Kate Lansky's Reviews > Active Birth : The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally

Active Birth  by Janet Balaskas
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's review
Apr 21, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: pregnancy

Having read quite a few pregnancy books so far this year, I've started to find myself skimming through sections. The same topics seem to get covered over and over.

That being said, I definitely have enjoyed this book. Yes, it's old - but the author doesn't spend a lot of time going over research and numbers, thus the need for an update isn't as strong as I've seen in other, more recently published books. The photos are a little dated, but both they and the sketches are helpful.

A lot of the pregnancy books I've read of late have been very focused on getting you to/through labor - pain management techniques and the like. This one has a slightly different bent - it goes through a lot of yoga that will help you deal not only with labor, but also with the general aches and pains of pregnancy. It also talks about massage in pregnancy, something else I haven't seen touched on. Because the main idea here is that being able to move around and change position is better, this focus on pregnancy itself makes a lot of sense - it's about getting your body ready for active birth in the same way many books focus on getting your mind ready for birth through those pain management techniques, etc.)

When the book does get to Labor and delivery (around page 100), it goes over the basics first - what are the stages, how does labor start, etc. It includes a few quotes from women talking about their own labor experience, which is a nice touch. It moves on to what labor actually feels like, what will happen to you and to the baby during each stage from first contraction to delivery of the placenta.

What I found particularly helpful was the discussion on active birth not only at home, where you're the one in control, but also in the hospital where doctors may not be familiar with the idea or where you may find your movements restricted from time to time due to hospital policy.

Finally, one of the biggest plusses here in my mind was the information on AFTER birth. So many books just stop once they've gotten you through labor - the authors see that as being their only job. Maybe they leave the 'after' stuff for the baby books - I don't really know. But Active Birth really digs in to this topic, covering info on breastfeeding, as well as a week-by-week breakdown of how to start rebuilding muscle tone in your pelvic floor, then slowly through the rest of your body. I definitely like seeing this layout of when I can expect to be able to start doing certain things again (Birthing From Within briefly touched on this as well).

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