Sarah Buckley’s Gentle Birth and Gentle Mothering is a comprehensive look at gentle pregnancy, birth, and the beginning journey of parenthood. I appreciate the author’s balance of holistic information and scientific research. This book really highlights the importance of respecting the laboring process and honoring the hormones associated with labor and birth. In our highly medicalized environment, here in America, I think this is very important. When you walk into a hospital the lights are bright, there are loud noises, a lot of strangers, these can disrupt the labor process. That’s where it can be important to a doula to step in and alter the environment to be more birth-friendly. I love that this book encourages undisturbed birth and letting the process happen naturally without intervention.
It’s also important to note that the author lays out a guideline of considerations in asking questions. This, for me, is a helpful model when I explain to my clients the importance of being informed. The author writes about the BRAN model of good decision making. Good decision making includes weighing the benefits, risks, and alternatives to any option. This can be so important to teach clients because in such a medical environment it can be hard not to take a doctor’s suggestion as the end-all to the conversation. Really, the power lies with the mother and that’s important to note.
Although this book at first glance seems to be geared towards a more natural birth, I really respect the fact that interventions and medications are discussed, and they are discussed in an evidence based and scientific way. The author notes epidural and cesarean births and important considerations for those in terms of being informed and gentle. Allowing intuition to play a role. I like coming from the place of the overall pregnancy being nourished and then talking intervention and pregnancy management by doctors.
In the Gentle Parenting section of the book, while Buckley does introduce the reader to Attachment Parenting and co-sleeping, which are more “natural parenting” styles, she’s sure to encourage the reader to make the best choice for them. It’s encouraging to read such support of a mother using her intuition. I think it’s important that as doulas we are continually empowering women to make their own decisions and trust their instincts. It’s important to remind new mothers that despite the overwhelming wealth of information about birth and parenting in our society that they are ultimately the expert of their own unique body and their child. This cannot be stressed enough.
So much is stressed to pregnant mothers that I feel there is not enough pre-parenthood preparation. I respect that these are combined in this book. It encourages this gentle birth and labor model to flow freely into that of motherhood. This sets up the mother for success and a sweet, gentle parenting relationship with her child. I like that the author encourages the mother to think for herself and not fully rely on any set in stone parenting method, or even the advice of others. These are issues that follow all of motherhood not just the early stages. I think it’s great to encourage mother from the beginning to believe in herself, her body, and her baby.
In conclusion, Gentle Birth and Gentle Mothering has always been a favorite of mine to refer to clients. It’s just enough information and is presented in a holistic, yet very intelligent way. This is an important book for mothers, fathers, and care providers.