Friday, August 28, 2009

Book Review: Birthwork

By Jenny Blyth
Reprinted 2007
Softcover, 460 pages
ISBN: 0-9757610-0

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE

From Australia, comes a gorgeous and unique book called Birthwork. It is such an amazing and compelling read that it took me a very long time to write my review—it is difficult to describe such a remarkable book. I have never read another book like this. It is truly extraordinary. Subtitled "a compassionate guide to being with birth," Birthwork was written for all birthworkers--anyone who works directly with birthing women (midwives, doulas, nurses, childbirth educators, physicians...).

This book covers issues of a range and depth I’ve never before seen in a birth text. Subsections include titles like: touching vaginas, respect and relationship, dipping in and out of the birth milieu, group dynamics, conflict, birth culture, loving presence, birth is sacred, trauma release, letting down in the pelvis, and stresses and stretches of childbearing. This is just a sampling of the amazing, comprehensive range of topics explored in Birthwork. I particularly enjoyed sections on directed breathing and “dynamic anatomy in labour.” The book delves into a lot of the emotional and psychological elements of being in a caregiving field and also covers physical components as well.

The book includes lots of questions to ask yourself to increase self-awareness, understanding, and personal development and also exercises to try/explore. Some of the questions are difficult to answer and require you to take a deep look at your motives and ideas about doing birthwork.

The photographs are stunning and there is gorgeous cover art (front, back, and inside). Birthwork has a spiritual component that runs throughout—sort of an Eastern philosophy—that might not appeal to all readers.

The book includes sources and a glossary of fields of care, but no index and no resources sections. It is an expensive book, but so very worth it!

Birthwork is deep and intense. I usually read very quickly and this book took me several weeks to finish because it needs time and space to soak in and be absorbed. Truly a phenomenal read!

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