Friday, September 4, 2009

Book Review: The Father's Home Birth Handbook

The Father’s Home Birth Handbook
By Leah Hazard
Victoria Park Press, 2008
Softcover, 208 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9560711-0-1

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE

The Father's Home Birth Handbook is a succinct and easy to read little guide for fathers and adds to the growing library of birth resources specifically geared towards fathers-to-be. The book is written by a woman, but contains ample quotes from fathers which lend a male perspective. It also includes a number of good birth stories interspersed throughout, which were all written by men.

The target audience for the handbook is easily summed up in the prologue: “…I’ve met far more men who have responded to their partners’ home birth wishes with a mixture of shock, cynicism, and fear…Far from being domineering ogres who just want to see wifey tucked ‘safely’ away a hospital, these loving fathers have simply had very little access to accurate, impartial information about the safety and logistics of home births versus hospital births.”

The first chapter addresses “Risk & Responsibility,” because that is one of the very first issues of concern for most people new to the idea of homebirth. It moves on to a chapter called “Think Positive,” followed by “Choosing the Guest List” and then one titled “Pleasure and Pain” This chapter covers comfort measures and what to do while the woman you love is giving birth: “…away from the intravenous drip and ticking clocks, you can support your partner in experiencing labour in all of its awesome, challenging power.”

Chapter five—“Birth: Normal and Extraordinary” covers Labor 101 topics, including what to do with the placenta. This is followed by “Challenges & Complications” which covers some common issues of concern such as premature labor, being overdue, prolonged labor, distressed baby, cord around the neck, tearing, and blood loss. Each of these is followed by a “what can I do to help?” section.

The final chapter—“Now What?”—concludes with a nice segment called “how can I carry the lessons I’ve learned from my homebirth with me into the rest of my life as a father?”

Published in Scotland, the handbook has a UK perspective—it assumes participation in the NHS and a “booked” midwife and homebirth. There is no “how to choose a midwife” type of section (because there is no choice of midwives). For US readers, this leaves a set of issues unaddressed—such as varying legal statuses, etc. UK specific issues also arise based on the possibility of caregivers who are not thrilled about homebirth, but who have to come to the birth since it is a government supported option. It comes across that in Scotland homebirth may seem readily okay on paper, but in reality is more difficult to pull off.

The book does briefly discuss the birth climate in the US and soundly critiques ACOG’s position on homebirth.

The book has an index and a resources section.

The Father’s Home Birth Handbook is a friendly, practical, matter-of-fact, helpful little guide that neatly addresses common questions and concerns many fathers-to-be have about planning a homebirth.


Associated amusing anecdote: my three year old noticed me reading this book, looked at the cover and said, "The dad is trying to grab him, but that little baby is floating away!

CfM Blogger


Annalisa said...

This sounds like a great book for what it is. There doesn't happen to be a book of a similar topic geared specifically toward those of us birthing at home in the USA, does there?

CfM Molly said...

There isn't a US book like this that I'm aware of. The DVD Homebirth Dads is a US based resource for fathers.

Much of the Father's Home Birth Handbook is well-suited to audiences from any country, there are just some segments that don't apply!