Natural Hospital Birth is truly a birth preparation book with a unique and empowering focus not found in other books. As you can tell by the title, it is written to help families birth in the hospital setting with only the absolutely necessary medical intervention. Navigating hospital policies and routines in order to minimize interventions is a major focus of the book. Ironically, I found that aspect of the book mediocre.
While Natural Hospital Birth is full of practical ideas for people who want a natural birth at the hospital, it is also a book that could well serve many others. The part of the book that really shines is the section on getting attached to your birth plan. The author walks you through a birth planning process where you don’t focus exclusively on do’s and don’ts for your birth wish list, but rather spend time reflecting on who you are, what is important to you, and what makes an experience positive.
In Natural Hospital Birth, author Cynthia Gabriel artfully teaches the importance of vision and strong commitment to applying yourself to that vision. She skillfully explains the difference between rigidity and purposeful action towards a plan that accounts of the unpredictability of birth. I am a huge believer in the potential of effective birth planning and cringe when I hear the all-too-common advice not to get set on a birth plan for fear of disappointment. This book, finally, agrees with me – and spends some time flushing out the why and how. This section will serve all families regardless of your hopes for a natural or medicated birth, at the hospital or at home.
Another fabulous section of Natural Hospital Birth is the introduction. Gabriel shares some very interesting anthropological insights. Another nice feature is the recounting of birth stories and wisdom sharing. These are both reason enough to pick it up and read it.
This book also provides realistic and practical descriptions of the labor process and what to do at home. Natural Hospital Birth will help you have a better sense of when to go to the hospital, and how to mentally pace yourself. All in all this is a great birth preparation book that has the potential to really make a positive impact on your birth. It is certainly well worth the time it will take to read it.
Natural Hospital Birth’s Author, Cynthia Gabriel
Cynthia Gabriel, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and a doula who has attended nearly 100 births. A mother of three, she lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she offers life coaching services.