Do a search of birth books and you’ll find more than you bargained for. Some claim to be the “complete guide” or the “better way” to have a baby. Some are filled with illustrations of developing babies, charts listing possible complications, and intricate biological details. Some are technical and scientific; some are warm and even funny.
When we reviewed all those birth books, we found that instead of encouraging women, the best sellers cataloged what to fear when you’re expecting. It was no surprise that their readers often ended up alarmed, afraid, and eager to choose medical interventions like epidurals and cesareans.
As we prepared for this new edition, things had not changed much. Today, as in 2010, very few pregnancy books deliver the simple message that we think pregnant women need to hear most: birth is a natural part of life. We conceived this book a long time ago from our deep conviction that women know how to give birth—and that women need to rediscover this very important, basic truth.
Throughout history, the wisdom of birthing has belonged to the family and community. The majority of the world’s women have given birth among people they know, in a familiar and comfortable place. Birth has been considered a family event, not a medical one—until recently. In our modern, technology-centered culture, birth has moved from the home to the hospital, from the care of friends and family to the oversight of medical professionals, where touch and patience often give way to tests and timekeeping.
We believe deeply that birth is a process you can trust, just as millions of women before you have. This belief isn’t sentimental; it’s based on our thorough understanding of the physiologic birth process and research that confirms that interfering in that process is harmful, unless there’s clear evidence that interference provides benefit.
Unlike many other pregnancy and birth books—and, surprisingly, much of standard obstetric care—this book is written from the best possible research evidence. We often refer to the Cochrane Library, a collection of careful studies and systematic reviews of current research. In this edition, the research has been updated and continues to support the excellence of nature’s design for birth. What is also new since the last edition of this book is an increasing concern with the relatively stable but extremely high cesarean rate in the United States. Since the last edition, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has recommended practice guidelines that reflect this concern, and support allowing labor to start and progress with much less medical interference.
Simply said, it’s safer and healthier for you and for your baby to allow the natural process of labor and birth to unfold in the way that nature intended. In this new edition, we highlight over and over again that the best way to ensure a safe and healthy birth is to not interfere in the natural process without a serious medical indication.