New Active Birth - Janet Balaskas

There are very few books I've read containing photographs of naked ladies, or manifestos, and this has both! 'Active birth' is what used to be called 'birth' before it gained the connotations of going to hospital, being fed a cocktail of drugs, and lying on your back. The 'new' in the title isn't 'new age', though - it's just the second edition.

So, Caroline's been planning to do the active birth thing. Her pregnancy has gone well, and currently doesn't seem to need to be medicalised. If it does, we will, but if intervention isn't necessary, this book makes a strong case for giving birth as naturally as possible, working with the body.

As I said, this book argues the case clearly and sincerely for 'active birth'. It's also practical, showing pre- and post-natal yoga exercises, birth positions etc. to allow for a more straightforward, less painful birth.

The book isn't perfect. It's a bit lumpily edited - I think this is the fault of the modifications to make the second edition. In some places it falls into making claims it can't justify, and going a little non-scientific, but it's generally been backed by plenty of references. Mentions of homeopathy undermine some of my feelings towards this book, but it does mention that kind of stuff only as part of a wider spectrum of treatments. I suppose I just have to accept that a lot of birth stuff can't really be double-blind tested! :p


Caroline has since given birth. Thanks to a combination of preparation, genetics, luck and great midwifery, she managed to do the whole birth process in five and a half hours, at home, with no pain relief except two paracetamol. Go active birth.

Posted 2009-11-11.