Book Review – “Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering”
For Mother’s Day, I asked Arp to get me a copy of Dr. Sarah J. Buckley’s book, Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering. I actually didn’t know much about Sarah J. Buckley until I had the joy of seeing her in a pre-screening of the new film Orgasmic Birth. So I checked out her website and found out that she is a pretty fascinating person. I’ve been really into learning more about birth lately, since Arp and I might be considering trying again soon. So I figured that getting a copy of Buckley’s book would be fitting for Mother’s Day.
I am not exaggerating when I say that Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering is the most enjoyable book on birth and mothering that I have read, ever. At least so far. Some of my other favorites include Immaculate Deception II and Spiritual Midwifery. The first, in my opinion, does an excellent job of describing the research behind all the possible interventions that some women use in labor, and the second tends to speak to the more spiritual and sexual side of birth. But Buckley’s book is excellent because she does an amazing job of combining those two concepts – the medical and the spiritual, and finding how they intersect and/or interfere with each other. Also, unlike Spiritual Midwifery, in which Ina May Gaskin publishes the individual birth stories of a lot of women, Buckley’s book describes, in a very personal way, her own birth stories. I very much enjoyed the fact that I could read about the author’s own personal story at the same time as she writes essays on how women across the world have dealt with the issues surrounding birth.
Another way in which Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering is different than other birth books that I have read is that Buckley finds a way to bridge the gap between birth and parenting. So many times, in our culture, I find that women spend a great deal of time before birth, paving the way for a gentle, connected birth. But those same women seem to be at square one once the baby has come – our adult-centric culture takes over and women move quickly towards mainstream parenting and behaviors that do not inspire attachment between mother and child. I don’t have any facts to back this up, by the way, but it is something that I have often observed when I am at playgroups. While there is a certain contingent of women who have re-examined birth and chosen a less mainstream path, the Western assumptions behind parenting tend to be harder to resist among parents. After all, we may not remember out own birth, but we certainly remember how we were parented. So it is nice to read a book like Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, which moves with fluidity between birth and parenthood.