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CureZone > Books > The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth by William and Martha Sears

The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth
by William and Martha Sears [edit]

The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth
********** 10 Stars!
Price: US$ 11.16, Available worldwide on
Check Availability from: Canada or from United Kingdom
ISBN: 0316779075

In The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth, William and Martha Sears, authors of The Baby Book and creators of the concept of "attachment parenting," here turn their attention to the birth experience. In this helpful resource guide, the Searses cover the gamut of possibilities, and teach readers what they need to know to take control of their own birthings. The Birth Book is divided into three parts: "Preparing for Birth," "Easing Pain in Labor," and "Experiencing Birth." You'll find details about vaginal births; cesareans; VBACs; water births; home births; best birthing positions; drugs; pain; how to design your own birth plan; the humor, chemistry, and sexuality of birth; and pages and pages of birth stories.

From Publishers Weekly
This guide will do more for new parents than a pacifier will for a newborn. It is a comprehensive, soothing work which will ease the fears and anxieties that explode during a pregnancy, especially during the last trimester. The Searses ( The Baby Book )--he a pediatrician and professor at the University of Southern California's School of Medicine; she a childbirth and labor expert--are themselves the parents of eight children. They explain clearly and reassuringly the array of options available to pregnant couples, from what to consider when selecting a birthing team and environment and how technology can be a mixed blessing during pregnancy to having a VDAC (a vaginal delivery after having had a Caesarean birth). The book's philosophy is that delivering a baby is often an event that parents are more caught up with than the end-product--the baby. But the book offers more than philosophy. It gives men practical advice on how to survive the changes, both emotional and physical, that arrive with impending parenthood. There are quick-reference charts on the medical tests commonly ordered by physicians during pregnancy, contraction timing and the stages of labor. The final chapter is devoted to 14 birth stories which illustrate how labor and delivery are different for each woman. While no two experiences are alike, all illustrate the importance of making conscious choices about the birth of one's child.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal
With expectant parents confronted with a variety of childbirth choices, the Searses, a noted husband-and-wife team (he's a pediatrician and she's a nurse), have written a guide that outlines a number of options available for birth along with pros and cons for each. Their emphasis is on the natural birth experience--without drugs and with as little intervention as possible. They provide information on alternate settings and nonphysician birth assistants. The book is well written and well organized; references and additional reading provide avenues for further information. A complement to other books on the birth process, including Gayle Peterson's An Easier Childbirth (Tarcher, 1991); recommended for consumer health/patient education collections.
- Mary J. Jarvis, Methodist Hosp. Medical Lib., Lubbock, Tex.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
It would be hard to write a bad review of any book by Dr. "Bill" Sears and his wife, Martha (a nurse), who have eight kids and are consultants of sorts to the La Leche League. All the Sears' works bring a rare positive and encouraging approach to the difficult task of being a parent. So it's great to find that they've authored a book for pregnant women with their usual intelligent yet empathetic tone. Not surprisingly, Birth Book is pronatural childbirth and warns of the many problems associated with hospital interventions--including the soaring cesarean section rate. They present choices available in birth education classes, include birth stories, and give relaxation techniques for labor (e.g., sitting in water). Jo Peer-Haas --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Gives expectant parents an overview of the options available, offering up-to-the-minute advice on such matters as physical and emotional preparation, the father's role, avoiding a cesarean birth, and other information. 35,000 first printing. Tour.

Wonderful and Empowering Book!, September 27, 1999
Reviewer: A reader
This book treats mothers as intelligent, capable people worthy of making informed birth decisions with their doctors or midwives. Such a refreshing change from the condescending "don't question your doctor" tone of many books! It is very thorough detailing what happens during the birth process; and also explains common interventions, when they are needed and when they are not. I liked that the information was based on scientific evidence (not just doctors' traditions.) It emphasizes natural pain relief methods, but still covers medicated pain relief in a non-judgmental way. Their family's anectdotes made the book into thoroughly enjoyable reading.

Following the advice of this book for my 2nd pregnancy (wish i had had it for my first!) I had an intervention-free hospital birth. I could hardly believe how much better I felt and how much more quickly i recovered than in the more common "high-intervention" method I experienced the first time (what so many books champion.) If it hadn't been for this book, I would never have known what was possible!

Childbirth for Luddites, but read it anyway, July 21, 2001
Reviewer: A reader from Durham, NH USA
Easy to read, well organized, well illustrated, and informative. This book will be most helpful if you are already strongly opposed to any medical intervention, and if you think of giving birth without medical intervention as a competitive sport. But if you are mostly focused on a good outcome for you and your baby with a minimum of unnecessary pain, and don't have an ideological commitment to "natural" childbirth, this book will be less helpful and a bit annoying. The authors try to be evenhanded, but they are unsuccessful and seem irrationally anti-technology at times--although at points their skepticism is clearly warranted. I think what it boils down to is that the authors are very risk averse when it comes to technology (e.g., they are unusually nervous about the use of ultrasound), but seem to accept the "natural" dangers of childbirth without batting an eye, pointing out that kids have been delivered for thousands of years without medical intervention. (Yes, and they used to die all the time, along with the mothers.)

Telling, I think, is that they elected not to do prenatal screening with their SEVENTH child. They decided on no AFP (the screening test for many fetal abnormalities) not because it is dangerous per se but because the test isn't 100% accurate, and is especially prone to false positives). This seventh child has Down's Syndrome. Their reaction? It's not so bad; s/he's still a lovely child. To be sure, but to trivialize this outcome the way that they do speaks volumes about their hostility towards technology and their embrace of whatever is supposedly natural. If they think have a Down's Syndrome child is an OK result, what else do they think is OK?

One reviewer above has it right: this book tries to make you feel like you have been "robbed" if you end up with medical intervention. I'm just not sure that all women feel that giving birth without medicine is the most important achievement in their life, if it is an achievement at all. If you think that it might be, this book is probably the one for you, even if you end up needing medical help.

Still, this book is valuable because it does tell you about alternatives to overly-medicalized births--the value of which doctors and nurses are now coming to see, probably thanks to people like the Sears. (Most docs I know want to see the C-section rate go down, as the Sears do.) Especially helpful are the sections on episiotomy (I'm persuaded by what they say) and the overuse of epidurals. The section on prenatal nutrition is redundant--one of your other books does it better. But as a result of this book I am considering water birth, I am hiring a doula, and I am planning on delivering upright, squatting, with my husband massaging my shoulders. That's not something I would have known about if it hadn't been for this book.

Creating informed mothers for safer births, November 18, 2003
Reviewer: Joselyn (see more about me) from Alpharetta, GA USA
This book allows you to become informed so you can make the best decisions for you and your baby, not the hospital's convenience and schedule. It empowered me to dramatically reduce my risk of C-section and other complications, most of which are caused by procedures hanging over from the "knock 'em out and take the baby by force(ps)" method of the 50s. No, our great-grandmothers did not suffer extreme pain in birth because they were taught by their mothers and sisters how to have babies the relaxed, safe way. Having birthed what most consider the "normal" way and also the real normal way, I had far less pain the second time, because I wasn't tethered to an IV, strapped to a monitor, working against gravity on my back (imagine defecating in a reclined position! no way it works!), bracing for every contraction. The Sears empowered me to do this, all the while helping me prepare for true emergencies and the true benefits of well-practiced medicinal intervention.

William and Martha Sears (Biography)

William Sears, M.D., received his pediatric training at Harvard Medical School's Children's Hospital and Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children. He has practiced as a pediatrician for 30 years. Martha Sears, R.N., is a registered nurse, childbirth educator, and breastfeeding consultant. The Searses are the parents of eight children. They live in Southern California. 


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