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Book Review
Pregnancy to Parenthood:
Your Personal Step-by-Step Journey Through the Childbirth Experience

by Linda Goldberg et al
Avery, 1998

From: LEAVEN, Vol. 37 No. 5, October-November 2001, p. 120
Reviewed by Christine McNeil Montano
Easton CT USA

The authors of Pregnancy to Parenthood: Your Personal Step-by-Step Journey Through the Childbirth Experience feel it is each woman's responsibility to educate herself in order to make the many necessary choices she will have to make during her pregnancy, labor, and delivery. The authors present information in a non-judgmental manner with a positive attitude. What I consider to be the most important and useful part of the book is the very detailed section dedicated to prenatal care, labor, and delivery, which is 200 of the 300 pages in this book.

The authors use a gentle manner when discussing the negative side effects of drugs during labor. After reading the information provided, it is obvious to the reader that a drug-free birth is best for the health of both mother and baby, and that it helps to get breastfeeding off to a good start. The authors do not take part in the "birth wars" by labeling techniques or birth choices. Instead, this book presents and recommends many techniques commonly used in midwifery practices and natural childbirth method circles. The authors seem to use arguments to appeal to women who consider themselves "mainstream" or don't have strong opinions on various birth issues.

The many tools provided will help the mother take an active part in her labor and delivery. The authors' supportive words help make women feel that every woman is capable of birthing normally. Childbirth is portrayed as a regular life event for women. Highly detailed instructions with photographs are provided for relaxation tools such as guided visualization and massage. Several pages are dedicated to Lamaze-like breathing techniques. The authors make it clear that the woman chooses which tools she will use. Many different pushing positions are explained in both words and photos. A unique section discusses the various positions in which the fetus may be lying inside the uterus, information about which position is optimal, and exercises the mother can do to try to change the position of the fetus. The authors review other important issues to discuss with the health care provider such as episiotomies, eating and drinking during labor, and when to cut the baby's umbilical cord after birth.

Mothering through breastfeeding is strongly advocated in this book. Some examples of how breastfeeding is portrayed as a way of nurturing the baby are: how breastfeeding helps the nursing pair bond after the birth and how to best bond while in a hospital environment.

Breastfeeding is not only discussed in the chapter on infant feeding, it is presented as a way of life. In a discussion of various contraceptive methods to use after childbirth, how each method may affect breastfeeding is addressed. In the parenting chapter, each parenting situation assumes breastfeeding in its recommendations, such as finding creative ways for parents to spend time alone while not separating from their baby. It is certainly refreshing to see that breastfeeding is viewed as a natural way of nurturing the baby, not just that human milk is an infant food.

A 28-page chapter on infant feeding focuses almost entirely on breastfeeding. Human milk is portrayed, of course, as the superior infant food. The authors try to include everything that a new mother needs to know to get breastfeeding off to a good start and give positive support for nursing beyond one year of age. Tips for dealing with criticism of nursing an older baby are provided. Weaning is very briefly mentioned with baby-led weaning portrayed as best for the child . For weaning initiated by the mother, the authors recommend gradual weaning as optimal, explaining the problems caused by abrupt weaning. There is an uncommon (to pregnancy books) section about the risks of using formula. It is an accurate section, reporting facts and written with tact. At the end of the feeding chapter, a brief section explains bottle-feeding safety and instructions.

Unfortunately, the authors try to provide so much breastfeeding information that the infant feeding chapter sometimes seems like a lot of facts crammed together. Some important topics are mentioned in just one sentence. One example is a description of how to perform the Marmet technique of manual expression. The description is brief, and the incomplete directions are likely to result in poor technique, possibly leading to failure. To their credit, the authors explain latch-on and positioning in great detail with many helpful photographs. They also encourage the parents to take a breastfeeding class to supplement their information. LLL is also listed in the resources section as a source for seeking help, if needed.

All in all, Pregnancy to Parenthood is an accessible and comprehensive guide to pregnancy and early parenthood.

Christine McNeil Montano is a Leader with LLL of Monroe, Connecticut, USA; serves as a District Advisor for LLL of Connecticut; answers Help Forms from the LLLI Web site; and is a member of the BEC. She is married to Tony Montano and is mother to Jay, 3; and John, 1. She is a stay-at-home homeschooler who enjoys reading, writing, gardening, and communicating with her email friends from around the world.

LEAVEN Book Review Column Editor, Jake Marcus Cipolla, is a Leader with LLL of Central Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA.

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