Birthwork: A compassionate guide to being with birth
by Jenny Blyth

[2005, Australia: Queensland Complete Printing Service; 460 pages, paperback.]

[Review first published in Midwifery Today Issue 82, Summer 2007, © 2007, Midwifery Today, Inc. Review by Jill Cohen.]

“Inherently, we have the ability to use our positive human qualities skillfully.”

Birthwork is about what we are, how we react and wise ways of being with birth.

Jenny’s unique concepts thread this book together. Her idea is to fast-track the exploration of awareness during the childbearing year, keeping up with the continual fast pace at which life moves. She delves into the issues confronting care providers and mothers: how to face these issues and work toward better understanding and better birth. Helping mothers feel prepared and ready spiritually, emotionally and physically creates a whole way of caring for birth. This book does a thorough job while encouraging readers to search themselves for new awareness.

The book has four parts. Part 1 concerns preparation. The author explores how we communicate, the art of language, the middle way of care that helps prevent burnout, and relationship factors such as dynamics within teamwork, conflict and weaving in and out of birthing families’ lives.

Part 2 concerns birthing. How we work with labor instinctively and intuitively. Breath work, freeing up “stuck-ness” body structure and inherited attitudes are just a few of the ideas revealed.

Part 3 involves the bigger picture. How we work within the birthing field. Reflections on safety issues, responsibility, birth culture and crossing cultural paradigms. Looking at the whole picture of birth through holism and spirituality, along with the sacredness of birth.

Finally, part 4 rounds out the book with further considerations. Using bodywork, vaginal preparation, working with water and nurturing breastfeeding are examples of what is presented.

I loved this book. The way it is written, the layout of the book and the content all resonate with what birthwork is all about. Jenny does a fantastic job of presenting her experience and insights in a well-rounded manner. I drank up the information and felt satisfied and contented.

Reviewer Jill Cohen lives in Gates, Oregon, with her husband and two of her four beautiful children. After being a lay midwife for over 20 years she has now returned to school to obtain a nursing degree.

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