Media Reviews – Issue 145
Midwifery Today, Issue 145, Spring 2023.
Join Midwifery Today Online Membership
Rebel Mama: Breaking Free from Motherhood Norms and Parenting from Within, by Laura Rafferty. 2021 (Self-published, $16.99, 197 pages, paperback, and Kindle.)
How would you parent if you felt completely unjudged? Laura Rafferty used the Covid-19 lockdown to explore that question in Rebel Mama: Breaking Free from Motherhood Norms and Parenting from Within. With no one watching, she listened to her intuition and trusted her baby to find a way that suited both of them best. She shares her research and internal debate with us and delivers reasoned, balanced information about issues like separation anxiety, circumcision, and extended breastfeeding. Rafferty is funny, frank, and forthcoming in baring her own mama-soul and speaking directly to ours.
Mom guilt is real. Rafferty helps us avoid the psychological landmines our insecurities can lay in our way to confident parenting. She talks us through both sides of the circumcision question and provides a simple, common
sense argument for why she left her baby boy intact. What do we do about childcare? When do we start solid food? What if we’re not perfect? Take heart, new mama, you’re not alone. You’ll find comfort and solidarity in Rebel Mama.
New parents are jangly, sleep-deprived creatures, unsure of how to manage a trip to the bathroom let alone topics like bedsharing and extended breastfeeding. Heaped on top of that are societal and cultural ideas about parenting that can leave couples feeling wrecked and insecure. Rebel Mama feels like a reassuring hug from a trusted friend who whispers in your ear, “You’ve got this, follow your gut. It’s all going to be okay.”
There are no foisted opinions or mental manipulation in this book. Rafferty walks us through her research and rationale and tells us what worked for her. If you can relate, awesome! If not, move on. No hard feelings. Rafferty’s final advice: Parent like no one is watching.
—Teresa Fox Magri
A Journey into Being Knowing and Nurturing our Children as Spirit, 2nd ed, by Christine Ramos.2022. (Independently published, $15.00, 240 pages, paperback.)
A Journey into Being offers to address an understanding of new life that escapes the current scope of science alone. It imparts knowledge of the spirit, that superbly distinct inner being of a child that can bring an individual the deepest love, sweetest wonderment, and the most profound grief ever known.
Spirituality is the theme throughout this book, which delves into many aspects of our lives. The book explores how we can unite our spiritual and physical journey from conception through to death. The author discusses Chakras—the energy of our soul and how they energize into our physical bodies. Imbalances of the spirit may cause physical changes to the body.
Through stories about pregnancy, birth, and the postnatal period, she highlights how changes are intertwined and can have long-term impacts on our bodies and minds.
This is a fascinating book which will be of interest to a select group of like-minded health professionals and parents. Its chapters about intuition and spirituality maybe be challenging to western professionals. However, the quote from the book sums up my final opinion on care of the baby: “Above all else, ensure that your baby is touched and embraced frequently, if at all possible.”
WOMB TO THRIVE The Missing Keys to Heal Yourself, Your Family and the Planet Author and Compiler Dr. Julie Gerland. (Independently Published, $19.95, 247 pages, paperback.)
This interesting book tells us about birth experiences and in utero experiences. One co-author writes “My children are the masterpieces of my life. I had become so passionate about the connection between what happens during the time in the womb and later life.”
Each chapter is written by authors from countries around the world including India, Japan, France, UK, Afganistan, and Kenya. They all have stories to tell about their births, customs, cultures and upbringing. Each chapter looks at a different aspect of birth, including support with water, music, and hypnobirthing.
Another interesting passage is:
“Mothers hold these keys! Unfortunately, mothers are often routinely ignored, pushed out, undervalued, mistreated, violated, and traumatized. Many don’t even have a say in how and where they will birth their babies.… Devoid of social status and excluded from the elaboration of policies and the education that influence and mould their children, mothers end up passing on to their children the stress, anguish, and frustration they endure.”
The book addresses in utero experiences for babies and how could we reconnect with natural life cycles, with midwives at the centre of care. Dr Evita Fernadez in India writes about development of a midwifery system and summarizes by saying “We’re trying to establish a very simple fact that women with no complications do not need obstetricians. They’re far safer. Their birth experiences are more positive. Outcomes are better in the hands of midwives.”
Many health care professionals and parents may find this book challenging to read, however, it may open our eyes to different thoughts and experiences.
A book for interested, like-minded colleagues, but possibly not for an academic institution.
Complementary Therapies for Postdates Pregnancy, by Denise Tiran. (Philadelphia: Singing Dragon $40.00, 304 pages, paperback.)
This book starts with the dramatic changes that have occurred in maternity care during the author’s career. Her research, writing, and clinical work in complementary therapies provide credibility in this field of midwifery.
Denis contrasts the rate of induction in the 1980s with the increase in the 21st century. As childbirth becomes “too much, too soon,” this is the opposite to, “too little, too late” as is often the case in developing countries. Sadly, some other countries are following our lead with high induction rates, with all the potential complications they can entail.
The author delves into the hormones and psychosocial factors which can trigger labour and how these can be addressed. She notes that women often get this information from medical practitioners, as well as from media, friends, and family. While often well-meaning, in the case of complementary therapies pros and cons are often not fully discussed.
A great range of therapies are documented including acupuncture/pressure, aromatherapy, reflexology, and natural remedies. Every chapter is well referenced, which will lead the reader to more learning.
In conclusion, this book was easy to read, well written, and extensively referenced. It would provide a great starting point on a journey into understand complementary therapies.
Birth Days: Inspiring Stories in Healing and Transformation in Childbirth, by Mindy R. Levy. 2022. (Independently published, $14.95, 291 pages, paperback.)
Mindy introduces this book with her own birth experiences, which showed the way through her amazing midwifery journey. She recollects her mentor, Nitza, whose fusion of theoretical knowledge and emotional intelligence is what the ideal midwife should possess. As Mindy developed her knowledge of birth trauma, she reminds us how modern birth practices have interrupted labour and birth both emotionally and physiologically.
Throughout the book, she intertwines birth stories with lessons learnt from “[l]istening to women, using midwifery intuition, and learning from the experience and wisdom of midwives from around the world.”
Certain stories stood out for me, including the opening of her birth centre called Agoola, or round, following from her successful hospital and homebirth experiences. Mindy writes about the many births in which she had been able to support families who were dealing with trauma. A notable one was a mother separated from her preterm baby when it went to the NICU and the effect on the whole family.
Finally, I would like to mention one story of a mother with many physical injuriess which had to heal whilst she cared for a newborn baby. Ma’ayan had an episiotomy in anticipation of a ventouse delivery, a broken rib due to repeated fundal pressure, a sore and injured throat from general anesthesia during an emergency cesarean, and, of course, the cesarean incision. This mother was brave to share her story and give us the opportunity to reflect on her care.
Thank you, Mindy, for your work and writing this book, a must for birth workers to read and learn from.
I had the honor to meet Mindy many years ago in Israel, and hold those memories very close to my heart.