An obstetrician and mother of four (all by cesarean) reveals the myriad ways women can feel empowered by pregnancy.
That Lyerly (Obstetrics and Gynecology/Univ. of North Carolina) managed to compose this astute guide amid the first year of her fourth son’s life seems an accomplishment on its own. In “giving voice to women themselves,” she demonstrates how new outlooks on the process of birthing can surface. The author directly yet compassionately addresses the issues surrounding what constitute an unconstrained “good” birth and the primary goals associated with it. Besides preserving a healthy mother and child, Lyerly petitions to broaden the good-birth concept beyond that of a positive medical outcome. She writes that although the experience gained from her medical residency and obstetrics practice have helped to enhance her perception of what the optimal delivery can be, it was the groundbreaking three-year Good Birth Project, instituted at Duke University in 2006, which solidified her research. Culling hours of interviews with 100 pregnant women, midwives and maternity-care providers, Lyerly channels the fruits of these conversations (and her own personal anecdotes) into five thematic “domains”—what she found mattered most to expectant women: agency (the capacity to act on one’s own behalf), personal security, connectedness through adult-infant bonding and beyond, respect and essential knowledge. Throughout, the author’s focus is clear, and her unobtrusive approach succeeds in showcasing women with alternative pathways to handling, accepting and loving all aspects of the pregnancy and child-birthing processes. “What is needed in birth is not always intuitive or straightforwardly derived from other of life’s lessons,” she writes. Her comforting and informational guidebook will be useful for those seeking to explore the less-obvious components of parturition.
Positive, sympathetic and diverse perspectives for past, present and future mothers-to-be.