Book review by Natalie Stringer
The AIMS Guide To Giving Birth To your Baby by Deborah Neiger is available from the AIMS website for £8.
The AIMS Guide to Giving Birth to you Baby is a fantastic resource for expectant parents who have maybe not yet explored antenatal education. The contents pages towards the front of the book make it easy to find what you’re looking for, from birthing hormones to shoulder dystocia, meaning you can manage the reading of this book in little bite-size pieces over time, resulting in a very easy read.
The title of this book gave me the impression that I would be reading up on lots of information which would lead to a smooth sailing physiological birth. There were elements and focuses of physiological birth weaved throughout this book, but I think a title of “The AIMS Guide to Giving Birth Within Our Medical Model” may have suited it better. That way we know we are looking at physiological birth, assisted birth, episiotomies, epidurals, induction of labour, augmentation and much, much more than ‘giving birth to your baby’ as the title suggests. Unfortunately, the book has no information about caesarean birth. With a current local statistic of 35% caesarean rate, both planned and unplanned, this means that the book has no information regarding the potential mode of birth for over a third of pregnant women here. Including information about giving birth via caesarean would make the information within this book more abundant and link better to the title.**
However, what this book does want to focus on is the second stage of labour, bearing down and bringing your baby earthside, however that happens. I haven’t actually come across a book before that is mostly dedicated to that momentous moment of when birth actually happens, so this book is unique in that way. There are fantastic anecdotal stories throughout from those who speak about instinctive positioning, birthing in water and hypnobirthing. Reading these is very fulfilling to know just how variable birth can be and how every mother feels and births in her own unique way.
There is really useful information regarding episiotomies and how they are performed more often than you might expect (15%). I also really appreciated how the author took time to bullet point potential adverse outcomes to either mother or baby when assisted birth may be required. Throughout pregnancy many tend to focus on the wellbeing of their baby and forget about themselves, and this comes into play during labour too. They may be told of some risks that could occur to the baby if forceps or ventouse are used to help with birth, but mothers are all too commonly unaware of the potential short-term and long-term physical effects that births assisted with forceps or ventouse could have on themselves. The fact that these risks are highlighted within this book is really brilliant, so parents can be more informed from the get-go.
Ultimately, this book strives to accentuate the huge benefits of physiological birth as well as highlighting when a helping hand is necessary, which is important to note as birth (especially within our medical model) happens in many different forms. We cannot predict how our births will unfold, but with this book to hand you will be better equipped to know how possible interventions could help or hinder your path to birth. Throughout the book the author pulls us back to physiological birth many times, so you can always compare how your own birthing hormones may flourish or dwindle when choosing how, where and when to labour.
Above all, If you are looking for a general overview of what giving birth vaginally could be like within a mostly hospital setting here in the UK, then this book is for you (there are a couple of pages dedicated to homebirth and Birth Centres too). You may also find that you wish to explore certain topics further through other resources or with other AIMS books such as:
The Aims Guide To Your Rights In Pregnancy And Birth
The AIMS Guide To Induction Of Labour
Caesarean Birth: Your Questions Asked
Natalie Stringer is a Nurturing Birth doula and can be found at: