Book Review by Rahima Ahmed
The Labour of Love: The ultimate guide to being a birth partner by Sallyann Beresford is published by Dandelion Publishing and is available from good book outlets.
With over twenty years’ worth of experience supporting pregnancies in a variety of capacities including working as Doula, Antenatal Yoga Teacher, Sleep Consultant and a Hypnobirthing teacher; Sallyann Beresford has created an ultimate guide essentially written by an experienced birth partner for birth partners to be. Whether you’re supporting a birth for the very first time or you’re an experienced Doula you will benefit from taking some time out to read this book.
From my experience, I’ve found that electronic libraries and bookshop shelves seem to be flooded with resources dedicated to expectant mothers, but there is limited material in comparison for birth partners. Sallyann’s aim behind this guide was to create a resource that supported couples in the labour room.
By providing birth partners with the right preparation and knowledge, Sallyann noticed that the support she offered resulted in more positive pregnancy, birth and post natal experiences. Sallyann effortlessly breaks down the journey of birth, covering topics such as birth locations, hormones, safety words, dilations, positions, birth plans, birth management and preparing for the postnatal period. The book provides expectant parents and partners with the confidence and up to date knowledge needed to achieve a positive birth, not only for the mother or birth parent but for everyone involved.
Sallyann manages to inform her readers of all the options available to them, whilst covering multiple scenarios and how to handle changes that may arise. Her ability to pair each chapter with real-life personal experiences and stories bring the chapters to life, as well as supplying very useful bite sized recap points which are great for birth partners to easily access.
As a Doula, reading this book made me reflect on the ways in which I currently support my clients and how I can improve on this to ensure that they feel as safe and as comfortable as can be. Sallyann developed an acronym ‘P.R.O.T.E.C.T.S’ which stands for Positions, Refreshments, Oxytocin, Timing, Environment, Calm, Touch and SIlence. Each word highlighted in this acronym is a quick way to somewhat checklist that you’ve covered every aspect of your role as a birth partner and it remains relevant in all types of birth.
Sally Ann dedicated an entire chapter to ‘The Birth Partner’. Whilst specifically reading through this chapter I was reminded of the power of just being present which can be so easily overlooked; sometimes words are not needed, just simply being present is enough. I find myself encouraging my clients to believe in themselves and believe in their bodies. As birth partners we need to remind them of this, whether that’s in the language that we use, or by confidently encouraging them to allow their bodies to naturally go with the flow. Sallyann also reminded me of the importance of trusting a mother or pregnant person’s instinct as it’s very rarely wrong.
Overall, I would highly recommend The Labour of Love. It’s an easy read that I didn’t want to put down. The book itself has the perfect balance of antenatal education combined with birthing reality. The mixture of diagrams, acronyms and charts were very informative too. By truly understanding the needs of a woman or birthing person, whether those needs are emotional or physical, we can all work together to create the most beautiful and positive birthing experience possible. By reading this book I believe this even more.
Book Review by Rahima Ahmed (Riri The Doula) www.ririthedoula.com