Book Review: Birthing From Within
Book Review: Birthing from Within: An Extra-ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England and Rob Horowitz
Birthing from Within is a pregnancy and birth book unlike any other; offering a holistic view of pregnancy and childbirth, it presents this time in a woman’s life as a rite of passage. The authors invite the reader to participate in an internal creative exploration of her own experience of pregnancy and childbirth, rather than offering education via external facts and information. Written by a midwife and a systemic family therapist, Birthing from Within suggests that the essence of childbirth preparation is self-discovery, rather than the assimilation of obstetric information.
Pam England is a midwife with a passionate interest in enabling women’s peaceful and empowered birthing experiences, regardless of their chosen setting or medical preferences. As a trainee she witnessed some difficult and traumatic births, as well as more uplifting and rewarding experiences. Applying these learnings to her own preparations for the birth of her first child, she adopted positive thinking, yoga and ‘stuck her fingers in her ears when anyone spoke of C-sections’. When she found herself in the operating theatre having an emergency caesarean, she started to ponder the question…. “What did I need to know to give birth as a mother, that I didn’t know as a midwife?”
The book opens with this line of enquiry, guiding the reader to find their own personal birthing question – “What is it I need to know in order to give birth?” It encourages women to ask and research even the most challenging of questions, like “Can I trust my body, or my judgement?” and “What kind of a mother will I be?” Through leaving no stone unturned and reflecting internally as well as seeking information, the birthing mother can allay her fears by facing them, rather than suppressing or avoiding them only to have them crop up later on or during the birth.
To do this the book introduces prospective mothers to creative exercises, such as story telling, art and writing letters to the unborn child. This aspect of the book especially appeals to me, as a therapist with a specialism in creative methods. When we play and create, the unconscious mind is unlocked revealing parts of ourselves often beyond the reach of conscious thought or spoken word. Employing these powerful tools, the book goes on to explore topics such as coping with pain, baby proofing your marriage, swaddling new parents and mindful caesarean.
As a mother myself, this book has remained fresh in my mind as a clear favourite from those times in my life. It was unrivalled in its subtle, but powerful ability to enliven and empower me and my birthing body.
This article was written as part of the Holistic Centre spring newsletter ‘Pregnancy and Childbirth’. Continue reading: