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An Easier Childbirth
Review by Peggy O'Mara
, Mothering Magazine

Available for purchase online at Amazon.com

Years from now when we look back on the childbirth reform movement, Gayle Peterson will be called a pioneer. She was among the first in this movement to show the connections between a woman's beliefs and attitudes and the outcome of her child's birth. Peterson, the author of Pregnancy as Healing (with Lewis Mehl, M.D.) and Birthing Normally, recognizes that how we live has a great deal to do with how we give birth.

An Easier Childbirth showcases Peterson's ideas in a birth-preparation workbook that is an informative and extremely practical guide that can make childbirth a more rewarding experience. The workbook format helps the reader examine her beliefs and attitudes about birth and about becoming a mother, it prompts the expectant mother to investigate her own birth and to consider the unique cultural setting in which she will give birth, and it calls on the reader to review (and capitalize on her experience from) previous births. Peterson practically invented the means for a woman to examine the emotional aspects of giving birth; the tools provided in An Easier Childbirth enormously simplify the process by which a woman may conduct this examination.

Peterson, as well, talks plainly about labor and describes techniques for coping with pain, including relaxation and visualization exercises in preparation for birth. She explains the importance of having realistic expectations about how the father should participate in and contribute to the birth (unrealistic expectations set up conflicts). And she discusses how mother, baby, and family can bond together following the birth.

The appendix of An Easier Childbirth includes invaluable listings of books, videotapes, audiotapes, and other resources, as well as material on physical exercises, the natural flow of labor, and ideas on transforming fear.

I personally recommend one of Peterson's books to every pregnant woman with whom I consult. An Easier Childbirth may be Peterson's most important work yet, since its workbook format makes the woman's preparation for birth such a personal experience, enabling her to draw upon her own resources and personal history, all of which Peterson has ably demonstrated over the years are intimately connected with an easier childbirth.

Peggy O'Mara is editor and publisher of Mothering magazine.

An Easier Childbirth: Book Information

Excerpt: From the Introduction: Becoming a Mother

Excerpt: Making the Most of the Prenatal Journey

Excerpt: Postpartum Blues and Support

Excerpt: Your Partner's Role During Labor

Excerpt: Siblings at Birth

Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com and the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com/music/, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Berkeley, California and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother.

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