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.
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 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