I get sent lots of books, because of what I do. I always tell people who ask me, you’re welcome to send me your book, but regardless of whether I know you or any other factor, the independence of my work is of primary importance to me. This means that I only ever write about a few of the books I read, because I have to really love a book to want to write a blog post about it.
This month, I got my hands on a book that I truly love, and it has gone straight to the top of the list of things I want to share with you. It’s called Birth in Focus: Stories and Photos to Inform, Educate and Inspire, and what’s inside is exactly what it says in the title, except about ten times more amazing than you hope when you open it.
The book’s author, Becky Reed, was a founding member of the renowned and fabulous Albany Midwifery Practice in Peckham, London, which was opened in 1997 and controversially closed down in 2009. The Albany Practice provided holistic, woman-centred care to a non-selective and culturally diverse population and had at its heart a central philosophy based on the belief in women’s innate ability to give birth.
The images in this book, as Becky explains through her own and other’s words in the introduction to the book, are useful and powerful for many reasons. They have helped instill confidence and knowledge in women, families and birth attendants. A lot of people learn visually, and we know that a picture is worth so many words. These pictures remind us of the value of the arts of birth-giving and midwifery and I am certain that, if we can get this book seen by as many people as possible, they will help to undo some of the damage done by the modern media representation of birth and promote birth as a normal, life-affirming, positive happening which showcases the power and sisterhood of women.
And then there are the stories! Each set of pictures is accompanied by the story of the birth, often told from several perspectives … the birthing woman, an older sibling, their midwife. There is so much in these stories that I know I am going to go back to them over and over again, and I can see this book becoming a permanent fixture in my teaching kit as well as something that I will want to show to every woman I meet.
Thank you, Becky, and all the women, families and midwives who have shared their images and stories for this book. Thank you for the fabulous work you have done to share the knowledge of what birth can be like. If you’d like to find out more, click here to see the book on Amazon (This is an Amazon affiliate link, so if you buy the book after clicking on it, Amazon will put a few pennies in my heart-funded birth information pot at no additional cost to you. Thank you.)