I’m so happy to be sharing with you details of a new book, which has been produced and edited by Emma Mills, a midwife in Wales, along with her midwife colleague Louise Taylor. Your Birth: stories from midwifery-led areas is a compilation of stories, written by women who gave birth in one area in Wales. As the book’s introduction explains, the idea for the book emerged from the finding that women felt that they were not always aware of the options that were available to them, and that positive birth stories from other women would help them learn about midwifery-led settings.
The book itself is simply a collection of women’s birth stories, told in their own words. The editing has been light, which means that you can really hear the women’s own voices as they share their experiences. Most of the stories are short enough to be read in a few minutes and a single sitting, which will make it easier for those who don’t feel they have the time to read long and complicated books. But the best bit for me, I think, is the variety of the stories and the fact that they are so real and honest. The women clearly tell us what they liked and what they didn’t, and we can see how birth does not happen in a vacuum but within the context of women’s lives. Women describe their journeys (both actual and metaphorical), relationships and thought processes. We hear about what the midwives said and did (and what the women thought about that) and, because of that, this book also offers food for thought and discussion for those working in the maternity services.
The level of detail in some of the stories is a joy; some of the women tell us what they were wearing, debate whether the sensations they feel were caused by labour or by last night’s chicken dinner and share with us what else was going on in their lives. All of this helps to disseminate the understanding that birth is actually a social event and not a medical one. This understanding is helped even more by the authors’ discussion of the importance of tea and toast in the birth process. I couldn’t agree with them more on this!
For all these reasons, the stories are gripping. I found it hard to put the book down and I can tell you that visitors to my house who have happened upon the book seem to feel the same way. The authors are planning a second book which will look at stories from consultant-led areas, and I am looking forward to reading this one too. You can find out more or buy the book here.