A Holistic Guide to Embracing Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood: Wisdom and Advice by a Doula

Article excerpt

A Holistic Guide To Embracing Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood: Wisdom and Advice by a Doula by Karen Salt. (2003). Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing. 213 pp. ISBN: 1-55561-282-2.

In this book, doula Karen Salt offers an abundance of suggestions, practical applications, tools, exercises, resources and information for any pregnant mother to prepare in mind, body and spirit for the birth of her baby. Partners and doulas can also benefit from reading this book. The information is well-organized and in a number of different styles, such as numbered lists, tables, and narratives chock-full of explicit examples and imagery. This book can serve as an ongoing reference guide throughout pregnancy by use of the index to look up key areas of interest. As well, it is a good read from beginning to end.

A Holistic Guide begins with the premise that many mothers are engaged in a "mental game of uncertainty" during pregnancy and then offers help for women to embrace pregnancy by finding "the beauty and blessings." The first step she suggests is "helping your mind connect you to the baby you are creating."

Salt gently encourages deep relaxation throughout pregnancy, teaching that stress reduces blood flow to the baby and subjects baby's developing body to stress hormones. She begins with easy-to-follow descriptions of exercises, then suggests mindfulness during pregnancy, slowing down and noticing one's environment, journaling, meditating, and visualizing one's baby. She writes that it is most important to surround oneself with love and nurturing.

Salt approaches with thoroughness each aspect-pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood-including excellent detail in her descriptions of the stages of labor and birth. She seeks to empower women through her choice of words, using positive affirmations and words that inspire and motivate. As if in the same breath, Salt acknowledges the hard work of labor immediately followed by honoring a woman's capacity to give birth naturally. She also describes numerous strategies for a woman to strengthen her resolve to courageously face the unknown. Salt supports partners with the reassurance and encouragement that being present with a laboring woman's pain is enough, but also describes specific practical support, such as body positions for women and partners during active labor.

A Holistic Guide maintains the integrity of its holistic model through controversial topics such as medical pain relief. …