Thursday, August 7, 2014

Doula Adventures: Review of "Natural Hospital Birth"

It's time for a review of a doula book! Yes, this is my first book review. No, this isn't the first book I read. For more information on my doula adventures, check out the Doula Adventures page above.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary: Cynthia Gabriel is a doula who understands some parents may want a natural birth while being close to the resources hospitals offer. She details each stage of labor and delivery, and offers advice for writing birth plans.

Favorite Lesson: When facing medical staff who want to begin a medical {not natural} procedure, Gabriel suggests asking, "Can we wait an hour?" This technique often diffuses tense situations because parents aren't arguing, and if something truly is an emergency, the answer will be "no." The vast majority of medical interventions can be put off with the simple question: "Can we wait an hour?"

Other Highlights: Gabriel provides examples of written birth plans for midwives, doulas, doctors, nurses, etc. She also describes each stage of labor with great detail and attention to not just the physical but also the emotional changes. Within each stage, Gabriel suggests a variety of coping techniques. Also addressed are VBACs and high-risk pregnancies. 

I really, really enjoyed this book. Anyone {mother, father, labor assistant, medical team} could read this book and gain from the experience. Gabriel wrote very clearly, and you can tell that she is passionate about what she does. I love that Gabriel is very open about valid concerns and varying experiences; she doesn't push only natural birth or condemn those who use modern medicine. The goal is very clearly at the forefront of her mind: healthy mom, healthy baby. 


  1. I love seeing you so excited over this. Sounds like a good book. :-)

  2. I should have read this in preparation for my daughters birth! I think it also really helps prevent medical interventions when Mom labors at home as long as possible, giving them less opportunities to intervene due to time constraints etc. Even though I showed up at the hospital at 7 cm and had an awesome Midwife and Doula I still fell victim to "hospital policies" and will likely never birth in a hospital again if my pregnancy is low risk.

  3. This has been my favorite book so far!
    I agree - if everything is safe, staying home really helps things progress smoothly.
    I'm sorry you didn't love everything about your hospital birth - what advice would you give to others in your situation?

  4. I honestly don't know that there would be anything to do differently in a hospital. When my water broke (really more like leaked a little) they noticed a *tiny* amount of myconium in the fluid. It was a cascade of "hospital policy" from there. Head nurse pulled hospital policy rank insisting water be broken further to confirm myconium which changed angle of baby's head. Then nursery staff messed with things further once baby arrived with insisting on immediate cord clamping/cutting etc. I guess I could have refused the breaking of my waters, but I don't know that I would have won that battle and at 10 cm the last thing you want to do is fight with hospital staff.

  5. Was the meconium in the rest of your water?
    It's sad, but so much of hospital policy is a CYA policy, which is great in the worst of circumstances {I'm grateful when baby is in distress, I mean} but is lame during normal circumstances.

  6. Sort of, in super trace amounts. They broke my water because they couldn't even be sure of what they were seeing and then once they broke the water it was decided there was a tint to the water by my nurse, head nurse and midwife. So light in color it took all of them hovering over a wet bedsheet to decide. My Midwife had obviously noticed it and was disregarding it because she knew what cascade it would bring in interventions and knew that since it was so slight of an amount it wasn't a safety risk and the nurse noticed it and made the big stink about it & called in her supervisor etc. My doula and I were talking later, she was visiting with the midwife talking shop while I was otherwise occupied. The midwife was doing her best to stand between me and hospital policies but there was only so much she could do.

  7. Oh man. Thank you for sharing your story! I hope that future births go more to your wishes :)

  8. I agree, Victoria. If a mom comes into a hospital with a team mentality, I bet her experience will be very positive! And if it's not, then change what you can and go with the flow.