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Having a Baby, Naturally
The Mothering Magazine Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth

By Peggy O’Mara

Review by Lisa Poisso

There’s a lot of weird information on parenting out there today. In our rush to discover and try out the latest natural techniques to our family lives, we’re sometimes left with nothing but dribbles of questionable facts and hearsay that’s been forwarded from spot to spot online. There just aren’t that many reliable sources of information -- especially when it pertains to something as vital as the health and well-being of our children.

And then there’s Peggy O’Mara and Mothering Magazine. Since 1980, O’Mara has brought impeccably researched information on natural family living to parents across the world in her role as publisher, editor and owner of Mothering. Now, she brings that same fierce sense of advocacy and rigorous journalistic sensibilities to Having a Baby, Naturally: The Mothering Magazine Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth.

New to natural ways of doing things? This book won’t run you over. Looking for a comprehensive, referenced source of resources to support you as an experienced natural birther? This book brings you the most recent information and ideas.

This is no touchy-feely book on birthing. O’Mara takes apart natural birth and the American birthing process piece by piece, examining attitudes, choices, scientific evidence and techniques relating to natural childbirth. The tone is calm and matter of fact, and every assertion is backed by solid reasoning and/or scientific evidence.

Choice – and the power of every pregnant woman to choose the circumstances of her children’s births – lies at the core of this book. O’Mara presents this philosophy without dogmatism or emotional hyperbole.

With pregnancy, you may be surprised to find how deeply your choices have been influenced by the beliefs, attitudes and customs of society, by the opinions of family members and by your general lack of exposure to birth. Unless you have witnessed them, pregnancy and birth can seem strange and frightening when in fact they are simple and natural. Several factors contribute to our collective belief that pregnancy and birth are complicated. The overmedicalization of childbirth in the United States, the human tendency to be intimidated by custom and authority and the fact that insurance companies often only cover hospital birth make real choices in childbirth difficult if not impossible.

Once that freedom of choice is established, O’Mara proceeds to lay out the tools to guide you through every step of your pregnancy and birth. You’ll learn more than what is happening at any given point; you’ll learn why it’s happening as well as what you can do to influence it to happen the way that’s safest and the way you prefer.


Introduction Understanding informed consent; about the medical/scientific sources used in the book; reasons to use natural childbirth; history of childbirth

Part One – The First Trimester What’s happening in my body?; What’s happening with my baby?; How You Feel; What You’re Eating; Choosing Your Place of Birth and Your Birth Attendant

Part Two – The Second Trimester What’s happening in my body?; What’s happening with my baby?; Self-Awareness and Self-Appreciation; Prenatal Testing; Childbirth Education; Doulas for Labor Support; Children and the Birth of a New Sibling; Preparing for Breastfeeding

Part Three – The Third Trimester What’s happening in my body?; What’s happening with my baby?; Revisit your Fears; Review your Birth Choices; Getting Ready for Baby; Pain in Labor; Avoiding the Cascade of Medical Interventions

Part Four – Labor and Delivery Birth Stories; Early Labor; The First Stage of Labor; The Second Stage of Labor; The Third Stage of Labor; Newborn Decisions

Part Five – Postpartum Taking Care of Yourself as a New Mother; Getting to Know Your Baby; The How-To’s of Breastfeeding; And Baby Makes Three; The Blues and Beyond; Every Mother is a Working Mother

Part Six – Special Circumstances When a Baby Dies: Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Early Loss; Prematurity and Multiple Births; Birth Defects and Hospitalization

Part Seven – Especially for Fathers Preparing for Fatherhood; The Pregnant Father; Balancing Work and Family

Appendices – Birth Report Card; Resources; Range of Costs for Various Birth Settings; References

Mothering Magazine’s Having a Baby, Naturally: The Mothering Magazine Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth
Peggy O’Mara, author; with Wendy Ponte, editor; Jackie Facciolo, illustrator
Format: Paperback: Atria Books Trade: 368 pages
Publisher: Atria Books (08/01/2003)
ISBN: 0743439635



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