The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger

The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth

by Sheila Kitzinger

This book is one of my favorites.  It has the best pictures and diagrams of any pregnancy book on my shelf, and it was one of Lyd’s two favorite pregnancy/birth books, too.  It doesn’t go into big detail at any stage of pregnancy, but it gives great overviews, and I referred to it frequently during my pregnancy with Baby J.  It promotes natural childbirth, but it also explains what to expect with a medicated labor.  It’s got the most realistic drawings I’ve ever seen of a breech birth.  (Kitzinger is English, and vaginal breech births, especially with frank breeches, are much more common there.  In the U.S.A., a breech birth is almost always a recipe for a C-section.)  It also has photo essays from a hospital birth, a home birth, and a water birth, all of which Lyd found fascinating.  She KNOWS how babies get out of their mothers’ bodies, let me assure you!  It covers a lot of topics without scaring you with everything that could go possibly wrong the way “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” does.

One of my personal favorite things about this book is that it has the “pregnancy wheel” in chart form.  The pregnancy wheel is what OB-GYN’s use to figure out a woman’s due date, and it’s based on the first day of the woman’s last period.  Now, for many women (myself included), dating a pregnancy from my last period would have put my due date at the wrong time, because the pregnancy wheel assumes that that all women ovulate 14 days after beginning their period.  (Emily raises her hand.)  Hello!  Right here!  Just letting you know that not all women do that!  If my pregnancy had been dated from my last period, my due date would have been a week earlier, which might have caused me more battles with my doctor when I wanted to wait for labor to begin on its own.  (See, ladies, THIS IS WHY YOU NEED TO LEARN TO CHART!)  Instead, thanks to charting (and thanks also to the painful ovulatory cramps I experienced), I knew exactly when I ovulated, and my doctor could set my due date at the correct time.

So, why was the pregnancy wheel so interesting to me when it can be invalid for so many women?  Well, because each month when I was trying to get pregnant, once I ovulated I would use that chart to find out when my due date would be that month if I got pregnant.  This is probably a sad reflection on me of the kind of person I am, but, hey, I loved it!

If you get this book, be ready for some pictures of ladies without any clothes on.  Just in case you’re squeamish about that kind of thing.  Sometimes people like to be warned of that before they open the book.  But, it’s not like it’s gratuitous nudity or anything.  There are pictures of how a mother’s body changes in labor, there are pictures of women giving birth.  There it is.  It’s all natural, and all-natural!

This book covers a lot of topics pretty thoroughly, and it is a good all-around natural pregnancy and childbirth book to have on your shelf.  I highly recommend it.  Two thumbs up!