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Created on : 08 Jan 2004
Modified on : 06 Nov 2007

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Bibliographical entry (without author) :

Labor Pain: A Natural Approach to Easing Delivery. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 2000. 154 Pages. $12.95.

Author(s) :

Nicky Wesson

Year of publication :


URL(s) :…

Résumé (français)  :

Abstract (English)  :

By Gretchen Brauer-Rieke, in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health 2003;48(6): 481.

This small book is intended for a consumer audience of women who are interested in having a drug-free labor and birth. The author is a National Childbirth Trust teacher and member of the Association for Improvement in Maternity Services in England, where she lives. In this book, she speaks to the British experience of childbirth, assuming that all women have access to homebirth or to a midwife in the local hospital. Some of her recommendations, such as the use of a TENS unit during labor, are much more suited to British consumers than those in the United States.

Ms. Wesson also has a clear bias towards out-of-hospital birth, though she assumes that most of her readers will be choosing in-hospital birth. While she states, ?The best place for you to have your baby is where you feel the most comfortable, whether that is in a high-tech hospital unit or at home,? her own superior experience with home birth tends to color her recommendations throughout the book. She presents research evidence to verify the safety of out-of-hospital birth, and points out that natural, drug-free birth in a hospital may be a difficult goal given the various interventions that have become routine in the Western obstetrical system.

If readers can deal with Ms. Wesson’s British influence and home birth bias, there is much to be gained from reading this book. She starts by describing the process of labor and why pain is generally a part of that process. She minces no words about pain?doesn’t diminish it or use euphemisms?and is able to describe how different women ?feel? the pain differently. She writes about the psychological influences on pain threshold as well as the physiological mechanisms, and speaks of the importance of preparation and active decision-making on the part of the consumer around choosing a care provider and the environment in which birth takes place in order to minimize anxiety. As she states, ?it is not the level of pain that is most significant to women in labor, but the mastery of the situation,? and throughout the book, she encourages consumers to do what they can to stay actively involved throughout the process of labor.

The book is full of concrete suggestions for coping with labor pain. The author advocates optimal fetal positioning techniques, use of multiple positions during labor, massage and relaxation techniques, hydrotherapy, herbs, homeopathics, aromatherapy, acupressure, and aromatherapy among other remedies. Her chapter on drugs and pain relief is relatively short, covering Demerol and epidurals. The focus of the book is clearly on natural approaches to labor pain, as the subtitle suggests. Ms. Wesson also discusses dealing with the pain of episiotomy and perineal tears, as well as from c-sections.

A complete index is at the back of the book, along with a list of research references, suggested reading, and resource contacts, which are U.S.-based.

As an out-of-hospital birth practitioner, this reviewer will definitely be recommending this book to clients in late pregnancy. They will benefit from the many suggestions and tips, as well as find reinforcement for assertive decision-making and their plan to have a home birth.

Consumers who plan natural birth in a hospital setting will also find this book to be helpful, but may feel put off by Ms. Wesson’s somewhat dismal prospects for their success. Even midwives, though not the apparent intended audience, may find useful tips and suggestions for helping their clients through an unmedicated birth experience. Reminding ourselves again that most women can, in fact, cope with the pain of normal labor without drugs is always beneficial.

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Keywords :

➡ pain ; planned homebirth

Author of this record :

Cécile Loup — 08 Jan 2004
➡ latest update : Bernard Bel — 06 Nov 2007

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