Tuesday, August 13th, 2013
Whenever two moms become friends, they inevitable share their birth stories. It’s just such a huge and ingrained moment in a woman’s life. Now health expert, Anne Drapkin Lyerly, M.D., has asked real mothers about our experiences and written a book about it. Currently expecting her fifth child, she knows what she’s talking about. In A Good Birth: Finding the Positive and Profound in Your Birth Experience, Dr. Lyerly discusses all the stuff we worry so much about. See what her angle is in our exclusive Q&A below.
KK: What is “A Good Birth”?
ADL: Indeed, that’s the question at the heart of my book. Broadly speaking, a good birth is a birth that a mom can look back at and feel good about – embrace, relish, value for what it was and what it meant – and means to her, on terms that make sense to her.
A Good Birth is also the title of my first book – definitely a labor of love, written in the first intense year of my fourth baby’s life, but conceived long before he was. For years I’d been frustrated by the contentious debates between midwifery and obstetrics, and by literature that was overly simplistic and dominated by the voices of practitioners and advocates rather than childbearing women themselves. It struck me that for decades society has taken seriously the notion of a “good death” but too many books on birth these days focus on birth plans or medical considerations, narrowly construed, without attending to the ways that birth is a serious life event, a bookend of life that deserves our attention and due regard. So I conducted a large study called The Good Birth Project, in which I asked a wide variety of women to talk about their births, what made them good, what made them bad. Their stories are the basis for A Good Birth – are gorgeous and full of wisdom and insight, and together point toward a better way of thinking and talking about birth than what we have now.
KK: Why is there so much controversy today about birth alternatives (midwives, home births, etc)?
ADL: Part of it is that birth matters to us – it always has. Not just that it happens, but how. Memories of birth endure, stories of birth get told and retold. Birth is a major life event, we care how it happens, we care about that moment that we “meet” our child. And the stakes are high – birth involves bodily integrity, intimacy, private decisions, children. In those ways controversy it to be expected, perhaps welcomed. (more…)