I recently received a copy of “The Sacred Gift of Childbirth; making empowered choices for you and your baby” by Marie Bigelow, with the expectation to write a review and post it here for all of you to read. I had high hopes that I would enjoy it and be able to positively recommend it to my blog readers. Marie did not disappoint. I found myself drawn to the book, and excited to read on. Not only was the read educational and informative on the process of birth, but it caused me to feel uplifted and become a cheerleader for all women.
As the title suggests, the content is drawn from her experience of being a doula, but also her faith in the LDS church. She outlines the process of labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery in a way that is easy to follow and highly educational. She also explains all types of birth interventions, with handy charts and questionnaires, including positives and negatives associated with each. Her opinion is given, but not in a pushy way; she creates room for acceptance of all birth experiences. Her top priority is the safety, health, and satisfaction of her clients. When it comes down to it, Marie states that her “goal is to educate couples so they can make well-informed evidence-based decisions and also have the calming reassurance of the Holy ghost.” (pg. 4, para 6). Her book is a great tool for learning, and also for determining personal plans and expectations.
From a religious standpoint, she begins right from the experiences of Eve to bring a powerful spiritual element to her book. Scattered throughout the book are insights from LDS leaders bearing testimony of the divinity of motherhood, and the divine potential each one of us has.
Marie is a supporter of natural childbirth; with full knowledge of the challenge it truly is. She is a mother herself and has attended thousands of births. She states “The high use of birth interventions today sends a message to many women that we are not capable of giving birth without these interventions. In reality, we are very capable of doing so! The Lord has designed our bodies in a way that He can magnify them during pregnancy and childbirth. These changes help our bodies with- stand much more than they can at other times” (pg. 31 para 1), she continues to explain that the Lord has designed our bodies to create and bear life, and He will be there to magnify us through the challenges.
I have read many similar books, but this is the first one that caused me to link my creation and purpose to my ability to give birth.
I wish that I had read this book several years ago; while I was pregnant for the first time. I was so excited to become a mother. I read many books about sleep training and infant care, but I ignored information about delivery. I had full (ignorant) faith that it would all work out. I had heard many birthing horror stories and figured I would be better off taking things as they came. The problem was I had no understanding, beyond the insufficient hospital pre-natal classes, and said horror stories.
A few weeks before my due date my OBGYN asked, “Are you wanting an epidural?” I briefly stated that I would like to try it without, but I wasn’t sure. His quick and short response “Well, we will make sure you can get one,” left me uninformed, and feeling like he thought I couldn’t do it without one.
I ended up going into labor at 41 weeks and headed to the hospital. I had my husband and mother with me, who were great supporters, but I was at a great loss without any education. I was handling contractions quite well, but I couldn’t see the end. I assumed things would get worse- way worse. When the nurse asked, for the 3rd time, if I “want[ed] the epidural yet?” I consented. If she thought I needed it, then surely I did. I had no plan. The break from contractions was a welcomed relief. I even called it a ‘little piece of heaven’. The problem was that when it came time to push, I had no idea what my body was doing or trying to tell me. I couldn’t feel anything, and besides the direction from the nurse, I didn’t know how to help the process along. I felt like I was thrown on a sports team, without knowing which sport it was, and I had failed to learn the rules before hand. (If you knew how athletic I am- or not-, this analogy would make more sense). Luckily, after pushing a long time, my daughter arrived. She was healthy and strong; everything worked out.
Her birth was beautiful and magical, but when reflecting on my experience, I recognized that [for me] something was missing. I had some spiritual experiences during my birth, but I felt like they were a somewhat hard to grasp, and distant as I became confused and frustrated during the birth. With my next pregnancy, I took it upon myself to do research. To understand my body better, and plan for a natural delivery. I was unable to get a Midwife, but my cousin offered to be my Doula. She was a great calming, and educational recourse. I read many birthing books that supported natural childbirth. I had more faith in my body and ability to do hard things. Bringing my son into the world was a wonderful experience. I look back on my birth with satisfaction and gratitude to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with the ability to give birth to my children. It wasn’t easy, but the Lord magnified me and helped me do what I was designed to do.
Now I better wrap up before my review ends up longer than the book itself! (And you will benefit FAR more by reading the book). Out of all the books I have read on childbirth, I have to say this is my favorite. Perhaps it is most relatable to LDS women, but I think that anyone with spiritual beliefs, and a desire to make an educated birth decision would benefit from this read. Don’t make the same mistake I did, make a plan, and use the recourses around you to make an educated one.
To learn more about Marie and her unique services, visit www.mariebigelow.com
To read other reviews of this book head on over to blog.cedarfort.com
Order this book at Amazon.ca
$7.68 CAN for kindle version
$8.49 CAN paperback