Regardless of whether you are pregnant, a mother or a birth professional this book will guide you through the complexities surrounding the rituals, religious and secular beliefs and methods of childbirth of many cultures around the world. Chapter titles such as Birth and Spirit, The God-Sibs: Woman to Woman Help and The Birth Dance will give you a clue as to what this book explores; a cross-cultural perspective where the traditions, beliefs and methods of supporting women in labour are discussed and to some extent, compared against modern obstetric practice.
If you’ve heard Kitzinger speak, you can image her reading this, bringing her vast knowledge of midwifery and instinctual knowledge of how a labouring woman needs to be supported. Having studied midwifery in many countries including the Caribbean, Eastern and Western Europe and South Africa and Japan, Kitzinger writes as an authority and the reader is left in no doubt that often she is writing from first hand experience.
There is a lot to be learned from this book. I was particularly taken with this sentence especially having never come across this information before, ‘Yet ultrasound itself has a direct effect on the baby too. It produces a shrill noise that we can’t hear but is like a dog whistle to the baby, who from around 18 weeks has a keen sense of hearing’. Had I known this I would have thought twice about a 4D scan I had with my first daughter.
Kitzinger’s book explores the historical and contemporary importance of feminine symbolism and one which has rippled into developed countries is the image of an opening flower representing the opening of the woman’s body. However what I didn’t know what that this symbolism is used in southern India, Malaysia, rural parts of Mediterranean countries – southern Italy and Greece. The symbolic birth flower of Jericho is the rose. Dry and shriveled it is placed besides the mother and as the labour progresses begins to soften and open from the heat of the birth room. As Kitzinger says this is ‘an intense visual image’.
Rediscovering Birth is a rich and fascinating text. It explores birth in her natural state and draws in the social, spiritual and historical elements from the world over. This book is not an instruction manuel. You are not going to find how to adapt ritual practices for use in modern obstetric or birth units but you can use this book as inspiration in helping to determine what you want for your labour. And for the professionals – you’ll love it. It will educate and inspire.