I’ve read quite a lot of pregnancy guides and I wasn’t sure there was much call for another one.
With the burst of amazing writers releasing things like ‘Birthing for Blokes’ and ‘The Positive Birth Book’ I thought it was covered.
I was completely wrong.
This particular birth book is designed for any pregnant woman who feels like a bit of iron filing caught between two magnets.
Rebecca Schiller is a doula, journalist and campaigner for women’s birth rights.
The book is snappy and balanced and talks to women like they’re intelligent. Not that other books don’t, but it prioritises making the reader feel in control.
It gets into the choices that need to be made in pregnancy and how they can impact us mentally. Overall it has a kind approach that fosters sensible self-belief and it focuses on preventing guilt.
It made me sad to recognise how crucial addressing guilt is.
But it’s a strong and unusual woman who manages to avoid feeling bad about her choices as she becomes a mother.
According to our society, ‘successful’ women are supposed to be thin, pretty and accommodating of others’ needs (study). The scope for us feeling bad is pretty big even before pregnancy.
I believe that pregnancy can hothouse shame because of the physical and personal needs that conflict with how women ‘should’ look and how they should feel about their child.
Self-care is something we talk about but it’s a hard concept to get to work in real life when we’re all so busy and focused on the people we love.
Rebecca’s book covers all the standard information needed. From screening to cord clamping to infant feeding, the facts have been collected and presented well, with resources for those who want to assess the science further.
Mental illness is addressed and it’s great to see the unspoken fear tackled – many women who suffer from depression worry about having their baby taken away and so don’t ask for help. But as Rebecca mentions, the odds of a child being removed purely because of depression are next to zero.
I won’t go into every topic mentioned but I was impressed by the breadth. The only thing missing is race – women from black and ethnic minority backgrounds experience a different story in pregnancy which ultimately puts them at higher risk. It would have been great to see this addressed in detail (I’ve become more aware of this social injustice problem in the birth world recently).
My way of telling if a pregnancy book is successful or not overall is ‘would I send this to my sister (a neuroscientist researcher) if she was pregnant again?’
I absolutely would – it’s more like a letter from a well-informed best friend than a pregnancy guide. And the vignettes included from the experiences of women help illustrate how different we all are. From those who wanted an epidural, to those who find masturbation in labour helpful.
The weird thing was, 'Your No Guilt Pregnancy Plan' was even useful for me personally. I’m not pregnant but everyone needs reassurance about trusting yourself when overwhelmed with options and choices.
I suspect that we all have these mental hurdles. It’s just that in pregnancy they’re more intense.
I enjoyed the way Rebecca presented it all as a challenge to develop self-trust, not an ordeal.
Now I’d love to hear from you.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
Do you think women face guilt in pregnancy? How do you address this as a student or midwife?
Leave a comment below!