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Mothering the Mother Birth Services

Book Reviews by Mary Paliescheskey


Published in Expectations

Newsletter of the Valley/Foothill Doula Collective


  Childbirth Wisdom From The World's Oldest Societies

  The Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding

 Empty Arms: Coping With Miscarriage, Stillbirth And Infant Death

The Vaginal Birth after Cesarean Experience

 Recommened Reading- NEW






Book Review

Childbirth Wisdom from the world's oldest societies

J. Goldsmith

by Mary Paliescheskey, Birth Guide

Mothering the Mother Birth Services


This book was written because the author asked the questions: "what was birth like before hospitals?" and "what lessons might we learn from traditional societies?" The book alternates between author commentary and vignettes designed to vividly convey the information for that society.

During pregnancy, traditional societies have support of the abdomen, massage, and no expectations of birth in exactly nine months. For the birth, they create an environment designed to relax the mother, encourage walking, exercise, changing positions, steaming or lubrication of the perineum, and a birth position that uses gravity. The cord is not cut until the placenta is out and the baby is breathing well. The newborn is treated gently and birthed into a semi-dark, warm, and quiet environment. If the baby is not breathing well then submerge into a cold bath.

Postpartum care would include massage, walking, keeping motherís upper body elevated, and heat treatments. Nursing would be on demand. The mother and infant would always be close-during the day the infant is carried and at night sleeps with the mother. Infant massage is used. Weaning occurs gradually. The average nursing period is listed as two to three years with some cultures nursing substantially longer. One culture, Blackfeet of the North American Plains, nursed until six years of age.

The author notes that there is much that modern society can learn from the wisdom of our ancestors. Current childbirth practices can be altered to include this wisdom without loosing the benefits of technology and in most cases the technology would not be necessary if the wisdom is used.

buy this book Childbirth wisdom from the world's oldest societies



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The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

La Leche League International

by Mary Paliescheskey, Birth Guide

Mothering the Mother Birth Services

"Even though your milk is important to your baby as a food and a source of elements that protect him against infection, breastfeeding is more than a method of feeding your baby."

La Leche League views breastfeeding in the context of family. The book was first published in 1958. At that time breastfeeding was not 'popular'-This book was the only one available to women.

"The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" uses the experiences of thousands of women and a time span of 35 years for the recommendations. Instructions on breastfeeding and common problems of breastfeeding are well covered. In addition, the book relates the needs of the breastfeeding couple into a successful life style. All areas of family life are touched: nutrition, fathers, work, sleeping arrangements, and parenting from the heart are all discussed.

The need for support of the mother is stressed. Practical means to determine whether baby is well fed are given: number of wet and soiled diapers per day as well as weight gain. Nursing on demand is recommended, as breastmilk supply is demand based. The book is practical and gives information on the benefits of breastfeeding. Weaning is also discussed.

To buy this book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding



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book review

Empty arms: Coping with miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death

Sherokee Ilse

by Mary Paliescheskey, Birth Guide

Mothering the Mother Birth Services

A small, but powerful book. While the vast majority of births in our society do not have to face this outcome, it is healing to have strong guidance and assistance for those who do need it.

This book covers all types of infant loss including abortion and adoption. Regardless of how the absence of the baby occurs, there is still a process of grieving for the future that could have been with all of you together.

Chapters are defined by the time frame from the loss. Chapter one is about how you learn about the death. The next covers the immediate decision you have to make - from holding the baby, taking photographs to naming your baby. (Take pictures and things for you to have for later.) The remainder of the book deals with the weeks and months to come with the healing process completing.

Emotionally, a most difficult time, but the author, who speaks from her personal experience with loss, encourages following what you need to do. Do not be concerned about what other people will think. This is time for bonding and letting go; all at the same time. The important part of facing death is the same as facing birth - follow what you know to be true for yourself.

To buy this book Empty Arms: Coping with Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Death

Other books by Sherokee Ilse


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Book Review


The Vaginal Birth after Cesarean Experience By


L. Baptista Richards

by Mary Paliescheskey, Birth Guide

Mothering the Mother Birth Services


This book illustrates its points through the birth stories of many women.All attempt a vaginal birth after cesarean section (VBAC).Some of them are successful and others are not.The book is very supportive of VBAC and encourages a sense of empowerment and confidence.


The conclusion reached by the author is that a successful VBAC is more likely if the woman/family has dealt with the emotional issues surrounding the previous cesarean.Another factor is that the family/support group needs to be of one mind and focused on the same outcome.It is very difficult for the woman to battle family, doctor, and herself in order to have her birth.It takes too much energy and the end result can be an unnecessary repeat cesarean.The author recommends classes specifically designed for VBAC couples and additional one-on-one sessions for emotional clearing.


The first section of the book documents the use of VBAC in Europe.VBACs are treated as any other vaginal birth and 90% of them result in vaginal births.In addition, VBACs have been done since 1933 over classical incisions with very successful outcomes. The book concludes with a resource listing for finding VBAC support groups in your area.


There is another book with a very similar title.It is not very supportive of VBACs and tends to focus on rare complications.This other book can generate fear and tends to encourage routine repeat sections.Care should be taken to be sure that recommendations of this book contains the full citation so the correct book is read.

To buy this book The Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Experience




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