Dynamic Positions in Birth: A fresh look at how women's bodies work in labour

Dynamic Positions in Birth: A fresh look at how women's bodies work in labour
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ISBN:  978-1-78066-115-5
Publisher:  Pinter & Martin

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  (6 Reviews)

Author: Margaret Jowitt
Published: March 2014
Edition: 1st

Binding: paperback
Format: 135 x 216 mm
Pages: 224
Illustrations: b/w
Pinter & Martin edition available: worldwide
Translation rights: Pinter & Martin

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Most women give birth in hospitals, institutions modelled around the needs of the people who work there. The delivery room is designed around the obstetric bed which was designed for the benefit of the obstetrician rather than the woman giving birth. Despite research showing the benefit of upright positions in labour and birth, most women in the UK still give birth in the semi-reclined position, pushing their baby out against the forces of gravity. The author argues that unnatural positions make labour and birth more painful and difficult for modern women than it was for their ancestors. How did we come to put the needs of care givers above those of the labouring woman? Is there anything that can be done?

Starting with a short history of birth furniture, Dynamic Positions in Birth goes on to explore the anatomy and physiology of labour from an evolutionary perspective and explores how rethinking positions for labour and birth could benefit mothers and their babies. Equally important is the need to change attitudes to birth so that women are encouraged to play a more active part in the birth of their babies instead of being subjected to clinical interventions designed to mitigate the adverse effects of labouring in a starkly unnatural environment.

Margaret Jowitt argues that it is possible to give women labouring in hospital a better chance of giving birth naturally. The book concludes by calling for a fresh look at the environment for birth. Delivery rooms can be made more user friendly by introducing  furniture designed around women’s need for physical support during labour as well as for the birth, and by hiding away  the more alarming technology unless it is needed. Women need a less forbidding environment and more encouragement to move freely and adopt positions  which will enhance their chance of achieving a normal birth.

Average Rating (6 Reviews):  
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Absolutely Inspiring.
Friday, 22 May 2015  | 

I’m not sure I can actually praise this book enough. I think I can probably sum it up in three words: Engaging, intelligent and inspiring.

Although the subject matter of this book is in reality quite technical Margaret Jowitt never strays into the realms of dryness. Seamlessly merging the history of childbirth, physiology and challenging of current medical practice it makes an absolutely compelling read for anyone with even a passing knowledge or interest in the birth process. Although referenced extensively, the references never become overpowering and the studies she cites she explains clearly and concisely. At not one point did I feel lost or confused. Jowitt is clear, interesting and obviously passionate about the subject.

One thing I realised while reading is how limited clinical trials and studies are when they are studying anything relating to birth. Without the boundaries that clinical trials impose she is able to look at the process of birth holistically (the only way I feel it should ever be looked at). She is able to draw together lots of separate findings and experiences together with her knowledge of physiology and bio-chemistry, and with that she brings forward some amazing theories full of common sense. I would say anyone in possession of a uterus would be hard pushed not to feel the truth of the ideas she presents, even if they haven’t experienced labour in that way before.

Seriously, I have put sticky notes all over this thing. Some of them even just say “wow” on them. There are so many instances where something she has written triggered so many ideas in my mind of how to teach women about the powers of themselves and how to use simple physical exercises to explain concepts of pain management and pain purpose. I just couldn’t wish any harder that I had read this book before I had my baby two years ago.

This should be required reading for anybody working or training in the area of childbirth education or maternity care and I’d highly recommend it to any pregnant woman.

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A great book to link theory with practice
Wednesday, 3 December 2014  | 

This book gives a fascinating overview of the mechanics of birth. Margaret Jowitt is not afraid to challenge conventional thinking around birth and her discussions are well referenced and supported by evidence. It makes the physiology easy to apply to practice. This book is an important read for midwives and obstetricians but is interesting and accessible enough that anyone with an interest in birth, and especially to expectant parents, should read it.

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A fresh look at how women’s bodies work in labour
Wednesday, 22 October 2014  | 

This is a simply brilliant book which looks at the physiology of birth, how the uterus works and why using positions and gravity are key for labour and birth.

The book looks at common medical practices – such as being on the bed – and challenges it with a different perspective and the science of the physiology – and gives a better understanding of the relationship between the hormones of labour and how the uterus functions.

It reinforces how unique labour is and how the pattern of contractions and the pace of labour can be affected by the position of a baby, the positions of the woman in labour and how relaxed and safe she feels. It talks about what is normal, what affects labour and what makes a different to birthing women and to the flow of labour – every birth professional should read this book to gain a positive perspective on the physiology of birth.

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A Must Read for all Working with Pregnant Women
Tuesday, 22 July 2014  | 

Jowitt’s passion about making birth a more positive experience for women just shines through in every chapter of this book. Editor of Midwifery Matters, the magazine of the Association of Radical Midwives, she believes ‘that good midwifery care based on the needs of the individual woman is the key to safer childbirth’.
The book is split into sections making it easy to navigate for those who just want to dip in and out. She begins by exploring the historical development of birth furniture and the implications such technology has had on the birth environment, especially for women birthing in hospitals where the main focus is the bed. She explores anthropological literature for childbirth and looks at different cultural approaches, bringing her discussion back to what physical support women actually need to labour effectively.
This is a really rather fabulous book and the only birth book I have read in recent months that I have immediately recommended to colleagues. Full of useful information, packed with relevant research findings and written in a very pleasant style, there is nothing not to like.

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An engaging read
Friday, 13 June 2014  | 

An interesting and relevant book. I was particularly pleased to see that Margaret Jowitt makes use of some important recent studies (eg Birthplace, 2011) to back up her writing. The book is well illustrated with images of birth through the ages and this helps the book come alive. I particularly enjoyed the final chapter on Making Birth Better, as an aspiring midwife it certainly gave me plenty to think about.


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Understanding more about the Anathomy of the female body and the Physiology of Birth
Wednesday, 30 April 2014  | 

This book has five amazing chapters about the physiology of birth and the anatomy of the female body. It also cleverly guides the reader into the story of how birth became medicalised and how the relationship between families and doctors became about fashion and social status, changing the dynamics of birth.
All doctors, midwives and obstetricians should read this. But ultimately it is for women so they can take a more active role in their care because knowledge is power!
Enjoy your reading


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