I wanted to read this book, not only because I am interested in all things related to natural birth, but also because the foreword is written by Ina May Gaskin, whom I regard as life-changing and inspirational.
Tadashi Yoshimura is a Japanese obstetrician and a proponent of natural childbirth. In this book, he addresses the transition in his philosophy of care from favoring highly medicalized, physician-“controlled” births to slow, natural, mother-centered births. He realizes that the feelings and true needs of mothers and babies must be prioritized over the convenience of birth attendants. He also discusses how not all that is important in life can be quantified and categorized by “science,” and he asserts that we should stop letting our lives, especially our reproductive lives, be so controlled and regulated by “science”; we must leave room for some mystery and spirituality. I generally agree with him on these points and applaud him for sharing his perspective.
However, the way he says some things is just plain offensive and bizarre. Such as: “A woman who has a baby artifically by cesarean misses the chance to be a true Mother or a true Woman.” And, while explaining his take on why there has been a recent increase in infertility:
The reason it is difficult to get pregnant is that people don’t have spontaneous sex as in the olden days. They record basal body temperature and identify the date of ovulation and say, “OK, let’s make love.” Such carefully planned sex cannot lead to pregnancy.
Personally, I am a huge fan of the “fertility awareness method,” as described in Taking Charge of Your Fertility and other books, and all four of my babies have been planned and conceived by recording basal body temperature and identifying the date of ovulation! I feel like this guy, even though, whoop-dee-doo, he’s been a doctor for decades and has written a book about birth, still doesn’t really understand women or their bodies.
Or how about this one: “God will never deign to participate in medical childbirth in which a doctor tinkers with a woman’s body like a plastic model.”
I mean, medicalized births are usually not ideal, but who does this guy think he is to make such a strong statement about God’s involvement, or lack thereof, in the birth of a child?
He also wants all of the women who come to his clinic to walk for three hours every single day, and he says, “I scold my patients more harshly than any other doctor when I find a sign of laziness or overeating.” Pregnant women–adults!–do not need to be “scolded” or shamed in any way.
So while this book promotes a few worthy ideas, overall, I would not recommend it to anybody, especially pregnant women. There are much better, kinder natural birth books available.