Book Review: Joyous Childbirth Changes the World

joyous

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.

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4 responses to “Book Review: Joyous Childbirth Changes the World

  1. Do you have some tips on other “natural birth” books? 🙂

    • I love all of Ina May Gaskin’s books. Also, I recommend The Natural Pregnancy Book, by Aviva Jill Romm; Having a Baby, Naturally, by Peggy O’Mara; The Big Book of Birth, by Erica Lyon; and The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy, by Shonda Parker.

  2. I was bothered to by the assertion that if a woman has a c-section she is not a real woman or a real mother. We are born to be women and we are moms if we have or adopt kids and it is pure nonsense to say that women aren’t real women or real mothers because there is some complication that leads to a c-section. Some moms and babies are only alive because of that c-section. My husband and I are all for spontaneous sex and that’s how we conceived- we’ve had sex almost every day (right up to labor) so naturally we conceived but others have problems and do have to plan and it is foolish to say planning doesn’t when clearly it does. We always have had natural childbirth at home for all births. Clearly this guy is jealous and hostile towards women because we can give life and he can’t- he has womb envy and is so arrogant it turned me off. I am an Atheist but think telling Christian women that the god they believe in will not be involved if they need medical interventions which can be necessary to save lives is committing medical malpractice that may cause some women to turn down a needed c-section and die as a result.

  3. Thanks for this. I was excited to read this book, and then read yours and other reviews which kind of made me realize it is full of a lot of weird projections.

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