On "Beyond Evidence: The Complexity of Maternity Care"

I must say that I've had a long-standing passion for Murray Enkin. I was first "introduced" to him in 1987, when he was an obstetrics professor at McMaster University, and was writing "A Guide to Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth". His book became my "bible". The underlying thesis of the book is that evidence from well-controlled trials should encourage the adoption of useful measures and the abandonment of those that are useless or harmful. The full text of the 2000 Edition is available online, courtesy of the authors!

Dr. Enkin's insightful comments in the "Guide" made me respect his judgment. His pragmatic review of the research helped to guide me in my role as a doula. I would photocopy pages of the book to give to clients, to help them negotiate the best care during pregnancy. Over the years, I have always checked in on his current research, and tried to follow his teachings.

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So, what’s the best birth book to read?

In 1982, I was obsessed with everything to do with babies. I ducked into every book store for months before I got pregnant. You’d find me sitting on the floor by the Pregnancy and Childbirth section, surrounded by books. These weren’t “Earth Mother” books. I started with the encyclopedic books, looking for the ones authored by doctors with the most letters behind their names... FRCP, etc. You know, the books which scare you half to death with descriptions of all possible things which can go wrong. Then, I went to the university medical bookstore to look at obstetric textbooks. I even studied an obscure Swiss method of breathing for labour, which I photocopied from the main library. This method left me exhausted, out of breath, and very, very confused. It didn’t help when my husband and I went to prenatal classes and pretty much “failed” breathing. And when the nurses at the hospital asked us what our “birth plan” was, we just said “to have it go well”, and then I asked if I could blow-dry my hair before the obstetrician started my induction. Yikes! Over-prepared with book knowledge....under-prepared with inner knowledge.

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