Birth Emergency Skills Training
by Bonnie U. Gruenberg

[2008. Ducannon, Pennsylvania: Birth Guru Publications, 305 pages, paperback.]

[Review first published in Midwifery Today Issue 89, Spring 2009, © 2009, Midwifery Today, Inc. Review by Jan Tritten.]

Birth Emergency Skills Training is a book that should be in every midwife’s personal library. If you take the first letter of each word in the title, it spells BEST. The book is a comprehensive “Manual for Out-of-Hospital Midwives.” It will help you serve women better because you will be armed with an amazing amount of information, right at your fingertips. It is spiced with many mnemonics to help you remember key information. It also includes many lists, tables, illustrations and photos—Bonnie is also an accomplished artist! Between the covers you will find information on common complications as well as very obscure ones that hopefully you will never see. It covers complications that occur in pregnancy, birth and postpartum, with help on what to do and when to refer care.

Bonnie has excellent discussions of critical thinking in emergencies, how to manage, co-manage or refer as well as a great epilogue on the herstory of midwifery. Some other chapters include bleeding and hemorrhage, pain, hypertensive disorders, trauma and shock, preterm labor, multiple gestation, malpresentations and shoulder dystocia, fetal heart monitoring and neonatal resuscitation. This book is an excellent resource for all birth practitioners. The only thing I found missing is discussion of the importance of nutrition in correcting and avoiding complications.

If something unusual is occurring, this book will give you the information to explain to your client what is likely going on with her and her baby. When a complication comes up, it is important to remember mom is still having a baby; that is, she having a miracle. The rest of her care needs to be CARE. In any case, this book will give you the information you need to serve mothers and babies well.

As midwives our role is to ascertain normality, or to help get a woman into the normal range with information, knowledge and techniques. BEST has all of these. Doulas and childbirth educators can use this book, too. Often they are the only ones who will explain situations to the women they serve, this book potentially has a larger role among other practitioners.

Reviewer Jan Tritten is the the founder and editor-in-chief of Midwifery Today magazine. She became a midwife in 1977 after the wonderful homebirth of one of her daughters. Her mission is to make loving midwifery care the norm for birthing women and their babies throughout the world.

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