Breech Birth
by Benna Waites

[2003, London: Free Association Books, $29.95, 224 pages, paperback]

[Review first published in Midwifery Today Issue 69, Spring 2004, © 2004, Midwifery Today, Inc. Review by Cher Mikkola.]

When I first held this book, it fell open to the dedication page—heartening, in that Benna Waites dedicated it to her own breech-birthed baby. First-hand experience is a mighty inspiration.

Waites begins by describing the uncertainty, the negative attitudes (“malpresentation is a hefty label to bear”) and the general lack of positive, helpful information that could help women with breech babies make decisions rather than turn their fate over to the automatic cesarean-section mindset. She explores possible causes for breech position, including features of the mother’s body (e.g., pelvis, uterus), placental location, inheritance, mother’s lifestyle (e.g., sedentary, smoker), psychological factors and more. Chapters about external cephalic version and alternative self-help methods for turning a baby precede exhaustive chapters about selection criteria and management of vaginal breech birth. The author discusses—extensively and in positive terms—decision-making and negotiating for a vaginal birth.

The appendix includes six dramatic breech-birth photos that speak eloquently on behalf of this mode of birth. Contacts, Web sites, further reading and more than 300 references give readers ample opportunity to make an informed choice.

This is a seminal work about breech babies and the power of their mothers to reclaim a positive attitude about their pregnancy and make informed decisions for themselves and their very normal babies. Let’s give the mother/breech-baby dyad the respect it deserves.

Reviewer Cher Mikkola is a contributing editor at Midwifery Today magazine, the editor of Midwifery Today E-News, and a freelance writer, editor and proofreader who specializes in the field of birth.

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