Heart & Hands: A Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, 4th Edition
by Elizabeth Davis

[2004, Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts; 312 pages, paperback.]

[Review first published in Midwifery Today Issue 74, Summer 2005, © 2005, Midwifery Today, Inc. Review by Cher Mikkola.]

We've trusted midwife, author, wise woman Elizabeth Davis for a long time now and loved this book since its first edition in 1987. She has offered her heart and hands countless times to readers who seek her wisdom about the art of midwifery and the art of growing and birthing a baby, as well as to the many mothers she's served during their childbearing year. This new edition is a testimony to the sacred work she accomplishes.

Davis's revision updates information about important matters such as group B streptococcus, VBAC, gestational diabetes, and postdatism, reworks her previous writing about psychosocial issues and introduces new material about the practice of midwifery. But probably most in tune with her insightful and empowering outlook on the experience of being a woman is her reworked language that testifies to the certainty that "birth works, and that calm, undisturbed birthing mothers know what to do, and when."

Overarching chapter subjects flow from prenatal care to birth to postpartum care, with dozens of subtopics in each chapter. These sections are packed with nuts-and-bolts information laced with commentary and perspective. Some of the best drawings I've ever seen in midwifery/birth manuals each speak a thousand words of instruction. Liberal use of sidebars highlights information that midwives need to locate at a glance. A lot of parents-in-waiting will pick this book up, too, so I appreciate that in some chapters, Davis has included "For Parents" sidebars. And as always, Suzanne Arms's beautiful photographs illuminate the text throughout. The final chapters address the processes of becoming a midwife and surviving as a midwife. The book resolves with a fantastic collection of helpful appendices, including useful forms for midwifery practice, supply lists, resources, MANA statements and accountability guidelines.

Elizabeth Davis shows us once again that both black-and-white, hard-facts knowledge and deep wisdom and feminine empowerment are aspects of the best midwifery care.

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

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