Birth Day: A Pediatrician Explores the Science, the History, and the Wonder of Childbirth

Mark Sloan, Author Ballantine $25 (384p) ISBN 978-0-345-50286-5

California pediatrician Sloan has helped deliver more than 3,000 babies, and he marvelously captures the precarious nature of childbirth—both its joys and its anxieties—while treating readers to an informal and captivating history of the medical practices surrounding birth in America. Sloan shares his first bumbled attempts at delivering babies as an intern, which leads him into reflect on why doctors persist in having women lie down to give birth when standing or squatting are better physical postures for it. Sloan ranges surely and splendidly over epidurals, cesarean births, premature birth and neonatal nurseries, as well as the state of an infant's five senses at birth. For example, he points out that the fetus not only smells the foods its mother eats, it remembers them after birth and tends to like what it remembers. Sloan counsels that women cannot prepare for labor, because events change rapidly during the process. He advises women to surround themselves with the people they love: “unlike other labor pain relievers she may choose, their benefits will last the rest of her life.” (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/09/2009
Release date: 03/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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