Book Review by Catherine Bell
Cheers to Childbirth: A Dad’s Guide to Childbirth Support
Author of Cheers to Childbirth, Lucy Perry, is the founder of Beer and Bubs, a birth education session aimed at dads-to-be.
I opened my shining new copy of this book nervously…I always worry when a book has been built up and built up, highly recommended and then it doesn’t knock me off my feet.
I did my usual flick through, reserved for non-fiction, to see what jumped out at me. Several birth stories by fathers, short chapters covering various important aspects of pregnancy, birth and the early weeks. One chapter is called: Transition: Duck for Cover! There is positive humour throughout the book.
One of the final chapters, discussing caesareans, puts a positive spin on this very serious procedure and gives a perfect mix of risk versus benefit, giving suggestions on how to avoid trauma and be a great support during and after. Lucy peppers the chapter with real stories of others, providing comic relief in an otherwise very serious chapter. She points out the value of a doula, even during caesarean births. She gives great tips to Dads for dealing with relatives. She backs up every statement with evidence. It is succinct – straight to the point – but powerful. This chapter alone could be of massive benefit to any informed birth plan, be it your expected plan or your contingency. Understanding this will limit trauma.
And, of course, I was quite critical of the birth plan section. It begins:
“You may wish to write a birth plan…” damn straight, I thought!
Lucy points out that this process happens in the MONTHS before birth, Five Stars there!
She also points out that the process is “a chance to discuss your preferences and come to an agreement on the choices you have available”…this sentence contains so much. This is an essential process, and knowing the options available is vital.
The section goes on to warn of rigid plans, or overly wordy plans. Your plan is not an essay – it is an executive summary, a series of simple statements regarding your care, with room for the ‘what if’s’.
Lucy also points out a belief from Denise Love; that a birth plan is written for yourself. The process of Informed Birth Planning is most definitely for yourself. You need to understand your options and be clear about your needs. The written plan is a summary of this process and need only include the vital points for your caregivers, but your primary support (partner , doula, friend) will have been briefed on the finer details. As lucy points out, “the last thing you want during labour is to discover that you and your partner disagree on something…”. Hear Hear!
The short section finishes by pointing out that you can find plans online…and this is where I add my two cents and a word of caution. If you opt to follow and be heavily influenced by a ‘ready-made’ plan, but do not take the time to investigate each point and understand it fully and firmly – then it is NOT an Informed birth plan.
Overall, this book is highly recommended. It is a fabulous introduction to all the various aspects that need to be considered. I would place it in the Must Have category, and encourage any dad-in-waiting who has NFI to read this. From there, he can delve into the more in depth offerings and explore the more specific aspects relevant to his own family. This book is the perfect launching pad, and will lead to marvellous discoveries and a sense of wonder and awe rather than fear and trepidation.
You can find out more about the beer and bubs sessions, which are run in pubs all over Australia, and purchase the book from http://www.bearandbubs.com.au, or head to http://www.cheerstochildbirth.com.au