Spirituality and Childbirth: Meaning and care at the start of life
Edited by Susan Crowther and Jenny Hall
Routledge, 2017, £28.79, 222pp, ISBN: 9781138229402
Reviewed by Mary Hopper, retired lecturer in midwifery at Oxford Brookes University
A midwife is asked how she sees spiritual care being achieved in her practice area, she replies 'I'm not sure. We call the chaplain if there's a problem and it's fine if people want time to pray after the birth of their child. Is that the right answer? There's no time for anything much.'
Anyone associated with childbearing and parenting, can only benefit from the wealth of information found in this book. It sets out to question the art and meaning of childbirth by considering spirituality from a variety of perspectives.
Edited by two long standing midwifery academics, they draw upon a vast array of evidence and practice offered by experts from different fields. Throughout the text, there is a linking of theory to practice for current practitioners on how to achieve the optimum outcome for mother and baby when there is a shortage of staff or beds, limited resources, or a high-tech environment.
Every aspect of the birthing experience is covered - from the moment of conception through to parenting. Exploring the spiritual impact of pregnancy and birth on parents and those around, it addresses both positive and negative outcomes.
The book suggests we reconsider how we 'hold the sacred space' during pregnancy, labour and birth, and reshape practice, while listening to our own, inner spiritual voice.