Book Review: In Search of the Perfect Birth
By Elizabeth McKeown, 2011
186 pages, paperback.
Reviewed by Molly Remer
Written by a mother of three, In Search of the Perfect Birth is an unassisted childbirth manifesto. It chronicles the author’s journey through the births of her children—the first born in the hospital, the second a planned homebirth ending in hospital transport, and the third an unassisted birth. Elizabeth is strongly convicted that unassisted birth is the right choice for most women, though I feel she is also fairly respectful that other women’s experiences may or may not lead them to the same conclusion. This book is not a do-it-yourself guide to UC, but is an exploration of one woman’s experiences in healing from birth trauma and taking full responsibility for the birth of her next child. I was fascinated by her conclusions that her own birth trauma wasn’t healed through unassisted birth itself, but through the decision to take charge of her own birth care.
The book is pretty rough around the edges and could use some more editing and polishing. There is a stream-of-consciousness feel to the writing style that can be a little confusing and disjointed.
The author makes some excellent points with regard to the restrictions that can be placed on women’s birth freedoms by midwives also, noting wryly that if you choose the “middle ground” you may well end up with all the downsides of being told what to do with your own body, but “without the opiates that make it bearable!” Elizabeth’s homebirth turned hospital transport experience was pretty horrific and it was difficult to read about. She also writes with candor about the degree and intensity of pain she experienced during all of her births (including the UC).
In Search of the Perfect Birth will be of particular interest to women who already support unassisted birth and to women who have experienced birth trauma and are seeking resolution in future natural childbirths. It is an honest and heartfelt story.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.