This book is essential reading for all midwives, students of midwifery, doulas, medical practitioners and any person who is connected professionally with or interested in childbirth. Copies should be available in every university, council library, and textbook and general bookstore. ‘Birthwork’ is a necessary and timely contribution to the birthing literature, in a time where the sacredness and transformative nature of birth is often lost to technology. Lynne Staff, RN EM, BHlthScNsg, M Mid (Hons), FACM
I loved this book. The way it is written, the layout of the book and the content all resonate with what birthwork is all about. Jenny does a fantastic job of presenting her experience and insights in a well-rounded manner. I drank up the information and felt satisfied and contented. Jill Cohen, Midwifery Today Summer 2007
This outstanding book is much more than a workbook for holistic midwifery practitioners and birth attendants. It is a gentle, thoughtful and passionate wake-up call for the dire need of our society for harmonious, meaningful and respectful interactions with our fellow human beings, within and outside of country boundaries. At every turn, the book highlights the universal importance of childbirth and how it affords immense potential for change, transformation and healing. Monika Boenigk – midwife and childbirth educator
A physically healthy mother and baby is usually regarded as a good birth outcome, but we know that there can be far-reaching emotional, psychological and spiritual issues for mothers. The holistic style of care advocated by ‘Birthwork’ ensures that these issues, along with many others, are carefully considered. Reading ‘Birthwork’ evoked a variety of powerful emotions within me, but most of all it gave me a sense of connectedness. I found that the wisdom of ‘Birthwork’ could be applied to life, not just birth. Su Foster, for Natural Parenting magazine
From Australia, comes a gorgeous and unique book called ‘Birthwork’. It is such an amazing and compelling read that it took me a very long time to write my review — it is difficult to describe such a remarkable book. It is truly extraordinary. This book covers issues of a range and depth I’ve never before seen in a birth text. ‘Birthwork’ is deep and intense. Truly a phenomenal read! Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE
‘Birthwork’ – this was a masterpiece of a book. Took me ages to finish, because it was very complex. I’ve never read a book like it. It was really extraordinary. Molly Remer
I love your book! It gives me this wonderful peaceful feeling, as though if I were a birthworker, I’d feel that I could be truly in service to women in an amazing process, in a grounded and powerful way. Pollyanna Darling
You know things come to you when you need them most – well this is your book. It is relating not only to my work beautifully but also to my personal life at the moment. Karen
I recently inherited a pile of beautiful birth resources from a fellow birth worker who has decided to move on to other avenues. Among them, the Caesarean by Michel Odent I decide to read first, great book, loved it! The second I picked out to read & started today was yours, Birthwork, a compassionate guide to being with birth. Thank you! I am captivated & can’t put it down! I look forward to finishing it & sharing it with others dedicated to caring for women too. Kate
Lynne Staff RN EM BHlthScNsg M Mid (Hons) FACM
Those who have anything to do with supporting women and their families through pregnancy, labour, birthgiving and early parenthood will be richer for reading ‘Birthwork’. Jenny’s writing is informed by working from her heart and soul with women and their families over many years. She brings to us a deep and compassionate understanding of what birth is truly about. This is a book that speaks of connectedness: between women, their families, each other and midwives. It speaks of awareness: of self, others and how important this awareness is in our relationships with the women we care for. It explores what it is like to be with women, as they move through their pregnancies, towards their birth, preparing themselves for birthgiving and motherhood. It asks us questions about boundaries, helping, sexuality, respect, relationships and compassion, and explores aspects of working with women in labour that are not often acknowledged, such as working with overwhelm, panic, exhaustion and despondency; pain, suffering and distress; the legacy of abuse; and caring for the care provider.
This book is essential reading for all midwives, students of midwifery, doulas, medical practitioners and any person who is connected professionally with or interested in childbirth. Copies should be available in every university, council library, and textbook and general book store. ‘Birthwork’ is a necessary and timely contribution to the birthing literature, in a time where the sacredness and transformative nature of birth is often lost to technology.
Shannon Morris – Midwifery News, Australian College of Midwives, Winter 2007
This book is not intended for the women enveloped in their pregnancy and birth journey, but for those who are alongside them. ‘Birthwork’ is a guide for anyone working with, or caring for pregnant, birthing and new mothers – that is not to say it excludes mothers but ‘just as a mother can enrich her experience by surrendering to change and growing awareness, so too can birthworkers enrich their experience through working with her.’
Jenny Blyth examines the inner workings of respect, empathy, boundaries and negotiation, listening, touching, finding balance, managing stress, conflict and teamwork. Chapters include working with labour and birth culture as a bigger picture to holistic care.
‘Birthwork’ is an inspirational Australian book enriched with simple and creative self- awareness exercises to deepen our perspective and experience and to enhance positive interaction with mothers.
Molly Brumm (mother of 3), for Berkelouws Bookstore
Jenny Blyth’s 25 years experience and knowledge about birth and new parents shines through every page! ‘Birthwork’ shows how to care with a ‘thinking mind’ and ‘feeling heart’ and invites both professional and non-professionals to develop compassion and acknowledge ‘the power of spirit and the ultimate mystery of birth’.
Blyth invites us to remember we are always more than the sum of our parts! Neglect either spirit, our emotions, our mental patterns or our body by focusing attention more on one part than the other, and we lose integration – the challenge of birth may overwhelm.
Now nothing invites more heated discussion and divisiveness than our personal experiences of birth. Blyth’s book is a very comprehensive workbook nourishing body, mind and spirit. For anyone working with pregnancy, birth and new parenthood, her book will enrich, resource you and support your personal development as a carer/obstetrician/midwife/father or mother to be!
Compassion and practicality enliven every chapter and story she shares. She champions and guides the crucial role of all those caring for the pregnant, birthing and new mother. She honours the challenges such an emotionally and physically powerful time demand of all involved and she does not shy away from the dark side of trauma or loss that birthing sometimes presents.
Many guides for pregnancy focus only on the physical changes and what to expect…however Blyth addresses the emotional journey to motherhood, and the healing opportunities pregnancy and birth create.
How our children enter the world does affect the society we live in!
‘Birthwork’ is the text I hope my midwives had studied! And my doctors! And my obstetrician!
It is a wonderful guide for the pregnant woman and her family and those who care for her at this time. Blyth frames the questions in each chapter to promote self-awareness of the issues. Mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of pregnancy and birth are all addressed. Constantly Blyth prompts you to consider and see the ‘whole’.
Included throughout the book are provoking quotes and birth stories that engage heart and mind.
Give this book to your pregnant daughters and soon to be dads – sons.
If you are pregnant invite your doctor/obstetrician /midwife/mum /dad and partner to buy a copy, read it and discuss it with you!
This book is a resource you’ll want to keep and share when those closest to you are about to embark on the adventure of their lifetime… transformation into parenthood.
Monika Boenigk – midwife and childbirth educator
This outstanding book is much more than a workbook for holistic midwifery practitioners and birth attendants. It is a gentle, thoughtful and passionate wake-up call for the dire need of our society for harmonious, meaningful and respectful interactions with our fellow human beings, within and outside of country boundaries.
Many of the topics explored have immediate relevance for anyone caring for women and couples and going through the mentally and emotionally challenging journey of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. At every turn, the book highlights the universal importance of childbirth and how it affords immense potential for change, transformation and healing.
Jenny addresses physiological, mental-emotional and spiritual aspects of the transformation to motherhood, particularly through labour and birth. Her attention to the counseling aspect of woman-care is a much needed, long over-due enrichment of conventional midwifery education.
The pace of the book reminds me of the pace of a woman in labour who feels in tune with herself, her body and her baby – taking it slowly, and chewing well before moving on to the next bite at progress.
Jenny’s use of language is full of warmth, understanding, patience and acceptance. She puts her arm over the reader’s shoulder and walks alongside for the duration, reaching deep and pulling things into the light for consideration and reflection. Each chapter is enriched with simple creative exercises (and the encouragement to find more), not only to enhance awareness and wellbeing of the women in our care but also for us as care-givers.
Today’s midwives shouldn’t be able to pass their exam without showing knowledge and understanding of the principles of holistic birthwork as taught in this book, since their education would not only be lacking an important human dimension, but also the skills needed to bring this dimension successfully into birthwork.
It’s the book (sometimes word for word) that I was going to write.
Dominique Finney, BHsc ND
An absolute must have reference for pregnant parents and those who want to approach birth with consciousness, relaxation and a knowledgeable perspective. This book is incredibly personal, and directed at all members of the family and close network in the process of your birthing. Directed at making birth an incredible, natural and memorable experience, it’s an emotional book written in a very appropriate manner.
Jenny Blyth is a well known Australian Coast birthworker who has experienced the joy of assisting at many births. Her experiences and insights are valuable for any potential parent wanting to gain an understanding of natural approaches to the process of pregnancy, birth and families. This book covers all aspects of birthing and leaves the reader feeling more confident and ready for the process.
The book is comprehensive, divided into four sections. The first part is devoted to preparation with Chapters covering awareness, communication, the middle way and relationships. The detail includes respect and relationships, negotiating, boundaries, the ‘heart’ of listening, when and how to touch, inviting connection with the baby, finding balance, managing stress, running on empty, energetic and the relationship in birth, group dynamics, teamwork, conflict and exploring edges. This section really prepares you mentally and emotionally to cope with varied situations and people including yourself and your baby.
Part Two ’Birthing’, is divided into two chapters ‘Working with Labor’ and ‘The Birthing Journey’ really reveal the dynamics of the birthing experience and cover such topics as pain, suffering and distress, focus and connection through labour, breathing for birth, intuition, working with anxiety and fear, working with exhaustion and despondency, transformation, stresses and stretches of childbearing, unhappiness and depression, body structure, cellular memory and inherited attitude, sharing the story and respectful goodbyes. Even if you have had birthing experiences in the past, this section will certainly open your mind to new ways and transcending past difficulties. It is full of wise advice and practical applications.
Part Three is dedicated to the bigger picture. Two chapters here cover the birthing field and the whole picture. Topics covered are safety, responsibility, how informed are you? Comfort and familiarity, birth culture, the medical model meets natural birth, crossing cultural paradigms, holism spiritual birth work, birth is sacred, accepting the mystery and loving presence. This section is about universal love and respect and how you can be responsible on many levels during the process. The awareness of the big picture is certainly important in our ever-changing political environment.
Part four covers further considerations. This is getting deeply into such topics as vaginal exploration and preparation, letting down the pelvis, the sacrum, useful remedies, working with water, nurturing breastfeeding, fields of care and sources. This section is very easily practical and the ideas presented will ensure confidence and preparation for birth and breastfeeding are done in a natural and thorough manner.
To read a book of this calibre is special because it doesn’t hold back on the information. There are details of wise women traditions and cultural rituals every woman instinctively knows but doesn’t understand. This book is an easy read, it’s not academic, but it is thoroughly researched using both traditional methods and the vast experiences of the case studies and women involved to make the information locally relevant to Australian families.
‘The Big Stretch’ DVD by Jenny Blyth and Alieta Belle is 60 minutes of amazing footage and very personal stories of Women going through pregnancy and birth. This DVD complements ‘Birthwork’ very much and I highly recommend you get hold of a copy and watch it too. The philosophy and education in the book is shown as graphic and highly detailed footage in this outstanding birthing DVD.
Jill Cohen, Midwifery Today Summer 2007
‘Inherently, we have the ability to use our positive human qualities skillfully’
‘Birthwork’ is about what we are, how we react and wise ways of being with birth.
Jenny’s unique concepts thread this book together. Her idea is to fast-track the exploration of awareness during the childbearing year, keeping up with the continual fast pace at which life moves. She delves into the issues confronting care providers and mothers: how to face these issues and work toward better understanding and better birth. Helping mothers feel prepared and ready spiritually, emotionally, and physically creates a whole way of caring for birth. This book does a thorough job while encouraging readers to search themselves for new awareness.
The book has four parts. Part 1 concerns preparation. The author explores how we communicate, the art of language, the middle way of care that helps prevent burnout, and relationship factors such as dynamics within teamwork, conflict, and weaving in and out of birthing families’ lives.
Part 2 concerns birthing. How we work with labour instinctively and intuitively. Breathwork, freeing up stuck-ness, body structure, and inherited attitudes are just a few of the ideas revealed.
Part 3 involves the bigger picture. How we work within the birthing field. Reflections on safety issues, responsibility, birth culture and crossing cultural paradigms. Looking at the whole picture of birth through holism, spirituality, along with the sacredness of birth.
Finally, part 4 rounds out the book with further considerations. Using bodywork, vaginal preparation, working with water and nurturing breastfeeding are examples of what is presented.
I loved this book. The way it is written, the layout of the book and the content all resonate with what birthwork is all about. Jenny does a fantastic job of presenting her experience and insights in a well-rounded manner. I drank up the information and felt satisfied and contented.
Molly Remer, Citizens for Midwifery – International Birth Wisdom Sampler May 11, 2009
From Australia, comes a gorgeous and unique book called ‘Birthwork’. It is such an amazing and compelling read that it took me a very long time to write my review—it is difficult to describe such a remarkable book. I have never read another book like this. It is truly extraordinary. Subtitled “a compassionate guide to being with birth,” ‘Birthwork’ was written for all birthworkers–anyone who works directly with birthing women (midwives, doulas, nurses, childbirth educators, physicians…).
This book covers issues of a range and depth I’ve never before seen in a birth text. Subsections include titles like: touching vaginas, respect and relationship, dipping in and out of the birth milieu, group dynamics, conflict, birth culture, loving presence, birth is sacred, trauma release, letting down in the pelvis, and stresses and stretches of childbearing. This is just a sampling of the amazing, comprehensive range of topics explored in ‘Birthwork’. I particularly enjoyed sections on directed breathing and ‘dynamic anatomy in labour’. The book delves into a lot of the emotional and psychological elements of being in a caregiving field and also covers physical components as well.
The book includes lots of questions to ask yourself to increase self-awareness, understanding, and personal development and also exercises to try/explore. Some of the questions are difficult to answer and require you to take a deep look at your motives and ideas about doing birthwork.
The photographs are stunning and there is gorgeous cover art (front, back, and inside). ‘Birthwork’ has a spiritual component that runs throughout—sort of an Eastern philosophy—that might not appeal to all readers.
The book includes sources and a glossary of fields of care, but no index and no resources sections. It is an expensive book, but so very worth it!
‘Birthwork’ is deep and intense. I usually read very quickly and this book took me several weeks to finish because it needs time and space to soak in and be absorbed. Truly a phenomenal read!
Su Foster, Natural Parenting Magazine, Australia
A physically healthy mother and baby is usually regarded as a good birth outcome, but we know that there can be far-reaching emotional, psychological and spiritual issues for mothers. The holistic style of care advocated by ‘Birthwork’ ensures that these issues, along with many others, are carefully considered.
Jenny Blyth has drawn on her experience of more than 20 years in support of women through pregnancy, birth and early parenting to bring us this volume of wisdom and inspiration. ‘Birthwork’ is sure to become a point of reference for a whole generation of care providers.
The book delves deeply into the sacredness and spirituality of birth, and highlights the emotional vulnerability of birthing women, while also imparting loads of practical advice.
‘Birthwork’ clearly demonstrates how our actions and words can profoundly affect women in their birthing. If all birth care providers were to read and apply this text, I believe there would be much less incidence of birth trauma and postnatal depression.
A beautifully written and presented guide of over 450 pages, ‘Birthwork’ is punctuated with real stories of women’s birthing experiences. There are also exercises at the end of each chapter to facilitate reflection and self-awareness.
Jenny Blyth’s style of writing is like that of her birth care – she offers gentle suggestions and guidance clearly from the heart. It often feels like there is pure love pouring from the pages as one reads.
One of the main focal points of the book is the relationship between the birthing woman and her care providers, offering guidance on communication, negotiation, group dynamics and other aspects of relationship.
There is also very practical information on working with labour, and a valuable section on the wider personal implications of the birthing journey. Jenny Blyth goes on further to examine issues in the birthing community and the culture surrounding birth.
‘Birthwork’ not only suggests how care providers may assist birthing mothers, but also discusses how they may manage their own concerns such as stress, personal boundaries, fear, intuition and more.
Essential reading for birth care professionals, ‘Birthwork’ would also benefit anyone experiencing birth, including partners, support team members and mothers in preparation for birth.
Reading ‘Birthwork’ evoked a variety of powerful emotions within me, but most of all it gave me a sense of connectedness. I found that the wisdom of ‘Birthwork’ could be applied to life, not just birth.
We have the opportunity to create harmony in the world and texts such as this can show us the way. ‘Birthwork’ may very well become the ‘Spiritual Midwifery’ of our times.