Saturday, 16 August 2014

How You Were Born: Review

Recently the boys and I were sent a copy of this book to review. While we were waiting for Bob to arrive Sausages and I read a couple of books in this genre. I tried as far as possible to steer away from resources that glossed over birth or told white lies rather than explain the facts to children. I believe that Sausages is well able to understand the process of birth.

breaking waters

This book does just what I was aiming for: it explains the processes of birth in a factual way, including key details that the young reader can take on board, such as delivery of the placenta, contractions or "waves," and the monitoring of the baby's heartbeat. There are also other features to discuss, such as the mama bouncing on a ball and laboring in the bath. The author discusses the emotions of the parents, from anticipation to welcoming. The illustrations are beautiful, especially the human figures, and can provide a starting point for varying the story to fit your own child's birth.

holding baby for the first time, complete with umbilical cord

There are a few things about this book that I didn't like. One was the slightly coy use of language: "tummy muscles" where I would have said uterus; "between my legs" and "out of my tummy" where I would have said vulva. I appreciate that many parents feel the need to avoid using more anatomical labels, but in my experience this confuses children. I also found the story very specific, in terms of time line. Really the story told wasn't like either of my births (one premature in hospital, one very fast at home with delayed cord clamping and no midwife), so when reading it with the boys I was constantly changing the words, or saying "but when you were born this didn't happen/this happened instead." In which case, the beautiful pictures are perfectly sufficient.

This book is part of a series featuring the same family, and is good for supporting the discourse on such subjects as birth and breastfeeding in any family, which is surely inevitable. It would be lovely to have the set for continuity, which is important for small children learning complicated subjects. I would especially recommend it if your child had a fairly conventional birth, since then it is more likely to match the story of the book.

Have you read any of the books in this collection with your children? What did you think? Do let me know!


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