A Compassionate guide to being with Birth
By Jenny Blyth 2005
ISBN 0-9757671-0-0 460 pages

BirthworkAn 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. Details and traditions are graphic and directed at making birth works 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 Birth worker 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 labor, 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 caliber 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 Insights about Birth 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 the book reviewed 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 is graphic and highly detailed footage in this outstanding birthing DVD.

You can contact Jenny Blyth on

Review by Dominique Finney, BHsc ND