Book Review – Reclaiming Childbirth as a Rite of Passage

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Reclaiming Childbirth as a Rite of Passage written by Dr Rachel Reed
Book Review written by Perth Doula Michelle McKechnie

Dr Rachel Reid captured my attention while listening to a podcast “The Midwives’ Cauldron”. Sharing her knowledge and extensive experience as a midwife and her despair with the hospital system, cemented my purpose to embark on my career as a doula. Her continued work to advocate for the rights of birthing mothers has given me hope that together we can help make a difference. When I heard her speak about her book Reclaiming Childbirth as a Rite of passage…… I knew I had to read it!

I love how Rachel started with the history, “herstory”, the evolution of women, the hierarchy, and the patriarchy. It gives any reader a deep understanding of how evolution, modernisation, and bureaucracy as stripped females of their rites to a birth at the grass roots of nature, trusting in themselves, their knowledge, and their instinct. The way Rachel unfolded the truths and presented the big picture of herstory, from women’s menstrual cycles, through ancient birthing customs and beliefs, to the modern birth was by far the best history lesson I have ever sat through and didn’t get bored or fidgety!

Reid “For too long knowledge about women bodies have been constructed by men and viewed from the perspective of pathology and medicine”.

Rachel explained the different rites of passages – menstruation, pregnancy and birth and the importance of listening and knowing your body better than anyone else.

The way Rachel told Eve’s story was a wonderful way for me (as a training Doula) to help understand the physiological aspects of childbirth. Without a midwifery degree, and only experience in birthing 5 children myself, I found this to be much easier to understand, and relatable than reading, say a textbook on the many intricate processes in relation to conception through to childbirth.

The way Rachel referenced with quotes from midwives, doulas, birth partners and birthing mothers to support her findings and weave her knowledge amongst this, held such a strong sense of truth and reality. This is what I found kept me deeply immersed in the beautiful combination of real life and the knowledge that drenched the pages.

Reinforcing throughout the book the importance of birthing mothers being the experts who are so often faced with the challenges between rites of protection and practice. The importance of birthing mothers to make informed decisions on medical interventions to maintain their power and reclaim or maintain their rite of passage.

Learning the ancient collective culture of women in modern birth and their stories has been pivotal in shaping my views and providing me with the confidence to encourage all my birthing mothers and their partners to trust and believe that their bodies are designed for this, and that medical intervention of any form needs to be understood prior to birth and consent given based on informed knowledge. I loved how, towards the end of her book, Rachel weaved information on medical births, the different experiences that women had (positive and negative), in an unbiased and raw form.

Rachel Reed’s rite of passage will be the marker, my lighthouse and reference point for which I will lean into if I feel lost along my journey as a doula.

My name is Michelle McKechnie, and I am a training doula who is completing extensive training at the Doula Training Academy with Vicki Hobbs.

If you would like to talk more about your birthing options, please contact me:

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Perth Doula Services

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[email protected]

0419 571 387

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