This Book = Knowledge and Power

I must admit, I didn’t read ONE parenting / birth book with both of my pregnancies.

Looking back, I wish I had read this book.

Which book you ask?

“Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering” By Sarah J. Buckley.


Sarah Buckley is a Family Physician, who has 4 of her own children. Her birth choices and parenting choices inspired her to write this book. She has looked at pregnancy, birth and parenting through the supported evidence from science, anthropology, psychology and medicine.

Anthropology? What is that? Before my journey to become a Doula I definitely had to google Anthropology, so for those of you who need to know. Here it is:

“Anthropology is a study of humans and human behaviour and societies in the past and present. Social Anthropology and cultural anthropology studies the norms and values of society.”


She has written it in a way that you can choose a topic you want to know about and flick to that chapter / page. So, if you aren’t a big book reader (like me) this is a great book to go straight to the source you want more information about. It is evidence-based so I found it a bit hard to read because I have 2 kids pawing at me and got lost in the numbers, but once you get your head around that, it gives you knowledge you really do need if you are planning to fall pregnant or are pregnant.

I enjoyed how throughout the book she scatters her own birth stories. This really makes the book more personal, and you feel like you have a connection to Sarah. She really does open her heart and soul up by sharing these experiences with you the reader.


This book has a plethora of evidence-based information about birth, the pros and cons about routine interventions and tests associated with birth these days.

The main topics that I was drawn to are below.

  • She speaks in depth about how to make decisions surrounding your birth and your choices:
    B – Benefits
    R – Risks
    A – Alternatives
    N – Nothing (Do Nothing)
  • Hormones of Labour and Birth and how they are affected by interferences
  • Breastfeeding


This topic is a massive deal. Mothers need to be informed about what choices they have to make whilst pregnant, while labouring and birth. There are so many things that come up now in pregnancy that we are tested / poked and prodded about. Don’t just say YES – think about the repercussions to those decisions on yourself and your baby.

Sarah talks about the BRAN model. This gives you so much power. How can a mother truly consent if she doesn’t have ALL of the information? I will run through a few examples for you:

B – Benefits

  • What are the benefits to me as a mother, my baby if I am going to be induced?

R – Risks

  • What are the risks if I do get an Epidural? Induction? Managed 3rd stage?

A – Alternative

  • What other things can I try before consenting to an GBS Screening?

N – Nothing

  • What happens if we do nothing? Come back in an hour and if things haven’t changed will reevaluate.

This decision making can be used not only in pregnancy, labour and birth – but you can adapt this to your day to day lives. If you think about this for any choice you need to make, I am sure you will not question the “what ifs” half as often.


Well I don’t know about you, but I’ve been known to blame hormones on a few “undesirable” personality flaws. You know, the usual “that time of month?” “geez you’re a bit hormonal” comments spring to mind. But why are we all so negative about hormones?  This chapter will change the way you look at hormones. They are amazing, incredible and oh so powerful. Seriously, us women are pretty darn clever if you ask me (and my hormones)!

Sarah refers to all the hormones which are released through an undisturbed birth as “Orchestration at its finest”

“Estrogen and Progesterone” well these bad boys are present from conception, they increase throughout your pregnancy and play a critical and complex in the start of labour. The 2 hormones combined also activate opiate painkilling pathways in the spinal cord in preparation for birth.

Let me tell you a little bit about “Oxytocin” the hormone of LUUURVVVVEEEEEEE. It’s called the hormone of love because of its connection to sexual activity, orgasms, birth and breastfeeding. This amazing hormone starts being released in early stages of labour, it is the contraction causing hormone.

Illustration from Inner Light

My favorite hormones which are released through labour are “Beta-endorphins”

Our bodies actually make our own natural pain relief. Beta-endorphins are equivalent to opiates. They lower stress levels, increase feelings of pleasure and euphoria and they increase throughout labour. What’s not to like right? It is said that these hormones are at their peak level at time of birth (for good reason) and they only stabilise 1-3 days later.

The “Fight or Flight” hormones which are known technically as “Catecholamines” are the group of hormones which slowly rise through labour and peak at transition. If this group of hormones are in overdrive in the early part of labour, it can slow things right down, or even stall labour……………this makes sense for mammals birthing in the wild. If a presence of danger is felt – the fight or flight hormones activate giving the mammal the ability to either fight, or more commonly flee to safety.

And now for the nurturing, mothering hormone. Can you guess which one that is? “Prolactin” the milk making hormone. The mothering hormone. These levels directly relate to the suckling intensity, duration and frequency of breastfeeding.


Breastfeeding – so amazing, so glorious, so glamorous…………maybe not quite glamorous, but none the less, it’s pretty amazing that our bodies grow a baby, and then we make milk to nourish that baby when Bub is earth side.

I often get people asking me when I am going to wean my son, he has only just turned 1.

So, this chapter is really informative of the nutrients not only from newborn phase, when our bodies make the beautiful thick colostrum full of immune boosting properties but also talks about the changes in the milk and nutritional density / properties for older nurslings.

Breastfeeding is one of the most valuable gifts you can give your baby – it enhances health and bonding. It is more than just transfer of milk.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends, that for optimal growth, development, and health, breastfeeding should continue for up to 2 years or beyond.

So, if you are thinking about having kids? Read this book! If you are pregnant? Read this book! If you are in labour? Read this book? Have you got kids? READ THIS BOOK!

In all honesty, if you are about to have a baby and you are wanting to inform yourself on all the pros and cons of anything to do with birth, this book covers it for you.

My name is Jackie O’Neill and I am a Doula who has trained at the Doula Training Academy. If you would like to talk more about your birthing options, please contact me:

Business Name: Live Love and Birth
Business Email: [email protected]
Phone: 0400 247 857
Facebook Link:
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