This book was conceived nearly thirty years ago in the kitchen of a dear friend’s home. At that time, she and I, both midwives and each the mother of a young child, were beginning a lifetime journey of uncovering and rediscovering a great wealth of information about childbearing and child raising. We were gleaning information from a variety of sources: anthropological research, medical and lay texts, our work as mothers and midwives, the experiences of other midwives and mothers, and, most significantly, what we were learning from our intuition, from each other as women friends, from our partnerships with our mates, and from our babies. We had found that pregnancy did not have to be ten (lunar) months of drudgery, discomfort, and exhaustion. We were finding that pregnancy and motherhood could be highly creative times, filled with confidence, perceptiveness, awe, and appreciation for the beauty of our changing physical shape, and the extension of this in the form of our growing children.
Standing in the doorway of that kitchen on an early spring day, a moment ripe for beginnings, I found an inspiration and made the commitment to carry this inspiration inside me, to gestate and nurture my discoveries until, like a baby after a full-term pregnancy, a book would be ready to emerge, to be born—a book to share the joy and strength I was gaining from my experiences. That so many women see pregnancy as a burden to be endured, a time fraught with insecurity and doubt, seemed a great loss. Aware of the transformative potential of the written word, I became determined to contribute a positive, supportive narrative about pregnancy by a woman and mother, for women and mothers everywhere.
I now have four children, all of whom have grown and flourished in their own unique and significant ways. I’ve had healthy pregnancies, strong labors, and beautiful births. I’ve nursed my babies and deeply enjoyed each of our children through every stage of childhood, adolescence, and unfolding adulthood. Each pregnancy has reaffirmed my conviction that natural health care is the bedrock of continuing wellness for myself and my family, and watching my children develop into strong, healthy beings has only strengthened that principle. In addition to my own pregnancies, I have had the honor to know and assist many women and families on the mostly joyous, sometimes tumultuous, and occasionally painful path of pregnancy. I experienced life come full circle this past January when I served as the midwife for the birth of my first grandchild. The joy I felt as I witnessed and supported my baby as he experienced the birth of his baby was transcendent, otherworldly, a moment that far exceeded any fantasy I could have dreamed up.
As women have become increasingly aware of the options of natural birth and home birth, and of the potential value of natural therapies as safe alternatives to some of the conventional medical treatments of common pregnancy complaints, I have watched with pride and elation as this book has found renewed purpose. Today it speaks to more than a piqued group of concerned alternative thinkers; it speaks to a diverse population of women and mothers who are curious about taking control of their health, their bodies, and their pregnancies. The face of wellness has changed since this book was first published, and there is now welcomed emphasis on natural treatments, herbal medicine, and integrative support. It is a pleasure to share this book—one of the original voices in the world of natural health for mommas—with you. The wisdom and information within it stands the test of time.
Excerpted from The Natural Pregnancy Book, Third Edition by Aviva Jill Romm, Foreword by Ina May Gaskin. Copyright © 2014 by Aviva Jill Romm, Foreword by Ina May Gaskin. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.