The Natural Pregnancy Book: Herbs, Nutrition, and Other Holistic Choices by Aviva Jill Romm. Berkeley, California: Celestial Arts, 2003. 318 pp. soft-cover. ISBN: 1-58761-178-3. $16.95.
Choice is a key word when describing this book. Aviva Romm, an expert in natural childbirth, presents an array of choices related to the many aspects of childbirth. Romm reminds the reader of her choices and empowers her to think about what is right for herself and her baby. The author shares her belief that pregnancy is a natural process of which womens bodies are perfectly capable, and that pregnancy is a process of initiation and growth into a value system that respects and honors womens creative powers. This belief is neatly woven within the words and ideas presented in this book. Romms words encourage women to explore all parts of themselves and the process of childbirth. The author is able to write from both personal experience as a pregnant woman and from the perspective of a midwife and herbalist, truly giving the topic a holistic view.
This book is divided into two parts. Part I covers pregnancy education for the general population of women interested in natural childbirth. It addresses a pregnant womans needs from each aspect of childbearing, starting with brief chapters on history and philosophy, body image, the mind-body connection, basic pregnancy anatomy and fetal growth, basic prenatal care, and options for choosing a provider. Also included is a section on nutrition with an informative review of the nutritional needs for pregnancy, ways to assess a diet, and an easy to follow sample diet for the pregnant woman. The chapter on exercise and posture recommends a daily exercise routine that is not overwhelming and provides illustrations for each exercise. Part I ends with a short chapter by the authors husband, Tracy Romm, who has contributed a wonderfully insightful view on becoming a father, speaking on the need to cultivate the nurturing qualities and grow with the pregnancy. He shares some valuable points on the partners role and participation in the pregnancy, birth, and childrearing.
Part II of this book could be described as an herbal guide for common pregnancy issues. Once again the author reminds the reader of the fact that pregnancy is a normal process and that there are physiological changes that accompany pregnancy which may cause uncomfortable symptoms. Alphabetically arranged for easy reference, each topic is explained in a clear and accurate manner that includes informative dietary tips and safe, effective herbal recommendations, many of which Romm has used clinically in her practice. It is refreshing to find a book that shares real information on using herbs for natural pregnancy care instead of a list of herbs passed down and copied with the recommendation to avoid them during pregnancy. Romms clinical expertise in this area is clearly evident. She provides many remedies and formulas that employ a wide range of herbal medicines and some unique clinical practices. The information found in Part II is valuable for all herbalists, physicians, and students of botanical medicines, both as a reference and educational resource.
A resource section at the end of the book provides an extensive list of contact information for organizations and resources that address midwifery or doula care, herbal education, herbal medicinal products, journals, childbirth education, and natural alternative therapies.
Presenting so much information in a manner that is easy and enjoyable to read is quite a task. Romm has not only accomplished this task, she has done it with an empowering, supportive voice. I highly recommended this book as a resource or reference for all who are involved in the care of pregnant women, including parents to be and students of herbal medicine.
Mary Bove ND, MW, AHG