There are several books I’ve been meaning to review on this blog, but I’m only just now getting around to it. I have so many herbalism resource books that I adore—the pages full of fingerprints, hand-written notes, earmarks, bookmarks. But they are wonderful reference books—not as apt to be read, shall we say, recreationally? For excellent herbal resource texts (as well as some durn fine reads), I’ll refer you to the bibliography.
The Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Jill Romm is exceptional. It is the book that happily fills the gap between What to Expect When You’re Expecting and the work of Ina May Gaskin. Romm’s writing is at once warm and practical, providing an appropriate blend of succinct information on the experience of pregnancy balanced with a buoying tone of empathy and sisterly sharing. A midwife and herbalist herself, Aviva Romm also encourages women and their partners to take ownership of their journey, educating themselves about the various options and decisions of which they may not even be aware.
As you can see from the picture, my copy is filled with tabs marking wonderful herbal therapies and preparations, but this is not just a book for herbalists. This may be one of my favorite aspects of the book. Many women feel great creative urges when pregnant, and the self-care tips and the herbal preparations and the myriad suggestions for connecting and being present throughout the journey of pregnancy, all of these provide a welcome outlet to the mother and her partner. They are intended for use by pregnant women, any pregnant woman, as one more sacrament for nourishing and building connection.
The explanations of symptoms, the different trimesters, the birth process, and issues that may arise, are all described with candor, but do not bludgeon nor (pardon the pun) belabor the point—there is no fearmongering here. Issues such as miscarriage and breech birth, as well as morning sickness or swollen feet, are dealt with in such a manner that the woman has knowledge to be aware of herself and the power to chart her own course. It is not harped on till it terrifies her, as some pregnancy books seem to do.
The great message of The Natural Pregnancy Book is to impart such knowledge and resources and encouragement to the woman or the couple to take it into their own hands, make their own path, and be involved; that pregnancy isn’t just something that happens to you—it is something you participate in.