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Comprehensive Advice Covers Conception to Childbirth

November 06, 1986|ROSELLE M. LEWIS

The Well Pregnancy Book by Mike Samuels MD and Nancy Samuels (Summit: $21.95).

Medium and message seem to converge in this hefty tome that weighs just slightly less than the neonate it describes. But what "The Well Pregnancy Book" lacks in portability, it more than makes up in its comprehensive coverage of having a baby, which the husband-and-wife authors view as an "act of commitment, courage and optimism about life."

Moving from conception through fetal development to birth itself, the Samuelses devote chapters to good nutrition and its negative corollaries, showing how poor food, chemicals and drugs can cause low birth weight or deformities in the infant.

Evolution has created the "3-million-year-old mother," ideally suited for bearing children; with the emphasis on natural childbirth, most women expect a "magical delivery" without medical intervention--though rather often, the Samuelses point out, this proves unrealistic. While childbirth, accompanied by a number of technological aids, is no longer considered a descent into the "valley of the shadow of death," as it once was described, the authors admit it can be "a bit scary, like going without plans on a trip to a place you've never been before."

Devoting five well-detailed chapters to the physical and emotional aspects of delivery per se, the authors cover new methods (the lithotomy position of lying on one's back is being superseded by the more comfortable dorsal, or semi-sitting, position); they discuss home versus hospital delivery, the emerging role of the midwife, plus bonding and breast-feeding. Their ample book, beautifully illustrated with reproductions of art works on mother-child themes, would seem to be the last word on this subject.

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