I was privileged to read and review Kate Evans’ book “Bump: how to make, grow and birth a baby”. The author describes it as “a choose-your-own adventure comic mash-up of choices and options in fertility, pregnancy and birth” and it is certainly that.
I love this book. I want to have this book’s babies. Irreverent and visceral, evidence based and sensitive, like chatting easily with a knowledgeable friend yet well referenced, this is the book to buy your still childless younger sister, or for the newly pregnant friend you don’t think would be quite receptive to Ina May just yet. (You can follow up with a suggestion for Ina May et al once she tells you how much she loved “Bump”.) The book is peppered with wonderful cartoons, mostly laugh-out-loud funny, some hauntingly beautiful. “Bump” covers the gamut of fertility and birth issues, through pre-conception, trying, not trying, early to late pregnancy, preparing for baby, a comprehensive look at birth options, birth rights, and very sensitively written chapters on abortion and adoption and caesarean birth. “Bump” manages to find the perfect balance between being non-judgemental and giving comprehensive evidence for, for instance, low intervention in birth and continuous care. (This would be an excellent book to leave around for a partner doubting the evidence around and reasons for home birth.) The book wins points for its casual inclusiveness of all racial and sexual identities with understated depiction of more birthing families other than the usual white middle aged heterosexual “mom and dad” throughout. The author also – to my delight – has a definite feminist voice (and apologises in the foreword for mostly ignoring the experience of men, both cis- and trans- gendered). Chapter 15, “Crossing the sea” is nothing short of amazing. I would love to see this chapter as a pull out frieze for women to reference whilst in early labour. “Steady yourself. Be private. Be calm. Eat, if you can. If you can sleep, sleep. If you can’t, doze. You have an ocean to cross. You will need your strength”.
This chapter is a wonderful harmony of information and affirmation.
My only issue is with the “whingy bingo” chapter. It’s important to be given information about the many ailments that can beset you in pregnancy, and this chapter does a good job of that. However, I was nagged by a feeling that the chapter is slightly too comprehensive – there’s enough info that a first time mother might think it’s all she needs, when very few of the sections are exhaustive. I would hope a second edition might include a statement to the effect that there are lots of options for the common pregnancy complaints and that the information in that chapter could be used as a starting point for more research. This is however a very minor gripe and there is
a disclaimer at the start of the references (at the end of the book) that “this book doesn’t have all the answers, but it might inspire you to further research”. In conclusion, the highly visual nature of “Bump”, the accessibility of the language, and the balance she finds mean this is a book I would unreservedly recommend to anybody. I guffawed out loud and shed a tear while reading it, and I’ll be buying a couple of extra copies for gifting and loaning. You can read an excerpt on the author’s website here: http://www.thefoodoflove.org/bump-preview/