Monday, November 10, 2008

Book Review: "Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year"

"Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year"
Susan S. Weed
1985, 196 pages

I have been reading madly lately, trying to get through all of my books that I've injudiciously over-borrowed, while at the same time procrastinating on writing book reviews, with the end result that many of the books I've borrowed have been returned long-since, while the reviews have remained unwritten. I am going to try, over the next few weeks, to catch up with book reviews so that I can move on to more books and other writings. I want to focus on Arizona birth resources for Arizona mothers soon, and I can't get to any of that until I get these reviews done!

"Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year" is one book which had to be returned to the library almost a month ago, but it is still sitting in front of me. Why? Because it was one of those books which are so excellent that possession of them becomes an immediate and obsessive need! So when hubby said, "Hon, I need a book to put on this Amazon order to get to the free shipping amount," I knew which book to order!

This book is a keeper. It is so much of a keeper that I can't even tell you how much I liked it! Suffice it to say that I will recommend it unreservedly to all and sundry I meet. It is truly excellent.

I have been getting into amateur herbalism lately, and finding reliable information about herbs in pregnancy literature can be downright frustrating. For example, a pregnancy book (even a naturally-minded one!) might say, "For morning sickness, take dandelion." Well, great. Do you mean fresh herb, dried herb, tea, infusion, decoction, fresh herb tincture, dried herb tincture, oil, salve, or compress? How often should I take it? What strength? How should I take it? How much at a time? This book is one of the few books that explicitly gives dosage directions. For example, "Ten to twenty drops of Witch Hazel tincture under the tongue can be used repeatedly to control bleeding until the placenta is delivered." (p. 71) It's terrific!!

The book is arranged in chapters by time period (pre-conception, pregnancy, labor/birth, postpartum, baby), with a great chapter on making your own herbal products and several helpful appendices. Within the chapter, various complaints and conditions (hemorrhage, cramps, etc.) are listed alphabetically for easy access.

Another thing I love about this book is that for each condition, there is a section on "prevention" as well as a section on "what to do if you have this condition." That is just terrific! I love to be proactive. For example, with my delivery I had horrendous after-pains, something which is supposed to be negligible or non-existent for primips. Since they generally increase in intensity with each pregnancy, I know that I can expect them with any future pregnancies, and now I have the preventative advice of this book to help me prevent afterpains with pre-birth herbs. Hurray!!

There is one chapter in this book which I found very disappointing, but I won't elaborate further. On the whole, this book receives my complete applause and approval.

When I told my midwife that I was reading this book, she told me that she keeps multiple copies both at her home and at her office because it is so vital to her practice.

This book is indispensable, and I love it! Highly recommended.

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