Book of the Month

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May 2001:

" pregnancy and birth: in support of autonomy"

by WHIC,Womens Health Information Collective, Glasgow, distributed via AK Press and printed by Clydeside Press, for the price of £3,00, ca.170 pages

This is a collction of articles contibutd by various women on the aspect of birth, but focussing mainly on the mother and her feelings and problems, not so much on the baby. It gives self- experienced advice on nutrition, herbs, aromatherapy, homeopathy, shiatsu, alexander technique, homebirth, breastfeeding, vaginal birth after caesarean, and breathing, movement and optimal fetal positioning. The second part of the book is a collectionof birth stories and how they wanted it to happen, their plans and how it actually went.

The book actually expresses in various chapters the intention to reclaim the responsibility and the autonomy of mothers back from the medics. This book is a collection on various womens' experiences, and quite appreciated by the readers, although some of the information given, might arouse some suspicion and doubts in the reader, like e.g. the chapter on vaccination. The book gives adresses and contacts for further information, and gives the warning right at the beginning, that a book in isolation has its limits.

Overall the book is quite challenging from the average "birth books" as it is written from experienced persons, trying to look for alternatives and further possibilities in the present medical system for what's suiting the women best and giving their valuable experience away for the benefits of other pregnant women. The cost of the book is low and it is affordable, the style is comprehensive and understandable and varies from chapter to chapter, but getting away from the often experienced style of "ordering the reader around telling them what to do in an arrogant, superior manner" advisory books often have. You fell quite comfortable whilst reading it, its like meeting friends and having a cup of tea and a nice chat with them.


July 2001:

"(un)comfortably numb - a prison requiem"

by Maureen Maguire, Luath Press Limited, Edinburgh, price £ 8.99, get via WordPower or directly from Luath Press, ca 235 pages

The book is divided into different parts, giving an short overview about the life of each of the eight women committing suicide in Cornton Vale from june 95 to july 98. The book concentrates then on the life of Yvonne Gilmour, who committed suicide on Christmas Eve in 96. The book is based on the inquiries in terms of the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Death Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976 Section 6 (I) (c) and therefore based on the questionings of inmates, prison authorities, psychologists, medics, social and drug workers, and family members. The books examines the circumstances of the prison environment in Cornton Vale in general. Only 1% are convicted for violent crimes, two thirds of the inmates are between the ages of sixteen and thirty, 20 % under 21, and about 70% have at least one child, and almost 90% of women in Cornton Vale have some experience of illicit drug use, with heroin the main drug of choice. The book describes Yvonnes difficult childhood, a chaotic adolescence and drug addiction and her struggle to get off the drugs and to life and death behind bars. It therefore implies strong doubts on how our society deals with drugs, drug users and "rehabilitation programmes", with single mothers , single fathers and their need for sufficient benefits and help, it implies strong doubts on the methadone programme and on drug withdrawal programs.

The book describes quite good on how and why girls turn to drugs, and the problems of "rehabilitation" and of "drug withdrawal programs" as well as their life in general, and the problems which arise in their family and in prison. It is also a sad story about our society, having nothing better to do, than putting these vulnerable girls in prison.

"People may think I've taken the easy way out but please believe me this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do." Yvonne Gilmour