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From The CriticsReviewer: Beverley Zinn, MSN, CNM (East Carolina University)
Description: This is a review of historical and societal attitudes toward pain and an extensive coverage of research related to pain alleviation.
Purpose: The author states in the preface that she wanted to write a book about pain because she thinks she is in a particularly strong position to do so. Not having had a child has made it possible for her to be unbiased in her research about pain in childbirth.
Audience: The intended audience is not identified. In the chapter on pharmacologic pain control, the author talks about the relevant issues for those involved in the use of each method, including the mother, the fetus/neonate, the midwife, and any others who make a contribution or are affected, but the topic is not presented in enough depth for this to serve as a professional reference. Additionally, there is not as much material on women's experiences as the preface leads one to expect.
Features: Using the framework of childbirth as a journey, the author covers historical and societal attitudes toward pain, purpose and history of childbirth education, mechanisms of pain, and methods of pain alleviation. She covers pain during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum as well as pain in the fetus/newborn. A broad review of literature supports the notion that pain has not been well researched and that professionals and society do not know how to approach pain. There is a lack of depth, so this book will not serve as a good reference, but if the purpose is there to raise awareness of pain and society's poor understanding, then this is not a shortcoming.
Assessment: There are many thought-provoking discussions of pain throughout the childbearing cycle. There may not be another text like this; it serves as a broad overview of pain and alleviation and it raises some interesting questions about how pain has been and is viewed and treated by society. For those who may not have previously thought about attitudes toward pain or the difference between perception and the outer manifestations of pain, it will raise awareness.