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Reviewed Publisher: 
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 560 pages. ISBN 0-618-13873-0
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Publication Date: 
March, 2004
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Elizabeth Noble has inspired me for a quarter of a century. Her revision of the classic HAVING TWINS informs how thoroughly the "Birth Machine" has infiltrated childbirth. The cradle is still being rocked by society's hand, but nowadays it a mechanical one-cold, steel, electronic, and expensive. In multiple births, everything is multipliedthe anticipation, the fear, the costs, and possible damage to the psychological integrity of the family unit when treated as "high risk." Maintaining connection with one baby already is tricky enough, in our individualistic culture, yet to deal with the projections of being abnormal and at higher risk by having a multiple pregnancy makes it all the more challenging.

My twins were born almost 30 years ago. During active labor, I was measured, sonogrammed, x-rayed, and then told I would need a cesarean. So I checked myself out of the hospital, went home, and gave natural, ecstatic birth to my twin daughters. (Read the full story in Prenatal Yoga and Natural Childbirth, reviewed in JOPPPAH 16(4) 2002.) Nowadays this would be much less likely to occur. In the last quarter of a century, there have been legal judgments upon mothers to undergo cesarean surgeries if medically indicated (meaning doctors order it).

As a mother of six children including twins, I know that it is easier to give natural birth to two babies (double the endorphins) than one and that the "higher risk" involved depends on who attends the birth, if they know that twins will be born, and if they have been medically "educated" to deny our mammalian intelligence.

The chapter on breastfeeding multiples is a must-read for any mother of twins, too. Thirteen pages are devoted to nursing, whereas only eight pages discuss breast alternatives (a.k.a. bottle feeding and other supplemental foods). The photos are particularly beautiful and share a variety of breastfeeding poses, so needed in postmodern society where the wallpaper of our lives displays isolation and otherwise promotes the products needed to sustain consumer culture and separation. Noble shows healthy ways to tend to the psychological needs of twins by tandem and extended nursing. This builds subjectsubject relationships from the beginning-even more vital for families with multiple babies, where a tendency to objectify is already exacerbated by sheer exhaustion in meeting the needs of multiple neonates.

It is refreshing to read a guidebook that is a vast exploration beyond the prevailing myths about multiple births. I like Noble's free-range genius that presents evidence-based data, stories, ideas, and an invitation to think outside of fear (and the complicity it engenders in parents of multiples).

For members of APPPAH, Noble's book is requisite reading, to expand your knowledge of the medicalization of multiple birth and the myth of the "normal." HAVING TWINS has courage. The author takes the reader to the primal core. Rather than viewed as medical emergencies waiting to happen, by this education twin babies can be gently welcomed with love from before birth.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for a wonderful contribution to the growing childbirth wisdom library. The hand that rocks the "Birth Machine" frees the world, and HAVING TWINS doubly rocks!