Book Review: “Ancient Map For Modern Birth”

This book is not quite like all the other books. Pam England’s “Ancient Map For Modern Birth” promises a tall order: an “ancient universal map.” The map laid out by Pam England is one that speaks of heroism while facing the unknowns brought to us by the timeless rites of passage duo: birth and parenthood.  

I realize the tagline itself, “Preparation, Passage, and Personal Growth for Your Childbearing Year” might even seem a bit intimidating in its ambition for many pregnant folks whose primary concern is, I just want the baby to come out of my vagina and I can’t even with the thought of personal growth right now! But I urge you not to sell yourself short.

If you’re not a typical kind of person (no judgment on anyone identifying as “typical”), you deserve something other than a typical childbirth book. Perhaps you’re seeking a reflection of birth as a journey that impacts the rest of your life rather than just gifting us with “a very special day.” Maybe you’re deeply fascinated by the potential of your birthing years to radically transform everything you’ve known about yourself up to this point — or to strengthen a belief in the long-suspected powers you hold within. Is this you? 

Looking into clinical topics, routine procedures, labor hormones, birth plans… to me at least, that sure feels safe and easy and like I’d be doing my due diligence in preparing for this event. Unfortunately, I know both from personal experience and from observations in my work as a doula and birthkeeper that merely skimming the surface is unlikely to produce the reinvention of self we know nature intended for the unmatchable experience of birthing. Is practical information important — yes, and you will get that here… But perhaps more important, in the shadow of the oft-celebrated spotlight of aiming for “the technically perfect birth,” is achieving acceptance of the spiritually-motivated story written for us.

I don’t believe every person is ready to contend with, and embrace, the series of personal landscape shifts that follow (and that’s okay). Like tectonic plates moving without much warning, our foundation shakes and everything around us seems to buckle and collapse, but then we realize it was all us, all along. It’s the willingness to face this realization that can make all the difference in whether the torch lighting our way burns out, saving its energy for another day, or changes position to enable us better clarity moving forward. Again… is this you?

Maybe you’re already aware birth is not a journey that begins with conception and ends with a wet, slippery, crying newborn hoisted into your arms for the first time. Still, if you choose to tuck into this book for a while, you’ll learn how the path is and was longer and wider and far more dynamic than even you could’ve possibly dreamed.

If you love this book and want to explore more of Pam England’s work, I highly recommend the popularly beloved “Birthing From Within” which includes a variety of activities, prompts, and tools for connecting with your sense of creativity and intuition.

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