Many books about prenatal care and birth are sentimental and cloying,filled with clichés the miracle of life and the wonder of caring for a newbaby. Not so Allison England's remarkably sensitive and useful guide toaromatherapy and massage for pregnant women and new mothers. Englandprovides a comprehensive analysis of essential oils, massage andaromatherapy baths, never claiming that her caring techniques will work miracles but still making a strong case that they can help ease thephysical and emotional strain of becoming a mother.

The book is also distinguished by England's realistic description ofthe emotional ups and downs of pregnancy. The sanp-shots of the womenwho have sought help from England--some who are thrilled to be pregnant,others who want to use essential oils instead of painkilling drugs inlabor, and those who are deeply ambivalent about their pregnancies ordepressed after birth--offer a reminder of the immensecomplexities involved in giving birth. WhenEngland writes, "Pregnancy is one time in a woman's life when she needn'tfeel guilty about occasionally indulging herself," one can't help but give thanks for her gentle understanding that many women might have mixedfeelings about doing exactly that. Forget about the lavender oil; thiskind of sympathy is the best therapy of all.