Book Review: BirthTouch® Healing for Parents in the NICU by Kathy Morelli, LPC

I have had my first book review opportunity, so you get a bonus blog post this week.  In the meantime, Mid-Week Balance is shaping up nicely for Wednesday, and on Friday I’ll be back to the Health Stigma and Healthy Privilege series.

Kathy Morelli is a colleague of mine.  Her specialty focus in perinatal and postpartum mental health overlaps closely with my focus on the intersection of physical and mental health, so I have been a regular reader of her blog for several years.  I admire her passion as an advocate for better maternal health before and after birth.  I have also had family members experience the challenge and stress of having a child in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).  So, when I got a chance to review Kathy’s pocket handbook, BirthTouch® Healing for Parents in the NICU, I was thrilled to do so.

Kathy is very clear upfront that the BirthTouch® techniques she presents are intended as a complementary self-care resource for couples, not as a substitution for appropriate medical and mental health care.

As I read through the book, I found myself nodding and noting things that I would like to share with others.  There were several things that I particularly liked:

  • Length: Kathy’s book begins with the acknowledgement that having a child in the NICU can put incredible strain on a family.  This book is short, so that couples who are already under stress don’t have to struggle to find helpful tools in a sea of text.
  • Normalization of challenge: Kathy acknowledges that having a child in the NICU can bring up difficult emotions in families. She talks about feelings of anger, frustration, and hopelessness.  Each step in the book is intended to bridge those difficult emotions with the power of touch, language, and intention.  Kathy offers couples tools that will help them reconnect in a time when they might be pushed apart.
  • Recognition that pain is expressed on multiple levels. In Healing for Parents, Kathy reminds readers that in relationships, our words matter, our behaviors matter, and our intentions matter.  With some easily read suggestions, Kathy offers couples tools that can help them break negative cycles of communication.
  • The seated Shiatsu technique: A large chunk of the book is focused on guiding couples through a seated Shaitsu massage technique, so that they can reconnect physically and emotionally.  This section of the book pairs photo illustrations, text instructions, and reminders to include intention and connection throughout the practice.  The practice looks like it feels fantastic–I’m planning on trying it at home.
  • Clear, accessible language: In this time when there is greater and greater focus on health literacy, I appreciate that Kathy’s book is written in clear, accessible terms.  You don’t need to be a mental health expert of medical provider to benefit from this book.

All in all, reading this book make me even prouder to count Kathy as one of my “team” in mental health advocacy.  I would recommend it for couples, but also for staff in NICU and other critical care units.  It feels like the suggestions could be generalized to other families facing trauma.


Disclosure: I did receive a complimentary Kindle copy of the book to facilitate this review.  That did not influence my opinions or my review.

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