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Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care Hardcover – June 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to writer and editor Block (Our Bodies, Ourselves), "the United States has the most intense and widespread medical management of birth" in the world, and yet "ranks near the bottom among industrialized countries in maternal and infant mortality." Block shows how, in transforming childbirth into a business, hospitals have turned "procedures and devices developed for the treatment of abnormality" into routine practice, performed for no reason than "speeding up and ordering an unpredictable...process"; for instance, the U.S. cesarean section rate tripled in the 1970s, and has doubled since then. Block looks into a growing contingent of parents-to-be exploring alternatives to the hospital-and the attendant likelihood of medical intervention-by seeking out birthing centers and options for home-birth. Unfortunately, obstacles to these alternatives remain considerable-laws across the U.S. criminalizing or severely restricting the practice of midwifery have led the trained care providers to practice underground in many states-while tort reform has done next to nothing to lower malpractice insurance rates or improve hospital birthing policies. This provocative, highly readable expose raises questions of great consequence for anyone planning to have a baby in U.S., as well as those interested or involved in women's health care.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"A gripping expose... Provocative and hotly controversial analysis of a side of reproductive rights feminism seems to have forgot." -- Kirkus Reviews, (Starred Review) 5/15/07

"A stirring discussion of reproductive rights, informed consent, and the rights of the mother vs. the fetus... Recommended." -- Library Journal, 5/15/07

"The book is loaded with interviews, statistics and...some quietly deft storytelling." -- Chicago Reader, 6/29/07

"This is a worthwhile book for anyone who cares about reforming our health-care system--right from the start." -- Kansas City Star, 10/02/07

"[Block] really gets that maternity care is a woman's issue that all people should care about, not just mothers, and she has no agenda through a birth experience or professional work in maternity care. Pushed shines a spotlight on maternity care and asks important questions about the standard practices in America." -- BOLD Book Club, October 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books; 1st. Da Capo Press Ed edition (June 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738210730
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738210735
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #631,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

If anyone is considering reading this book, please, PLEASE read it.
S. K.
This book gives a highly documented and throughly examined perspective of the current state of average American maternity care.
A. Shaw
So, this book helped me choose a doctor that understands that I want a "home birth" in a hospital.
K. Schwegel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

430 of 437 people found the following review helpful By Dana R on September 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Exactly 3 years ago I walked into one of the finest maternity hospitals in NJ to deliver my first baby. I was low risk - under 30, no complications - and was expected to have a smooth delivery.

11 hours later I was laying in a bed by myself staring at a ceiling, completely shell shocked, and without my baby, husband or family, I was immobilized in a recovery room with a gaping wound in my belly while my new daughter was off in the nursery. I had no idea what went wrong. It seemed that I had simply stopped dilating or "failed to progress."

As I read Jennifer Block's book, I just nodded as it all became very clear - the insistence by the staff that we would just hurry things up a little by performing an amniotomy (breaking my water) when I was still in early labor. That was followed by pitocin (to "really" get things moving), stadol (a narcotic pain reliever), an epidural and finally, a c-section. My labor was simply one of many completely over-managed and over controlled labors in American hospitals. They finally decided that a c-section was the only way to end my labor. I was lead to believe my labor was a "problem" and a "complication" and surgery was the only answer.

I wish this book could become mandatory reading for all women who are planning a hospital delivery. Contrary to recent reports (as discussed in this book), very few women are actually requesting a c-section on a completely voluntary basis. Years ago I was "pushed" by the obstetrical community into an unwanted delivery experience.

Today I am pregnant with my second child. And I am pushing back.
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88 of 90 people found the following review helpful By mona on July 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Not only was this an amazing book packed full of easy-to-understand statistics and little-known information on what hospital birth is like in the US, but it is an absolute page-turner with plenty of gripping real-life stories from all types of people (physicians, nurses, midwives, mothers, lawyers, activists, etc.) with experience in this system.

I used to have a vague idea, before this book, of some of the interventions I would absolutely not allow if I were to give birth in a hospital, but since reading this book and doing some additional research (via other books and internet) my eyes have really been opened. I could never watch TLC's "A Baby Story" the same way again!

I think this book is a must-read for any woman contemplating childbirth. It is such a shame that SO FEW women know that there are options OUTSIDE of the hospital, and that they don't have to be forced by physicians to submit to procedures and interventions (e.g., episiotomies, continuous fetal monitors, cesareans) to which they DO NOT consent.

Read this book (and others) to prepare yourself.
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90 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Liberty on June 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This engaging journalistic expose was a real eye-opener, and a must-read not just for women, but for anyone considering becoming a parent, or really anyone concerned with the direction health care in the U.S. is headed. The cesarean rate in our country is over 30%, nearly three times that of some European countries. Are our bodies really that different? Somehow, I doubt it. Ms. Block explores the troubling trends that push doctors to perform often uncalled-for major abdominal surgery, and shows how this is harmful both to mothers and babies. With stylish, riveting prose, an exciting first-hand account of traveling "underground" with an illegal midwife, and tales from the operating table, Block skillfully takes stock of the current state of birth in America. Not to be missed.
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Ann Spencer on August 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Block's central thesis is this:

"What's best for women is best for babies. And what's best for women and babies is minimally invasive births that are physically, emotionally, and socially supported. This is not the experience that most women have. In the age of evidence-based medicine, women need to know that standard American maternity care is not primarily driven by their health and well-being or by the health and well-being of their babies. Care is constrained and determined by liability and financial concerns, by a provider's licensing regulations and malpractice insurer. The evidence often has nothing to do with it."

Block paints a depressingly grim picture of modern maternity care in which only a handful of women experience physiological childbirth. The rest give birth plugged into machines. Drugs and hormones course through their veins; scalpels and scissors cut them open, often after coercion and frequently despite the woman's expressed refusal. Almost everyone she interviews admits there's a problem, but no one seems to be able to change the system. Those who buck the system altogether--home birth midwives and unassisted birthers, for example--face legal harassment, imprisonment, fines, or loss of custody of their children.
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