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The Business of Baby: What Doctors Don't Tell You, What Corporations Try to Sell You, and How to Put Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Before Their Bottom Line Hardcover – April 16, 2013

114 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Readers who are skeptical about mainstream medicine will love this book. Margulis, a journalist with a PhD in English and four children, begins her story with some scary-sounding facts: Every year more than 700 U.S. women die in childbirth, more than 25,000 of 4.3 million U.S. babies born each year will die before they turn one, and eight out of 1,000 U.S. infants will not live to age five. Margulis raises many valid questions: Why do more than 1.4 million U.S. women each year give birth via cesarean section? Why do U.S. dads often get no time off from work after the birth of a baby when fathers in Norway get 12 weeks of parental leave at full pay? She also asks whether doctors make too many of their decisions based on the profit motive. Unfortunately, she may unnecessarily alarm some pregnant moms about everything from vaccines (she particularly dislikes giving the hepatitis B immunizationto newborns) to ultrasounds (she cites a hypothesis that they may trigger autism). It’s not a balanced book, but it is a thought-provoking one that will motivate women to ask why before blindly agreeing to everything their doctor orders. --Karen Springen

Review

“Pregnancy and childbirth are wildly vulnerable times, and one is desperate to put one's faith in the doctor. Jennifer Margulis reveals why that trust is sometimes misplaced, and helps us to make wise choices when the stakes are high. This is a must-read book for parents and parents-to-be,and for the medical professionals who care for us.” (Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. author of The Dance of Anger and Marriage Rules)

"A new mother's first instinct is to protect her newborn. But how can she best do that in a consumer culture so focused on its bottom line? The Business of Baby exposes some hard and shocking facts about how even the most well-meaning American parents unwittingly buy into systems that do documented harm. Thought-provoking and exhaustively researched, this book is destined to inspire much-needed dialogue about the current American way of birthing and caring for our young." (Hope Edelman bestselling author of Motherless Daughters)

“Jennifer Margulis's searing and well-researched exposé is a must-read for expectant mothers. Whether she is discussing common obstetric practices, circumcision, vaccination, breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, diapering, or choosing a pediatrician, she points the way to rational, health-based decision-making.” (Ina May Gaskin)

“Worthyof close consideration by parents.” (Kirkus)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (April 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451636083
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451636086
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #758,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

445 of 621 people found the following review helpful By Alexis Coxon VINE VOICE on May 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
There is a great need for an incisive look at all sides of modern maternity care in the United States, because -- let's face it -- we all know it's not perfect. This, however, is not that book.

While Margulis' book is touted as "an eye-opening work of investigative journalism" and based on "meticulous research," the fact is, it's just another book advocating natural childbirth and demonizing doctors and hospitals. If that's what you're looking for, have at it, but don't read this expecting an objective look of any sort. Margulis was the subject of several stories about her unattended childbirth (with no midwife or OB present), which already puts her at the fringe of the natural birth movement. Her husband, James Di Properzio, is on the Oregon Board of Direct Entry Midwifery.

Among disturbing and/or bizarre things I noted, just in the first chapter:

* Margulis lists "scary-sounding" ingredients in prenatal vitamins, then fails to actually investigate whether or not they're safe. One, for example, is sodium benzoate -- a very widely used food preservative.

* In a list of facts and figures, Margulis adds up the cost of a nine-month supply of prenatal vitamins and then compares it to the cost of ONE bunch of kale. (Does it follow that one bunch of kale will provide all needed nutrition for nine months? Because one nutrition database I checked shows one cup of kale provides a mere 5 percent of the RDA for folate.)

* Margulis calls the glucose test (basically, drinking an overly sweet beverage and then getting your blood drawn) "one of the most unpleasant prenatal tests." Really? I mean, if that's her view of a syrupy drink, stubbing her toe must seem positively apocalyptic.
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30 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Ed Battistella on July 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jennifer Margulis's The Business of Baby is an interesting, complicated and ambitious critique of the US heathcare system touching on everything from vitamins to C-sections, circumcision, ultrasounds, breastfeeding, vaccine schedules, and diapers. The author is an advocate of natural birth and parenting, and the exposition blends passionate advocacy with dogged investigation (62 pages of footnotes). The research is impressive, both in terms of the work reviewed and the interviews from dozens of practitioners. Still, this will be a frustrating book for some MDs, who may feel defensive. It will be a frustrating book for some parents too, who may feel their choices are criticized. There are few heroes and a lot of sad stories.

Does the book have a position? Yes, it's investigation plus advocacy. The goal is to provoke readers to challenge the status quo. Does the author attempt too much? Maybe (note the length of the subtitle), but that's the risk of a big, ambitious project like this, and a risk worth taking. I came away convinced that the healthcare system for mothers and newborns is not doing its job and wanting to know more about each of the topics, many of which I had not given much thought to in the past.

The book has provoked strong reactions, including an attempted shout-down from the New York Times.

My advice: read the book. And ask yourself these questions--what sources are cited, whose stories are told, what experts are quoted, what perspectives are explored? I found plenty of medical evidence and MDs and other health care professionals interviewed. For example, in a four-page stretch at the beginning of chapter, there are 32 notes, including many to such sources as the British Medical Journal, Obstetrics & Gynecology, JAMA, the Journal of Perinatal Education, and more. It's a book to be read with an open mind and a pen in your hand, not flipped through at the beach or dismissed because it make you uncomfortable.
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20 of 28 people found the following review helpful By bluesky13 on October 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I was surprised and impressed by the level of detail this author tackled some very tough issues. It was well written, informative and grounded in thorough research, peer reviewed studies and professional interviews. The author covers many topics including midwifery care, breastfeeding, intact babies, non-medicinal ultrasounds, delayed vaccination schedules and many more topics. The author follows the money to expose the motivation behind some mainstream policies. I found the book powerful, succinct and educational.
I read many negative reviews on this book before buying it. None of the critiques addressed this fact: The US lags behind 30 developed countries for mother's well-being. Women in America are seven times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than a woman in Ireland. Fifteen times more likely than a woman in Greece. Jennifer Margulis does indeed address this fact as well as pressing concerns about US baby wellness. If you challenge the stance that over 32% of women's bodies are broken and require a Caesarean section, you will find this book insightful and provocative. Concerned about the US ranking highest in premature birth rates - 500,000 per year? Concerned about children wearing diapers until they are 5? This investigative reporter unravels these issues and more.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Laura Arnold on January 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Bottom line with this book: Whether you like what Margulis says or not, no one seems to be able to give useful explanations as to why in US there are terrible maternal and infant mortality rates, increasing rates of autism, and a huge decrease in breastfeeding (which has been proved time and again to be more beneficial to children than formula), among other disturbing trends. There is so much that we do not yet know about the entire process from conception to birth and beyond, so rather than pour scorn on someone who offers thoughtful alternatives to the mainstream medical decisions that are being made for us, I suggest every mother read this book and make more informed decisions about their children's well-being.
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