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Does not deserve to be America's #1 pregnancy book
on May 5, 2014
I just read this book cover to cover. No, seriously. And man, am I glad I was not pregnant at the time.
This is far from the first pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book I've ever read. I'm a health and research nut, and a librarian, so I do a lot of research and reading before I do anything. I try to consult a variety of sources from different viewpoints. Since this is the #1 most-recommended pregnancy book, I figured I might as well read this one too and see what all the fuss is about. I have yet to figure it out.
1) The main issue I have with this book is the clear lack of research that went into it. There are absolutely ZERO references in the entire book (and it is a beast of a book). The author's credentials also seem to be limited to a) she's a mom, and b) she is the author of this book. Yet she spouts "knowledge" and information like it's gospel. The forward is written by an esteemed OB/GYN, and I can see why he endorses the book, which I will point out below, but as for any type of verified medical or research-based advice, that is it. She tells you exactly what to do, but offers nothing in the way of an explanation about why you should do it. Oh, she says "Do this because . . . ." and "Studies show . . . " but gives no names or authors of those studies so that you can check it out for yourself. Maybe that works for some people, but not for me. I need more than the word of one woman who happened to have two children and write a book about it.
2) This book perpetuates (possibly unintentionally) an increasingly disturbing (and increasingly outdated) "medical management" view of pregnancy and childbirth. The author repeatedly tells you not to worry about your pregnancy, but goes on to list the MYRIAD ways something could very possibly go wrong if you don't exactly follow her advice. There's nothing wrong with being aware of the various pregnancy complications, but the tone of this book is very "Do absolutely everything your practitioner says and don't worry your pretty little head." Every single question is answered with "Ask your practitioner." There is a section near the beginning about making sure you have a practitioner whom you like and respect, but basically, as long as you find someone you're socially compatible with, that person's word is it. Especially during the childbirth section, she describes the various medical interventions as inevitable, doesn't discuss the reasons WHY such procedures are performed, doesn't cite studies about how effective or ineffective they are, doesn't mention or explain informed consent AT ALL (I mean, if your practitioner ordered it, don't ask questions, just go with it), and shows a strong bias for OB/GYNs, hospital births, C-sections (after all, almost one-third of women in the U.S. give birth that way -- don't you want to as well?), and all the pain-relief drugs you can get your (and your baby's, I might add) hands on. Again, there is nothing wrong with choosing an OB/GYN, a hospital birth, or pain-relief drugs -- but women deserve to have all of their options (and studies demonstrating the pros and cons thereof) laid out for them without scaring them into just doing everything their practitioner says. Again, I can see why the author of the forward endorses this book and it's routinely handed out at prenatal appointments: it begets compliant patients who don't ask questions. God forbid you be "difficult" when someone is just trying to help you have a healthy baby!
3) The lack of alternative viewpoints is astounding. Obviously every pregnancy/childbirth book has its own ideology, but for a book that claims to include everything you need to know about pregnancy and childbirth, it should not take a one-size-fits-all approach. So many women only ever read this book and aren't even aware that other philosophies (with actual research to back them up) exist.
Times are changing. More and more women want to take research- and evidence-based approaches to something as important as conceiving, carrying, and giving birth to their children. Blind faith in the medical profession is no longer the norm. This book is an outdated remnant of a dangerous and uninformed past --giving it to every pregnant woman just prolongs the torture (and those compliant patients everyone seems to want).