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Customer Review

110 of 123 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not great not horrible, October 17, 2001
This review is from: Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood (Hardcover)
This book has some good aspects but feels like it needed more research or more time in introspection. Sure it is great to have a well known respected feminist writer say the things that Suzanne Arms, Ina May Gaskin, Sheila Kitzinger, etc. have all said before(and somewhat better in my opinion) and women will pick up this book, because it is Naomi Wolf, that wouldn't otherwise buy a book about birth and mothering. That is all to the good!
I see strengths in the chapters describing the truly typical dismissive prenatal care most OBs give (I say this as an experienced childbirth educator/labor support person/mother of twins - the dreaded "high risk" pregnancy that wasn't). It clearly says that there is no basis in fact or simple human decency in such a birth culture. The Post Partum Depression chapter is worth the price of the book. Honesty on that topic is often lacking! I actually liked the stories about women trying to negotiate changing marital relationships. Some have found them whiny, but they sound like some of my girlfriends conversations and rang true to me. I think she is overly pessimistic. Some of us find a good balance with our mates and are truly happy(rather than resigned) with the results.
It is true that a sense of entitlement doesn't render this a truly representative book. Where are the Latino, African-American and immigrant birth experiences. If she thinks hers was bad, she has no idea how truly bad it can get! I once consoled a sobbing 19 year old at a health fair, who told me how her nurse and OB literally yelled, "shut up!" to her repeatedly when she asked questions during her birth. I was horrified at Wolf's indefensible comments on LaLecheLeague. I want to know what meeting she went to (I suspect she actually didn't go to one). I belong to the DC chapter and she had her first child when she lived/worked in DC and I tell you that we have never been "lactation facists" or unrealistic "milk missionaries" to the women who choose to come to our meetings.
The biggest problem I have with the book is her chapter on the "naturalists". She tells women that hospital courses are not adequate or honest (true) but does not tell women that there are literally thousands of independent childbirth education classes held in homes, community centers and yoga studios that do provide the information she seemed unable to locate before her traumatic first birth. Women can seek a Bradley Method (disclosure-I teach Bradley), Birthing From Within, Birthworks, or other natural childbirth class to get balanced viewpoints and better yet - referral lists of wonderful midwives and the (sadly too few and far between) supportive respectful OBs and hospitals. Just about all my OB-employing students switch to *independent* midwives (Joint OB/midwife practices can be a dicey form of window dressing that hides an uncomfortable birth reality. Be sure to ask if the midwives actually catch and how often.) midway through my 12 week class (that's right a weekender B&B cram session is not going to be enough because you need committment, education and time to navigate our scary birth culture in a way that suits your needs)
My final disappointment was that as a feminist she did not even touch on the fact that women are taking control/stepping out of the abusive system by engaging independent certified nurse midwives, lay midwives(professional, apprentice trained homebirth specialists legal in 17 states and deserving of legality in all others!!!!), having homebirths and even choosing unassisted births in ever increasing numbers. There is a womanist mothers' movement that is alive and well and she and her feminist-success-story (admittedly) privileged friends could have availed themselves of it had they dug a little deeper. This book was worth reading but, go read Immaculate Deception II, Spiritual Midwifery, The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth and the website as well!
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