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Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood Paperback – May 6, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Steingraber (Living Downstream) offers the commonest of stories how she got pregnant, gave birth and fed her baby in a most uncommon way. A cross between the quirkily thorough detail of Natalie Angier's science-writing and the passionate environmental advocacy of Rachel Carson, Steingraber's style would have been insufferably heroic if the pregnancy had been smooth, mind-over-matter. Instead, it's one long tale of everywoman's worst moments from the urge-to-pee problem to the terrible nausea of morning sickness followed by "round ligament pain" (these are "the bungee cords that anchor the uterus in place"), Braxton-Hicks contractions (which "rehearse the body for labor") and the general nuttiness of each trimester of pregnancy. Readers can identify with being ideologically opposed to, say, episiotomies, but then agreeing to one under the duress of childbirth. The climax, however, is not her daughter Faith's birth, but the dilemma over the safety of breastfeeding. The medical benefits of breast milk are compelling: it provides excellent nutrition and important immunities. But with rising environmental pollution, biomagnification implies that deadly toxins like DDT and dioxin will concentrate in human milk, the top of the food chain. The only answer: fight this pollution and make the world safer for nursing babies. With humor Steingraber compares childbirth to rocking a car out of a snowdrift or angling big furniture through a small doorway to leaven the scientific forays, this is a positively riveting narrative. Parents-to-be or anyone concerned with environmental pollution will want to read and discuss this and act.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
According to many popular guidebooks, pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting are happy experiences that proceed smoothly to bliss and contentment. Wolf and Steingraber beg to differ. Both feminist writer Wolf (The Beauty Myth) and Steingraber (Living Downstream: A Scientist's Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment), an ecologist at Cornell University, feel that consumer guides do not offer women enough information about the reality of the birth process. They argue that childbirth preparation classes make medical intervention seem harmless, normal, and expected. This leads women to stop trusting themselves and their bodies, allowing physicians to take control. But while the two authors agree about some issues, their respective books look at their own pregnancies from different points of view. Wolf focuses on how the psychological and social aspects of pregnancy and impending motherhood changed her sense of self. Coming from a generation of women who identify themselves as independent, equal, and entitled to power, she felt a sense of loss despite having wanted a child. She also began to reexamine some of her basic beliefs about a woman's right to choose and the balance of power in relationships. Wolf concludes that society neither values nor supports parents despite its emphasis on family values.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Despite the title, it is non-religious,written by an ecologist/embryologist/professor who has a baby at age 38, and she goes in great depth & detail about fetal development at cellular levels from day one... and all the things that interrupt those levels. Like what 1 µg of mercury does, vs. 4 µg mercury, to a developing brain; or why babies whose mothers took thalidomide on day 11 have no ears, while the ones whose mothers took it days 15-17 were born with no arms, and days 23-25-no legs, etc. She covers old disasters (Minimata mercury poisoning of entire villages in Japan) to current environmental toxins and birth defects. It was incredibly eye-opening, I'd recommend it to any science geek, but especially to any parents wanting to know more. The scariest part of her research is that cognitive & developmental impairment is seen from the average background levels of many toxins in the human population-no wonder there are so many learning disorders & diseases. Even though the subject matter is largely somber, the wealth of information inside made me giddy-finally the full story, the details, the hows and whys of why bad things are bad, what they do, and how they work.
I like knowing the whole story, and the author leaves no stone unturned. I can't recommend it highly enough.
I would highly recommend this book to young couples planning a family, politicians and health professionals.