Wednesday, May 7, 2008

two books every mom or mom-to-be should read

I recently finished reading Birth and am now reading Pushed. I think every woman who plans to have children should read these books. They have me pretty fired up right now about obstetrical practices in our country and how they are affecting women and babies. I think I will probably write a more in-depth post about my feelings later, but for now I want to HIGHLY recommend these books. Go to your library and check these out! They are both written by female journalists who did extensive research. They will open your eyes to maternity care in the US and seriously make you think.

Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born
(the link takes you to Amazon, which has a good review)

This book is a well-research history of birth practices beginning with the evolution of human pelvises and head size and covering every fad and medical "advance" to help women give birth. The author, Tina Cassidy, a former journalist for the Boston Globe, set out to research the history of birth after the unplanned cesarean of her first son. The book is quick read as it flows very nicely from topic to topic and is full of meaningful anecdotes as well as study-based findings.

Here is a link to Tina Cassidy's blog.

Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care

As the title suggests, this book is much more focused on modern maternity practices. I am about half-way through it, and the more I read the more fired-up I get. Jennifer Block, also a journalist, did exhaustive research to write this. She cites hundreds of studies and talked to many, many medical professionals and mothers about the birth experience in the US. Did you know that some women are so traumatized by their birth experience they get Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the same disorder that soldiers in war and victims of extreme violence are diagnosed with?

Here is the book info from Jennifer Block's blog:

In Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care (Da Capo, 2007), Block reports on the current state of maternity care across the country, from inside the operating room of a hospital with a 44% cesarean rate to the living room floor of a woman who gives birth in a kiddie pool with an illegal midwife. Pushed is not a pregnancy guide, but rather a narrative investigation of modern American childbirth.

Do routine inductions, C-sections, and epidurals equal medical progress? Why are home-birth midwives illegal in 11 states? Why are physicians and hospitals denying women vaginal births after cesarean? Can breech babies be born vaginally? How did episiotomies become routine? Where does Pitocin come from? Should midwives go to jail? Is home birth safe? Are women really requesting unnecessary C-sections? Is normal birth the next “woman’s right to choose”? Pushed tackles all these questions and more.

I have a lot I want to say, but I'm going to say it later. I just can't emphasize strongly enough that I think these books are well worth your time if you ever plan on giving birth.


  1. Pregnancy and childbirth is such a loaded topic! Who would've ever thought?

    Out of my three labors the one I had at home was the most difficult, but also for some reason the one I remember as being most rewarding. Not having an epidural or pitocin made the pain and length of my labor almost unbearable, but it was strangely satisfying afterward.

    I do wish that women were more informed on the birthing process so that they knew what options were available to them before they have their first (or subsequent) baby(ies). So many just go into it blindly. My mom's a doula so I had a major head's up!

    You're doing a great job educating yourself Katrina. Just remember that EVERY labor and delivery is different, and that unexpected things do occasionally happen. I've had a couple of friends be sorely dissappointed and/or hard on themselves because their labor when differently than they had planned.

    No matter what, it's one of the two most important days of your life to date, at the end of it all you're going to have a gorgeous baby!!

  2. Nicki, I didn't know you had a home birth. I want to talk to you more about it.

  3. Katrina!

    What are your plans? There's no way I could convince the Husband to do a a birthing center (much less a home birth) but I have talked him OUT of pain meds and interventions.

    Also, WHERE can I get a copy of this book! There's only one copy at the library and it's checked out! B&N doesn't carry it, I can't believe it's this hard to find!

  4. Melissa... Sorry, I have them checked out of the library! But I'll be returning them soon. You can order them both on Amazon also for about 11 bucks each.

    As for my plans, I actually am going to have the baby at UNC. I've been seeing Dr. Schlegel at Student Health and she is AMAZING! I love her. She's practically a midwife. And she said the hospital is really open to low intervention births. Plus, she said when we show up we can request the midwife on call instead of the OB. So I'm feeling pretty good about things. Also, I've being doing a hypnobabies course that I think is really going to prepare me to go sans meds. I wrote a post about it a few weeks ago if you want more info.

  5. I've had all the babies I'm going to have but I think it is helpful to have these guides and opinions of people that have read these books - that should be very helpful to anyone planning on having a baby.

    Take care of you and that little baby - Kellan

  6. I am kind of interested in reading these...especially after actually giving birth now, I have lots of thoughts about "next time".

  7. Those books look really good. I just read something that said every expecting Mom should see the baby business movie. I can't remember the name, but the one with Ricki Lake. I'll have to watch that before next time comes.