Saturday, March 8, 2008

Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born

Two weeks ago I finished reading the very interesting and intriguing, Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born. I got this book from Bookins and was really excited because I've wanted to read it for quite some time. It did not disappoint--it was really engaging, fast paced, interesting, all of the good qualities of a novel in a nonfiction book (this is my favorite kind!). I love all the little-known facts I gleaned from it. The book is a historical overview of birth and includes some really fascinating content about the development and progress of cesareans. There is also lots of interesting content about how midwives were driven out of business in a calculated fashion (an attempt at eradication that is still going on, really!)

The only thing I took issue with in the book was that early on the author seems to make the suggestion that the rising cesarean rate is related to the fact that our babies are getting larger. I am not aware of any evidence indicating that this is actually true. (?) There are a number of factors contributing to increasing cesarean rates and biology has little to do with it! (Consider that the biggest "risk factors" that increase your chances of a cesarean are how old you are, how much insurance you have, and what your race is--white, well insured , women over 30 having the highest cesarean rates!)

I've been following author Tina Cassidy's blog for some time that chronicles her pregnancy and birth decisions with her second child. I had been reading it for a while before I got her actual book and it was really interesting to see how her attitudes have "evolved" since this book was published in 2006. In the closing section of this book she says, "I'm not brave enough to have a baby at home--although I respect those who do." Then, lo and behold, there she is in her birth pool at home with her lovely new home-VBAC baby on Dec. 8 2007. She has been posted her story in installments and has just gotten up to the birth part of her story. Her blog has been great reading! I wasn't sure until she got to the birth that she was really going to have a HBAC or not, so it kind of kept me on the edge of my seat too.

Back to the actual book, a quote I found amusing in the section about breastfeeding: "In Italy, early medical writers told mothers that if they let their baby drink from animals, the child would always look 'stupid and vacant and not right in the head.'"

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