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Mothering the Mother Birth Services

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    BOOK REVIEW

    Naomi Wolf

    Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood
    Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood

    by Mary Paliescheskey, Birth Guide

    Mothering the Mother Birth Services

    Starting from conception and moving through to motherhood, Naomi Wolf exposes all the untold secrets facing women in America. The subtitle for this book could be “I wish someone had told me”. The great silence has been broken.

    Half the book focuses on the process of pregnancy and birth. The philosophy of birth by different levels of providers is defined: obstetrician vs. midwifery. Additionally, American providers are contrasted to European providers. The author suggests that the American birth experience is explained by the need to bill for something. Providing low intervention care is not in the best interest of the institution. The provider and the hospital need to generate an income. Countries that provide government health care have a vested interest in providing low cost births. Therefore, they have less intervention. Surprisingly, those countries have better birth outcomes.

    Ms. Wolf also explains the difference in midwifery care provided in obstetrician’s office and in free standing birth centers. Many obstetricians provide a staff of midwives. Consumers may not be aware that a midwife is not equivalent to an obstetrician in the hierarchy of medicine. A midwife may make decisions only to a certain point. Once the birth deviates from a predetermined ‘normal’, the obstetrician is in charge. “Certified nurse midwives must usually yield to the judgement of OB/GYN and hospital boards. The midwives

    who can most genuinely offer the best of both worlds-midwifery pacing and support with high tech backup- are a tiny fraction of nurse midwives who serve in freestanding birth centers aligned with hospitals.”

    Ms. Wolf quotes childbirth educators that have to edit what they teach in classes in order to gain referrals from providers. Once again, income is limiting information to women. “No one informed me even remotely in our birth classes about the kind of courage you need to tap into during labor.”

    Ms. Wolf considers the following statements myths: 1) Hospital approach is the safest; 2) Fetal monitors protect your baby; 3) Normal hospital birth position is conducive to labor and delivery; 4) Friedman curve determines a safe window for birth; 5) Doctor and hospital staff give adequate emotional support; 6) Epidurals are necessary; 7) Episiotomy should be standard care; and 8) You will be treated according to your medical needs, not race or class.

    Ms. Wolf also challenges the extreme opposite of the medical model: the naturalists. She calls for a much needed middle ground which includes the best of both extremes.

    In the second half of the book, Ms. Wolf exposes the myths of motherhood. This is the other side of ‘nobody told me’. Your home life. All the renegotiation to your marital relationship. Women find that they lack help and understanding from family and society. “It is not the depressed new mother who is aberrant, it is her situation that is the aberration. In most other cultures,… a new mother …typically has many fresh hands to pass the baby to.” Britain has home visits by nurses. Holland provides home helpers. Japan has a one week hospital stay for mother and infant with around the clock help. “America treats new mothers unusually badly, even compared with other developed countries.”

    There are things that women never say in a group. They never say that during this early adjustment, many feel like the baby destroyed the marriage. They never say that they became second class slave drones to both husband and society. Many women feel that they find out that their husbands were never truly their friends. That there was a lie that they believed about marriage-it’s not a friendship because you would never treat a true friend as second class.

    “I thought of how many women told me dispiritedly about how their husbands waited for them to ask-or make a list-and how demoralizing it was for them.” The men behaved passive-aggressively.

    Ms. Wolf quotes scientific studies to back-up the women’s perceptions: “Gottman and Silver’s research on men who believe in woman’s equality only contribute four minutes a day of housework than less enlightened men.” Women find they have less say. Resentments build. Women end up finding a way to call it fair.

    “It dawned on me gradually what was happening. When negotiations had been simply between two individuals, the woman had been able to dare to insist on equality. But with the baby’s arrival…The woman was no longer willing to take the risks.” Ms. Wolf describes the problem as Solomon’s sword. Women could no longer risk the consequences because the baby needed to be protected.

    “When the women I heard from described the rebalanced economy of the family’s time and work after the birth of the baby, they had developed a strategy of denial to protect themselves and their marriages from the resentment that these unbalanced arrangement caused.”

    Many women feel that her lover is gone and she adjusts to a traditional husband-wife relationship. She may continue to feel that she travels in a different social class. After the adjustment, the relationship is better between the couple, but it was through the woman giving up her expectations-not through a change on the man’s part.

    For more information or to buy this book click the link:

    Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood
    Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood

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