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Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the…
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Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to… (2001)

by Naomi Wolf

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This was the first book I read on the subject of birthing. It was the book that opened my eyes to the medical industry, and began my very unexpected steps towards my own home birth.

This book is very easy to read, and a great place to begin. ( )
  alsocass | Nov 11, 2009 |
This was an eye-opening book for me. I'm not a mother, I'm not even married, so I haven't yet looked into all these issues in depth. I also don't live in the US. So it was interesting to read about the health system there, which seems to be on the one hand very much intervention-oriented but on the other hand, there is a continually growing natural-birth movement, which is very good.

I've read all of Naomi Wolf's previous books, & as I can recall, each & every one was met with lots of criticism when they first came out. There are flaws in this book, but it's a 'story' that needs to be told. As many other readers have noted, Wolf is a world-known feminist, & the fact that she decided to tackle this difficult issue may help in more public awareness of the problems of childbirth & pregnancy. One criticism I found extremely unfair is that Naomi "whines". It's true that the book has a general negative feeling about pregnancy & childbirth: but it's also true that 99,9% of information for mothers-to-be show a glowing, content, totally calm & fullfilling experience. Sure, there's talk about the pain of labour. But apart from that, there's little aknowledgment in society of a)post-partum depression, b) womens' frustration & sense of failure when they don't manage as well as they hoped work & child-rearing & when their husbands are only "helpers" & not equal partners in the new responsibilities. These issues have to be handled by the woman herself, while everyone around her finds it hard to see these difficulties. I've seen this happening in many of my friends' lives, I've seen the disappointment & the difficulties, & it would be so much better, first of all for the children, if mothers were better cared-for by their husbands but also by society as whole. Naomi Wolf proposes some interesting changes & gives some ideas at the end of the book, so that's a start.

Another unfair argument is that Naomi Wolf is "privileged", that she has a sense of entitlement. Also, some readers have asked- "what is she complaining about? she had a healthy baby didn't she". Since when does the fact that a woman is well-off take away her right & even responsibility to talk about everything she's learnt? Since when does that fact that a woman had a healthy baby mean that she has to forget & erase all she went through before that? It's as if she should be grateful or something, when the fact is that most women do have healthy babies but most women also aren't encouraged to talk about their negative experiences as well as the positive. Women like Wolf have the knowledge, time & yes money to do good research & to shout out loud all this information that has to be heard. So it's not only in her self-interest that she does this, it's in the interest of all women.

Even though I liked this book, there are a couple of things I wasn't happy with. First, the fact that some of Wolf's points were not very clear, & they were even contradictory at times. For example her view about abortion confused & angered me. She does not take a clear pro-choice position but rather says she takes this position while on the other hand she finds herself confused & persuaded partly by pro-lifers. Also, she talks about breast-feeding glowingly, & then goes on to put down "La leche league" as "lactation fascists".

A final note: the book is very very badly edited. There's not a complete bibliography in the end, & there are MANY typos. I found myself holding a pen, crossing out wrongly spelled words, or adding missing words. This to me is unacceptable & even a little embarrassing for the editors & indeed, the author.

All in all, a book well worth reading, which maybe doesn't contain wide research but which definitely leads a reader to do more research on their own.
Comment ( )
  marialondon | Jun 30, 2009 |
Vital reading for feminists, mothers and feminist mothers. ( )
  nilchance | Jan 8, 2009 |
This is a very compelling book in its way. Wolf exposes the hidden agenda of the birth industry in this country and the subtle but often irresistible influences doctors and hospitals use to control birthing women. That said, it is by no means a scientifically rigorous study—Wolf relies heavily on anecdotes, mostly from her own friends and acquaintances. Missing, then, are the experiences of working-class and less intellectual (read: self-absorbed) middle-class women. For instance, she discusses the problem of what last name the baby will have, when the majority of married women in this country still use their husband’s name. She is right to call for a middle course between the ultra-naturalists and the high-tech interventionists, but mentions only (rare) free-standing birthing centers, instead of discussing the differences between hospitals—and many women are able to choose between hospitals. For instance, my sister had a natural childbirth in a hospital with a doctor-supervised midwife, never had to leave her one room, never had her baby taken out of the room unless she requested it, and had a room big enough to walk around in. While she couldn’t eat, drink, or use the bathtub, it’s a far cry from a hospital that routinely takes babies to the nursery and has separate labor and delivery rooms. Wolf had a particular experience, went looking for other women with traumatic experiences (in new motherhood as well as birth), and found them. But it sounds like she was able to find horror stories all over the place, and that says something. ( )
  jholcomb | Feb 21, 2008 |
Every pregnant woman in America should read this book. Wolf's research is thorough and the book is very compelling. Most importantly though, if you are pregnant, you will want to read this book before you give birth, to know what you are getting into.

I was shocked (but not really suprised) at the amount of nonsense that is going on in American hospitals. Birthing babies should be a natural process, but due to the corporatization of the medical industry, and doctors who are trained primarily as surgeons, the C-section rate is at an all-time high (29% nationally in 2004).

Epidurals slow labor (you can't feel your legs; how can you push?) and pitocin is a synthetic version of the the natural chemical, oxytocin, which your body produces nautrally in labor. Pitocin is extremely effective in producing very strong contractions, contractions so so strong that an epidural becomes a necessity. It is also effective in getting patients in and out of the hospital and "off the board".

In this book, Wolf interviwed many midwives, including the great Ina May Gaskin (http://www.inamay.com/), author of the classic, "Spiritual Midwifery", whose approach to childbirth is completely at odds with the modern medical establishment. And their extremely low rates of C-section, epidurals, and episiotomies stand testament to their success.

If you are expecting, you owe it to yourself to read this book. ( )
  ammichaels | Jan 24, 2007 |
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For my mother
and my daughter
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The first time you give birth, the medical establishment calls you a "primigravida." (Introduction)
For us, how did it start? (Chapter 1: First Month, Discovery)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385497458, Paperback)

In The Beauty Myth the fearless Naomi Wolf revolutionized the way we think about beauty. In Misconceptions, she demythologizes motherhood and reveals the dangers of common assumptions about childbirth. With uncompromising honesty she describes how hormones eroded her sense of independence, ultrasounds tested her commitment to abortion rights, and the keepers of the OB/GYN establishment lacked compassion. The weeks after her first daughter’s birth taught her how society, employers, and even husbands can manipulate new mothers. She had bewildering post partum depression, but learned that a surprisingly high.percentage of women experience it.
Wolf’s courageous willingness to talk about the unexpected difficulties of childbirth will help every woman become a more knowledgeable planner of her pregnancy and better prepare her for the challenges of balancing a career, freedom, and a growing family. Invaluable in its advice to parents, Misconceptions speaks to anyone connected–personally, medically, or professionally–to a new mother.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:37 -0400)

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