The Week In Books 2008, No. 34

Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care is an excellent exploration of maternity care and childbirth in the United States. As a journalist, author Jennifer Block was able to investigate the issues much more fully than others do, and the fact that she was able to talk to and observe insurance companies, obstetricians from various points of view, medical establishments in other industrialized countries (as you probably know, America is statistically the most dangerous industrialized nation in which to give birth), AND midwives and natural childbirth advocates makes this book much stronger than others in the genre. It is also more balanced and more readable than other childbirth investigation type books, which makes it easier to recommend. The book contains a lot of information and interviews from people of different perspectives, but ultimately the conclusion is that women in America aren’t really making choices in childbirth, because they are not adequately informed of the options.

I really enjoyed this book and got a lot out of it, and I would recommend it to any woman who is pregnant or considering ever becoming pregnant. One exception I take with the book is in the chapter where Block interviews activists who equate childbirth rights with abortion rights. I found it interesting that after an entire book about how women need ALL the information presented to them clearly and in an unbiased fashion in order to make the best decisions about their obstetrical care, she neglects to extend that logic to the abortion question. In my mind, the two situations are quite similar, and thus it confuses me when people oppose basic information being provided to women with unplanned pregnancies. Aside from that caveat, I do wholeheartedly recommend this book.

Jennie was reading Making Children Mind without Losing Yours by Kevin Leman last month at Moms Night Out, and her recommendation was convincing, so I checked it out myself. Leman’s perspective is that parents should be authorities, but not authoritative (or the opposite extreme, permissive), and he advocates “reality discipline” such as letting children learn that their actions have consequences and failure is out there, but that they are loved and supported by their families. I think Leman’s points are valuable, and especially enjoyed the fact that he used so many practical examples and focused on the way discipline should be positively focused on training and teaching rather than just constantly yelling or spanking or whatever. A positive approach like that takes more time and certainly a lot of patience and grace, but I think it’s well worth doing. I’d recommend this book, and I may check out other books Leman has written, if our library has them.

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