America has a knack for bullying. It starts young – oh, so young – even before birth. One of the most bullied groups of people in the US today is expectant mothers. Book Review and Giveaway: The Business of Baby, by Jennifer Margulis (Scribner, 2013).
Jennifer Margulis’s new book The Business of Baby could really be titled Bullied at Birth. She’s an investigative journalist and mother of four who’s written for The New York Times. Even though I thought I was fairly educated about the Birth Profit Machine in the US, Jennifer’s book surprised me.
- Did you know hospitals sell your baby’s foreskin if he’s circumcised? The foreskin is prized for skin-care products.
- A First Bath in the hospital is bad for baby. Newborns need their protective vernix coating.
- Most US babies are now born Monday-Friday during convenient daytime hours.
My first-born was hospital born. My second was a home birth. What a difference in night and day! I deeply understand the message in Jennifer’s book.
Unfortunately, many first-time parents – the ones who need this information the most – may not be ready to hear the message delivered by The Business of Baby. That’s why the cycle of bullying continues.
Sometimes – like me and the author herself – you have to experience childbirth before you understand the intense pressures pregnant women endure. I know I never would have guessed that nurses would thrust free diaper bags at me emblazoned with infant formula company brands (even after I insisted I would breast-feed), or that my doctor would say, “My shift ends at 8pm, let’s just get things moving by breaking your waters.”
Luckily I said no. Once you say yes, the “Cascade of Intervention” begins, as Jennifer wisely points out. Soon you’re strapped to a bed with tubes of Pitocin and talk of “emergency” Ceasareans. I still remember what I said when my doctor suggested “speeding things up.” It was September. “I have nothing to do until January,” I told him.
Expecting a baby is a vulnerable time. Parents-to-be are filled with hopes, fears and naiveté combined with authority figures hovering around. The Business of Baby is a well-researched wake-up call to the business of US pregnancy, birth and infant care. It’s an excellent resource for nurse practitioners, midwives, ob/gyns, doulas and grandparents as well as expecting parents.
In fact, I agree whole-heartedly with this review by Library Journal: “Not just for parents to ponder.”
I hope people who teach childbirth classes get their hands on this book. Perhaps childbirth instructors are best positioned to be the ones who open the eyes of parents-to-be.
Did you ever feel bullied or pressured during pregnancy or labor? What shocks you about modern birth? Leave a comment, send me an email or sign up to subscribe to this blog and you’ll be entered to win a FREE copy of this beautiful hardback book fresh off the press.
Date for free book drawing: Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 5pm Eastern time.