Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care

Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care

4.5 13
by Jennifer Block
     
 

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In the United States, more than half the women who give birth are given drugs to induce or speed up labor; for nearly a third of mothers, childbirth is major surgery - the cesarean section. For women who want an alternative, choice is often unavailable: Midwives are sometimes inaccessible; in eleven states they are illegal. In one of those states, even birthing

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Overview

In the United States, more than half the women who give birth are given drugs to induce or speed up labor; for nearly a third of mothers, childbirth is major surgery - the cesarean section. For women who want an alternative, choice is often unavailable: Midwives are sometimes inaccessible; in eleven states they are illegal. In one of those states, even birthing centers are outlawed.When did birth become an emergency instead of an emergence? Since when is normal, physiological birth a crime? A groundbreaking journalistic narrative, Pushed presents the complete picture of maternity care in America. Crisscrossing the country to report what women really experience during childbirth, Jennifer Block witnessed several births - from a planned cesarean to an underground home birth. Against this backdrop, Block investigates whether routine C-sections, inductions, and epidurals equal medical progress. She examines childbirth as a reproductive rights issue: Do women have the right to an optimal birth experience? If so, is that right being upheld? Block's research and experience reveal in vivid detail that while emergency obstetric care is essential, there is compelling evidence that we are overusing medical technology at the expense of maternal and infant health: Either women's bodies are failing, or the system is failing women.

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Editorial Reviews

BOLD Book Club
[Block] really gets that maternity care is a woman's issue that all people should care about, not just mothers, and she has no agenda through a birth experience or professional work in maternity care. Pushed shines a spotlight on maternity care and asks important questions about the standard practices in America.

Kansas City Star
This is a worthwhile book for anyone who cares about reforming our health-care system-right from the start.
Publishers Weekly

According to writer and editor Block (Our Bodies, Ourselves), "the United States has the most intense and widespread medical management of birth" in the world, and yet "rank[s] near the bottom among industrialized countries in maternal and infant mortality." Block shows how, in transforming childbirth into a business, hospitals have turned "procedures and devices developed for the treatment of abnormality" into routine practice, performed for no reason other than "speeding up and ordering an unpredictable... process"; for instance, the U.S. cesarean section rate tripled in the 1970s and has doubled since then. Block looks into a growing contingent of parents-to-be exploring alternatives to the hospital-and the attendant likelihood of medical intervention-by seeking out birthing centers and options for home birth. Unfortunately, obstacles to these alternatives remain considerable-laws across the U.S. criminalizing or severely restricting the practice of midwifery have led trained care providers to practice underground in many states-while tort reform has done next to nothing to lower malpractice insurance rates or improve hospital birthing policies. This provocative, highly readable exposé raises questions of great consequence for anyone planning to have a baby in the U.S., as well as those interested or involved in women's health care. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Some terrible truths about being born in the USA. Were there ever any doubts as to the personal being political, this former editor at Ms. and editor of the revised Our Bodies, Ourselves convincingly lays them to rest in a gripping expose of American obstetrics. With extensive field research and thorough historical contextualization, Block reveals some disturbing statistics in this country's birth management and shows how medical views of birth are as subject to change as the whims of fashion. Current interventionist trends in obstetrician-centered care have yielded the ironic phenomenon of natural childbirth in the U.S. becoming an almost anomalous event. Block shows that, in the United States, "well over half of labors are chemically induced or augmented," and "two-thirds of women have their water broken manually"; two years ago, nearly a third of women gave birth by cesarean section, and of those delivering vaginally, another third had an episiotomy. Yet preterm births are rising, cerebral palsy rates remain constant and "women are 70% more likely to die in childbirth in the United States than in Europe." Why? Because, Block argues, what's deemed safe changes: "In the age of evidence-based medicine . . . care is constrained and determined by liability and financial concerns, by a provider's licensing regulations and malpractice insurance. The evidence often has nothing to do with it." Somewhere along the line, probably when barring midwives from the delivery room came into vogue, the notion that "what's best for women is best for babies" was lost; that message Block hopes to deliver anew to her readers. A provocative and hotly controversial analysis of a side of reproductive rightsfeminism seems to have forgot. Agent: Elizabeth Kaplan/Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738210735
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
06/01/2007
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

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