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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A groundbreaking narrative investigation of childbirth in the age of machines, malpractice, and managed care, Pushed presents the complete picture of maternity care in America. From inside the operating room of a hospital with a 44% Cesarean rate to the living room floor of a woman who gives birth with an illegal midwife, Block exposes a system in which few


A groundbreaking narrative investigation of childbirth in the age of machines, malpractice, and managed care, Pushed presents the complete picture of maternity care in America. From inside the operating room of a hospital with a 44% Cesarean rate to the living room floor of a woman who gives birth with an illegal midwife, Block exposes a system in which few women have an optimal experience. Pushed surveys the public health impact of routine labor inductions, C-sections, and epidurals, but also examines childbirth as a women’s rights issue: Do women even have the right to choose a normal birth? Is that right being upheld? A wake-up call for our times, Block’s gripping research reveals that while emergency obstetric care is essential, we are overusing medical technology at the expense of maternal and infant health.

Editorial Reviews

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

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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Da Capo Press
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5.88(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Block is a former editor at Ms. Magazine and an editor of the revised Our Bodies, Ourselves. Her work has appeared in The Nation, Mother Jones, and Elle. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm sad to see the above reviewer, Ms. Ob/Gyn, stoop so low as to accuse Block of enslaving women. It's another disgusting attempt on the part of institutionalized medicine to prevent women from learning the truth behind modern medical practices. This book educates women on the medical concerns regarding common obstetrics practice. It will benefit any woman giving birth in modern America regardless of whether she desires a hospital birth or a homebirth. It gives women knowledge and knowledge is power. That may sound cliche, but this book empowers women to participate in choices regarding their own body rather than blindly following the doctor's orders. Birth is not an illness or a medical procedure, it's a biological function. I found this book too late. I hope other women find it and use it to have the birth they deserve.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book to read, and I wish I had read it sooner! It was very informative and shed a lot of light on how doctor's "push" women to have c-sections. I think every pregnant woman or any woman wanting to become pregnant should read this book, and listen and understand what it is saying. You were made to have a baby, your body knows what it is doing, only under extreme circumstance should you need surgery. Otherwise, let your body do what it was made to do!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is time for women to know the truth about birth in the United States.
Heavenbound More than 1 year ago
Jennifer Block did a wonderful job exposing the sad truth about maternity care without bias. This book is a MUST READ for any woman who is pregnant or plans to have a baby. It shows the history of obstetrics and how far from "normal" all of the medical technology has taken maternity care. Most doctors are no longer using evidence-based practices, but have liability driven (CYA) practices ... and women and babies are paying the price. It also sheds light on the fact that, in most cases, a healthy woman is better off having her baby delivered by a midwife than by an OB doctor in a hospital. There are even obstetricians who agree. I am a nurse and doula and work with doctors and midwives on a regular basis and the amount of intervention in this "natural body process" is very sad and frustrating, not to mention dangerous! But it is not just the doctors ... women are allowing and even choosing these dangerous interventions because our society is so obsessed with convenience and instant gratification that no one wants to wait until the baby and their body are ready for birth. It is an easy read with very factual content based on legitimate reasearch and "the evidence". I highly recommend this book if you're looking for answers about choices and childbirth ... or if you are just interested in some of the history about how we got to this point in our treatment of pregnancy and childbirth.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, I felt better equiped to handle my next pregnancy and my rights. Wish I'd read it earlier. Block shares her opinion by uses facts to illustrate her points. This book is a must read for women to understand their rights and options during pregnancy and birth.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a book that I read for a women & health class, I am not expecting anytime soon. I would recommend it though for expecting mothers, it helps to inform women of the issues surrounding child birth today. It is quite bias against the medical field but it you read it knowing that then I think that you can look past it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are a woman who has had or ever plans to have a baby this is a must read. This book contains a lot of information on the past and current practices for childbirth. It definitely makes you think about your rights as a woman and patient. Block provides plenty of research while still being easily comprehendible for any reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is in conflict with the desired feminist stand of this author. She in a very round about way enslaves modern women to the pains of natural labor despite her many statements about the empowering and freedom of women. She also misses the many monumentous points in history that breought about the legal interuptions between a pt and her doctor. The last 30% of this book is the best written part. As an ob/gyn, I would believe that at least 50-75% of women reading this book would be left feeling inadequate as they would prefer,NOT THEIR DOCTOR, some relief of pain. The most important point in this book is the obvious lack of sensitivity of this feminist to the choices of women today. This all coming from an ob/gyn who believes in a woman's choice in the way that they deliver: completely natural or with the help of modern medicine.