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Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Careby Jennifer Block
Synopses & Reviews
In the U.S., nearly half of all mothers are chemically induced into labor whether they want it or not; almost a third give birth via C-section. For women who want an alternative, choice is often unavailable: Midwives are often 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? When did normal, physiological birth become a crime?
Pushed presents the complete picture of birth in America from the front-lines. Crisscrossing the country to investigate all sides of the issue, and witness to several births — from a planned Caesarean to an underground home birth — Jennifer Block examines childbirth as a reproductive rights issues, exploring the implications of the widely held assumption that routine C-sections, inductions, and epidurals equal medical progress. Block's research and experience show that while medical intervention certainly has its place, there is compelling evidence that we are overusing medical technology at the expense of maternal and fetal health: Either women's bodies are failing, or the system is failing women.
"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 'ranks 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 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 the 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 expose raises questions of great consequence for anyone planning to have a baby in U.S., as well as those interested or involved in women's health care." Publishers Weekly (Copyright © Reed Business Information)
"A stirring discussion of reproductive rights, informed consent, and the rights of the mother vs. the fetus... Recommended." Library Journal
"A gripping expose....Provocative and hotly controversial analysis of a side of reproductive rights feminism seems to have forgot." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"The book is loaded with interviews, statistics and...some quietly deft storytelling." Chicago Reader
Block examines childbirth as a reproductive rights issues, exploring the implications of the assumption that routine C-sections, inductions, and epidurals equal medical progress. She argues that medical technology is being overused at the expense of maternal and fetal health.
A provocative and incisive analysis of childbirth in the age of machines, malpractice, and managed care
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.
About 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 such publications as the Village Voice, The Nation, Mother Jones, and ELLE. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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