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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Business of Baby; a review

We live in a time when we have come to question everything. We are careful with what goes into our food, what sort of food we eat and how it was grown. We look for alternative ways to drink water, provide electric, heat to our homes and fuel our cars. We distrust corporations and the spying big brother when it comes to internet security and banking and we rarely believe what we hear from the news, newspapers or websites. On one hand we have become a suspicious society, which isn’t a very nice space to live in, but on the other hand, what has been launched from that is a society of independence, one where we, individually, inspire to educate ourselves, find out what our options are, what feels right, and what, in the long run is best for us and our family.

However, in the actual process of giving birth to our families, we can often feel powerless and left in the hands of others, whom instinctively we want to question. We can independently scan the internet, trying to weigh up the options and tap into what truly feels best to us, yet it always feels slightly ungrounded, like there’s a story lying beneath, that no one ever talks about.
That is why I was anxious to review Jennifer Margulis’ new book, The Business of Baby. I knew that finally, some of the mystery surrounding medical pregnancy and birth practices would be unearthed and I would have facts at my fingertips... for anyone who asked.

I have to say, this is a bit of an unusual book review for me to give. The business of Baby focuses on the physical elements of having a baby and the often harmful malpractices that have become routine. Over the last few years I have tried to keep a distance from stating too much of my opinions regarding the likes of hospital practices or parental preferences as I firmly believe that as parents, as people, we try our best, we do what we feel is best, what fits in with our perspective of the world. We might learn differently and change those beliefs along the road of life, we might feel best doing what our families have done for generations. However, the problem with that is whether we are actually doing what we do because we simply don’t know any other option. We may feel our choices are so slim that we opt for the “lesser evil”, rather than having the encouragement to follow our instincts, get connected and live our dream experience.

My work is also firmly based in the philosophy that we all create our realities and outcomes from a deeper, spiritual level. Things happen, not because we are victims to systems, but because we either need the contrast to find better feeling options, or we create those situations on a deeper level with others involved with them, in the case of birth and pregnancy for instance, our babies. Our children often choose the situations around their pregnancies and births before they even come, to provide them with a launching place to start life with.

However, as you can read in my “pre-review” blog posts, I know I had some shadows of doubt, some lack of information that haunted me through all my pregnancies that having them lifted would have made finding a spiritual connection so much easier. Because Jennifer’s book removes those shadows, I find that it is an incredibly useful tool for a spiritually based pregnancy.
There is so much in this book, so many questions answered, that to list them all here would be impossible. It might also mean people don’t read it themselves, and therefore miss out on the personal, candid and confident voice Jennifer relates her information with. An award winning journalist, whose work I first found in the Mothering Magazine, but who has also written for the NY times, Washington Post and Parenting, Jennifer pacts the book full of antidotes, personal and interviewed stories, hard facts and statistics to drive home the fact that there is a grey area in obstetrics and pediatrics. That no matter what, the bottom line is that doctors have to earn a living and in an age of court cases and the constant threat of being sued as well as the overbearing power of the pharmaceutical companies and how they ply their wares, many doctors find it easier to sacrifice the healthiest solution for their patient and take the most profitable instead (or at least cover their own backs as best as they can).

As Jennifer writes in her introduction; “This book will show you, time and time again corporate profits and private interests trump what is best for moms and babies. The science is consistently ignored and practices proven to be harmful are continued. Doctors- even though most have the best possible intentions- often unwittingly go along with a broken and sometimes dangerous system.”
From the problems of over examinations, which the doctors do to please the insurance companies, but usually lead to interventions, to the lack of nutritional education, to the additives in prenatal vitamins and other pharmaceuticals, the unknown effects of ultrasounds, how they are being widely overused, and the question of their use being a cause of the rise in autism, to the risks of C-sections but the incentives for doctors to use them, Jennifer spends the first half of the book looking at prenatal and birth care in great detail. We live in a world of numbers, and as one nurse points out, that’s what we’re seen as. It seems to me that at a time of one of the greatest miracles of life, one of the most natural things a human can experience, when a body can grow another person, and do everything within itself to support that new life, it seems an insane perspective to boil the experience down to a medical procedure, let alone a human being to a number on a chart.

The second half of the book is dedicated to the first year after birth, right from the possibility of the Hep. Vaccine within the first day and the risks of circumcision soon after (Jennifer witnessed and reported a circumcision while interviewing the performing doctor. It was one of the times that I squirmed in my chair with her vivid and honest detailed description.) A deeper look at the pharmaceutical companies and diaper companies such as Pampers and Huggies follows, as she looks at the manipulative ways they discourage parents from breastfeeding or early toilet training. The physical damage that Jennifer discovered caused by formula or extended diaper wearing was appalling, and the fact that children are now often not toilet trained by the time they reach kindergarten shows that the advertising campaigns of these companies are still incredibly successful.

The book is a captivating read, especially considering that I read neither investigative reports nor medical nonfiction on a regular base. Jennifer had me at the introduction. The only downside, in my opinion, is that it is about the American system of pregnancy and baby care, and as a Canadian the book had me questioning how much applied to my country’s situation. Ironically, the audio versions of the book have been produced by a Canadian publishing company and read by the talented, Canadian, actress Rebecca Jenkins. Jennifer is also being interviewed soon on a CBC talk show, which may shed some light on Canadian practices. It would have been impossible to cover all of North America, and Canadians, as well as anyone, can still benefit from the book for simply the reason that the lid has been blown off and the shadows cast away forever. Now, thanks to Jennifer, we know the right questions to ask, we can see things a little clearer and the overwhelming sense of mystery regarding the care we receive when pregnant and the questions we face after is well on its way of being solved.

The Business of Baby is available through Amazon and other book retailers. Also, please visit Jennifer's Facebook page for some great tidbits and articles.

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