The first book any pregnant woman runs out to buy, with the small exception of a handful who have already heard about how horrible the book is itself, is What to Expect while Expecting. The first time I picked up the book, I was working on becoming a doula, and it was suggested reading through the agency I was working through at the time. When I started to read the book I thought to myself repeatedly "OH MY!" or "How scary?" or "Who in their right mind would tell a pregnant woman that?" All in all the book is a guide on how to be the shining example of an obstetric patient. All the unnecessary testing they make you feel like you must have, all the routine interventions they make you think are routine while they are unnecessary, and all the scary worst case scenarios. While some of the information is very valuable, this should not be the pregnancy bible, nor should it be the only book, or first book a pregnant woman reads.
I think this really goes hand and hand with the whole pregnancy television show epidemic. Which in turn goes right along with the obscene amount of women seeing Obstetricians for low risk, healthy pregnancies. I made that mistake with my first. I thought that just because I was seeing a female obstetrician she was going to not only be nice, kind, and gentle, but she would practice more of the midwifery model of care. Boy was I wrong. People do not realize that for thousands of years, women were having babies with midwives as really the only form of a provider. It wasn't until the 1900's when the male dominated society took over the birth field though nasty smear campaigns against midwifery. This is when the birth field took a turn from being about the mother, to being about the money that Doctors, and hospitals could make from the field of pregnancy and birth, which in turn has become a multi billion dollar industry. Many Obstetricians during this same time frame were graduating from medical school often never seeing a live birth themselves. Real qualified professionals to deliver babies right?
Anyways, bringing it back to this book. Over the past 50 years, pregnancy and birth has really taken this huge turn from a natural occurring event to a medical event, and books like What to Expect when Expecting have used this as a cash cow. They can write a book telling you how to be a good patient, what tests you NEED for yourself and your baby (not telling you that many are completely optional and some are not even recommended for healthy, young, low risk women) and what kind of options you have for your birth, such as epidurals and inductions, while leaving out the serious risks. They will however give the serious risks for things like out of hospital births. Conspiracy? I think so. Someone is bank rolling these books and it certainly is not midwives. Could it be the billion dollar empire we have come to know as ACOG?
Really though, if I can get one woman to not read that book who is newly pregnant or planning on having a baby, then my goal is met. People should be reading real helpful books. Not that crap!