Emily Oster is angry and rightfully so. It seems that all of a sudden when women become pregnant, we are treated like children. NO alcohol, NO caffeine … and that’s just the beginning. During pregnancy we’re constantly warned not to gain too much weight. Towards the end, when desperate to go into labour, we’re told to have lots of sex (wait a minute, am I seeing a pattern here? Did doctors makes all these rules or husbands?).
We get passed around from appointment to doctor to nurse and hardly told what we are being subjected to and why. Oster asks questions like, “Why aren’t I allowed to eat while in labour?”, “What are the pros and cons of an epidural?”, and “Isn’t there some medical proof proving that daily foot massages benefit the baby?” (just kidding, that last one is my own).
To her disappointment, Oster was confronted with vague answers and doctors who preferred to say “no coffee!” rather than “two cups a day is feasible” because they don’t trust women to control themselves. Can you imagine if pregnant women really lost the ability to enact self-control? They probably wouldn’t be drinking eight cups a coffee a day, but more likely behaving in narcoleptic manner – taking naps under the desk at work, while driving, mid conversation, and face down in a peanut butter sandwich at lunch.
Oster did her own research and challenges these pedantic notions — think Freakonomics style. Every chapter is dedicated to an aspect of pregnancy (i.e. alcohol, weight gain, prenatal testing) or birth (birth plans, episiotomy, doulas). She crunches numbers, analyses data, and applies her economist brain to the task of debunking pregnancy and birthing myths. The books reads in a quite dry and straightforward manner, with a few humorous quips, but thankfully for those of us who get headaches when confronted with statistics, there’s a clear bottom line at the end of every chapter. If anything, this book will make you feel a lot better about not being the paradigm of pregnancy.
So if you want the full story and some more clear guidance for your pregnancy, Expecting Better is a must read, but maybe not all in one sitting. Grab a glass of wine (only one per day, ladies!) and take it one chapter at a time.