Throwing “What to Expect” Across the Room

Hi Readers — I just loved this comment to the “Driven Crazy by Pregnancy Perfectionists” post. And her phrase to describe the over-the-top precautions mom-to-be are advised to take — “mindless acts of pointless martyrdom”  — is so wonderful, it deserves to be embroidered on a million Baby Boppies. Voila:

Dear Free-Range Kids: I literally threw What to Expect When You’re Expecting across the room after I cracked it open for the first time to a random page and read, “We don’t have any evidence that coloring your hair harms the fetus, but we don’t have any evidence that it’s GOOD for the fetus, so sorry, Mom, but it’s just one more sacrifice you’re going to have to make.”

My blood pressure shot up so high reading that, I’m surprised I didn’t go into pre-term labor.  The only thing that saved me was knowing that the book was a hand-me-down and I hadn’t contributed to the personal fortune of its author.

So we preggos are supposed to give up everything that has not been proven to be beneficial to the baby even if there’s no evidence that it’s harmful? I refuse. The amount of love I feel for this little guy kicking my bladder is better measured by my determination to raise him to engage intellectually with the world around him than by mindless acts of pointless martyrdom.

“If we haven’t proven it’s good, you have to stop doing it” is the easily the most incredibly irrational, anti-intellectual, anti-scientific, anti-common sense rationale I have ever read for ANYTHING and yet I think that it’s the keystone philosophy for the pregnancy police.  Inherited wisdom from a society ravaged by lawsuits.  Never mind that we happily ignore the risks of things that it would it just be too damned difficult to give up, like car travel or walking.  Life is full of risk!  Brimming with risk!  Suck it up!  Put on your big girl panties (and maternity panties are indeed big) and deal.

You can babyproof your entire house top to bottom and then have it be hit by lightning two hours later.  So put the knives out of reach, install smoke detectors, and lock up the Drano when the baby starts crawling, and then just do the best you can.

I’m 26 weeks pregnant and last night I drank the first beer of this pregnancy and watched the Saints win their first ever Superbowl and my baby merrily kicked before, during, and after.  Still kicking this morning.  And I don’t feel the least bit bad about it.  Sorry, What To Expect.  By the way, if I feel like coloring my hair, I’ll do that, too.  I’ll stop short of drinking the dye if it’s any consolation.

Besides, I can’t prove that reading What To Expect is good for my baby… and the 30 seconds of elevated blood pressure it caused might actually be harmful.  I’m afraid that chucking it is just one more sacrifice that I’m going to make. — Christine

Never say dye? PHOTO CREDIT: Incurlers

121 Responses

  1. That book is such a fearmonger. I skipped it entirely and both my infant and myself are healthy and happy!

  2. Yeah, Christine!

  3. That horrible book scared me half to death with my first pregnancy and then I threw it in the recycle box with my second. What got me was the “What you might be worried about” sections. I wasn’t until I read it. And their obsession with food! “It takes just as little time to peel a peach as it does to cut a piece of peach pie.” Oh for $%#@ sakes. And the scenario where the guy is worried that his wife won’t lose the pregancy weight? They suggested that he gently steer her away from a deep fried option on the restaurant menu. My husband knew if he pulled that crap with me, he would have ended up with fork in his eye. 😉

  4. I love it!!!! When I was pregnant I read on the internet that you shouldn’t stand in front of a microwave, so I would push the button and then run around the corner behind a wall until the timer dinged. I told this to my brother (a physics student at MIT) and he said, “What, do you expect it to cook your fetus through both the wall of the oven and the wall of your uterus? That’s not how microwaves work.”

    Upon reflection, of course that’s not how microwaves work. That’s why the inside of the potato is always cold when the outside is boiling away. But sometimes fear trumps logic when you’re pregnant. It shouldn’t.

  5. I hated that book! The recommended diet is so strict that it would be difficult even when you’re not pregnant. I stopped reading when it suggested eating a chewable antacid for dessert.

  6. What did me in on the book was the part where they advise the “coach” this regarding pain relief in labor:

    “If she requests medication, communicate her request to the nurse or practitioner, but suggest a waiting time before it’s administered.”

    What?!?!?!?!

    If my husband did that while I was in enough agony to ask for relief, I can’t imagine what I would do to him. That ruined the book for me.

  7. I also didn’t read this book until after my last pregnancy – thank goodness. What floored me was that apparently pregnant women must use low-fat dressing on their salads. If a pregnant woman can’t have a little olive oil, who in the world can?

    Better not answer that.

  8. AMEN! I’m 39 weeks pregnant, and I’m so sick of hearing everyone tell me what I can’t or shouldn’t do. I didn’t even open What to Expect because I heard that it scared pregnant women. Just what you want in a book.

  9. Wow! I never actually read this book, or any pregnancy/parenting book for that matter (and I’m on pregnancy #2 right now). I can’t believe some of the advice it gives. I’m absolutely flabbergasted that this book is considered “the bible” of pregnancy.

  10. The thing that drives me the most nuts about this book (besides the FEAR, THE RAGING FEAR) is the lauguage. It’s written like a Good Housekeeping from 1950…the language is so dated, proper, and condescending that it turns my stomach every time I read it. My skin is crawling as I write this just thinking about it. Ugh.

  11. While my wife was wigging out over What to Expect (we didn’t know any better, it was 10 years ago), I was reading a guy version. I can’t remember the title right now, but each chapter had 3 sections: what’s happening to the baby, what’s happening to the mom, what it means to you.

    The whole book was about a quarter the size of what to expect. And it was very laid back. The basic advice was take care of the mom, give her she needs and wants (within reason), don’t freak out. I loved that book.

  12. My memories of What to Expect must be foggy — as I said before, I enjoyed it when I read it while pregnant with my first 2, 19 and 17 years ago. But I’ll take anyone’s word for it that it mongers fear — either it changed in subsequent editions or some of the stuff bounced right off me back then.

    But that bit of scientific irrationality — “If we can’t prove it’s good for you, don’t do it” — should send the book straight to the bin. How did the educated women who right it manage to get through their education in a scientific field while holding such an absurd philosophy?

    Dyeing my hair would probably have been something I skipped while pregnant, had I been in the habit of doing it back then — some of those chemicals are kind of weird. Not because “nobody’s proven it’s good for you,” but because I didn’t consider it important enough to be worth even a small risk to a baby whose body might not tolerate things that I as an adult could comfortably handle. But that’s a personal choice, and the logic in the quote is ludicrous.

  13. “educated women who WROTE it” — not reflecting my own education very well…..:-P

  14. I read this book with my first pregnancy and had an emotional breakdown about eight weeks in because I thought I was having a miscarriage. With this pregnancy, No. 2, I’m definitely letting my friend (who let me borrow the book in the first place) keep that safely in her own home. And by safely, I mean, safe for me.

  15. I stopped reading it when I found myself sitting at the dining room table crying over all of the possible complications of the actual delivery. I was on the cesarian section chapter. I was also worried about all of the things I was supposed to discuss with my doc about my “choices” like whether to have an enema or not. I finally realized that if I trust my doc, he’d let me know what I needed to know. Turns out both kids were natural, no drugs, with labor under 6 hours. I never read about that scenario in the book🙂

  16. I just had my baby last week. Thanks to all of the rules and advise placed unsolicited on pregnant women, I totally feel like I just turned 18 and can now make my own decisions.

    I can have tuna without someone decrying the danger of fish. I can order a coffee without the server asking if I am sure that I don’t want decaf.

    Nice.

    I really feel bad for passing my “what to expect” book along to a girlfriend. I didn’t really read it to closely.

  17. i’m 9w along and I’ve had people suggest that book. I know better. I’ve miscarried twice, ( and people suggested it then, too.)

    I think what may have tipped me off to it’s No Good status was the suggestion I heard from it that one can now reward themselves with a fat free muffin post labor.

    Or the “here’s the perfect diet but it’s SO tough you’ll probably fail”.

    Who needs that sort of crap? I ditched ALL the pregnancy books in the last move and life has been much better for it.

    I did like “how to have a baby and live in the real world” because it was snarky and sarcastic and funny, and didn’t talk down to women. But it went with the other books.

  18. I never read it. My sister-in-law did, and being a very sensitive, impressionable person was so shaken from the descriptions of having a miscarriage she was afraid to use Preparation-H when she needed it. I refused to even crack it. I did stop dying my hair while pregnant, but only because I decided regular pedicures when I couldn’t reach my toes were more important.

  19. love it!!!
    What I’d like to see is a pregnancy book for moms-to-be that just has the baby development info (because I really did enjoy looking at the “what your baby looks like this week” stuff), and none of the preachy nonsense. If I want to know the answer to a medical question, I’ll ask my doctor. Or maybe there is a book like that on the market already. Anybody know?

  20. We ditched the book when it mentioned a bagel as a super-indulgent treat. My wife wondered if any of the writers had actually been pregnant.

    For much better (and shorter) advice, we consulted Vicki Iovine’s “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy.” It’s got some iffy advice in it too, but it’s so self-effacing and funny that you know not to take it too seriously.

    My wife also said it was entirely accurate when Iovine writes that, by the time a woman needs an epidural anaesthetic during delivery, she wouldn’t care if they had to inject it into her eyeball.

  21. I hated that book. I don’t color my hair but I did stop straightening my hair when I was pregnant, although I may have done it once early in pregnancy. The reason had nothing to do with chemicals and everything to do with the inability to sit for 4-5 hours while pregnant. I haven’t had it straightened since for the same reason – if I get 4-5 hours to myself, I don’t want to sit in a salon having my hair ironed.

  22. I skimmed that book when I was pregnant, but it looked lame. Plus I really disIiked its tone. I ended up reading Dr Sears, Sheila Kurtzinger(sp?), and Ina May instead.

  23. I had no problems with that book. It was confusing b/c it gave a lot of contradictory info and there is absolutley no way there can ever be a book that could cover every possible scenario. It didn’t make me afraid, b/c I had sense enough to realize what would work for me and what wasn’t about me.
    I guess my biggest critique is that the book was basically information overload.

  24. Wow! I think that if reading that book made Christine react in such a way to cause her blood pressure to rise I think she’s got other issues than simply disagreeing with generic advice. The book is overloaded with info, but meant more as a way to bring about discussion for your own pregnancy. Deep breaths….

  25. I actually appreciated the book. But I’m also the type who, in my first pregnancy, obsessively watched “Special Delivery” (about high-risk births and all the attendant rare complications) because it made me feel better. I like knowing the worst case scenario, because I know if I can handle that I can handle anything. It takes a weird temperament to be largely immune to the fear-mongering.

    I remember the books starts with a long, hand-wringing discussion of how to choose your practitioner. I already knew I’d be using my trusted family physician, so at that moment I knew not to take the book as seriously as it takes itself.

    I also know that many women with different temperaments (perhaps more reasonable than mine) will find more harm than good in a book like that. On the rare occasion I recommend it, I always include disclaimers.

    And the diet stuff? I had gestational diabetes, and I had to follow a very strict diet. And the one in the book is stricter still. Women should just tear out those pages and recycle them. They’d make good toilet paper, I imagine. They should call the chapter, “How to develop an obsessive-compulsive eating disorder when you’re expecting.”

  26. DEANNE…

    I *highly* recommend ‘A Child Is Born’ by Lennart Nilsson. Almost all in-utero photgraphs. I let someone borrow mine and never got it back!

  27. I also received a hand-me-down of this book. However, I could not read it because the font drove me crazy.

    Obviously, I had bigger problems to deal with than whether my baby would survive a little bit of touching up to my roots.

    I am quite serious in that the font made my head spin.

  28. That comment was SO well written! Christine, if you decide to write a book, I’m buying it!

  29. @ deanne,

    I read a book just like the one you’re describing when I was pregnant with my first. Now that was 14 years ago, so I’m not positive of the title, but it was Your Baby Week by Week or something of that sort. There was some advice stuff, but not overwhelming.

  30. I am a librarian. We have the “What to Expect” books in our collection, but reading this post and these comments, I’d like to purchase some alternatives to add to the collection.

    Have you read any pregnancy books that you would recommend?

  31. Oh, ditto on the rec. for the Nilsson book! It’s amazing!

    My (now nearly 18 year-old) Elder Monster dragged this book around constantly when I was pregnant with Younger Monster. It was very reassuring to him to be able to see what was going on with his little brother.

    No fear mongering, either. Just really cool pics of how things ought to be looking. It’s a fascinating book. You should go look at his website: http://www.lennartnilsson.com/

  32. For everyone that hated that book I would recommend “what not to expect when your expecting” It is hilarious and mocks pretty much everything in the original, while still giving the occasional bit of good advice.

  33. I didn’t mind What to Expect When You’re Expecting as much as others. I did not read it straight through though. I used it as a reference book and only looked up whatever I was experiencing at the time. I completely skipped the food section because I assumed it would not recommend a pint of ice cream a day, which is what I wanted.

    I do remember warning signals going off in my brain when I was reading What to Expect the First Year and read not to go get the mail without my newborn because who knows what terrible things could happen in the minute it takes you to walk to the curb and back. Thank goodness I never slept!!!!

  34. A hint of advice, ladies – set out from Philadelphia for Texas or Oregon in a Connestoga wagon pulled by eight spans of oxen. Realize you are pregnant somewhere around Youngstown. Without seeing an OB/GYN, limit yourself to meals of fire-roasted buffalo hump, strong black coffee, and corn meal, with an occasional shot of corn whiskey when your back hurts while you are going to the stream to get a couple of 3-gallon buckets of water. Walk alongside the oxen whenever riding in the (unsprung) wagon is more than you can bear. Don’t hold more than three pure-lead musket balls in your mouth while reloading your husband’s musket when the local Native Americans cop a ‘tude. Hey, that’s the kind of pre-natal care that made America great.

    Can’t wait to hear the Australian version of this.

  35. Did you know that back in 1969-70 when Life magazine published some of Nilsson’s photography, some jurisdictions arrested store clerks for selling it on grounds of “obscenity”? Under today’s laws, those clerks would probably get on the sex offender registry.

  36. I not only read what to expect, but I ALSO read What to Eat When You’re Expecting. I had already had two miscarriages and a stillborn son and this time I wanted “to do everything right”. I followed the What to Eat diet strictly for the first five months of my pregnancy until my OB referred me to a nutrionist because I wasn’t gaining any weight. The first thing my nurtionist told me to do was get rid of the book and go eat some icecream! I was actually advised to eat a bowl of ice cream every day for the rest of my pregnancy and I was able to finally gain an acceptable ammount of weight and have a big, beautiful, healthy baby girl. (Who was then followed by 3 sisters!) I have not recommended this series of books to anyone! And Deanne I did find two books that had detailed week by week progression of baby development without all of the “preachy nonsense.” I don’t remember now what they were, but there are good books out there!

  37. What I find even more disturbing than the things it lists that are “not proven to be good”, are the things it lists as OK that HAVE BEEN proven to be unhealthy to dangerous.

  38. @Kate at 3:25am: As a doula, I highly second the previous suggestions of Dr. Sears, Ina May Gaskin, and Sheila Kitzinger. I would further add “Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn” by Simkin, Whalley, and Keppler.

  39. @Kate – I personally like The Pregnancy Bible by Joanne Stone and Keith Eddelman. They are doctors at Mt. Sinai in NYC. I found the book very helpful with lots of real pictures and not a lot of fearmongering. There is a very small section in the back that has worst case scenarios, but you can easily skip it. They also include a section on newborn care, which was also a helpful refresher.

  40. Brilliant!

  41. I really enjoyed The Caveman’s Pregnancy Companion. It’s for fathers but it has great advice and the tone is completely different than the mothers’ guides: funny, reassuring and not condescending. Just because I’m pregnant doesn’t mean you get to talk down to me or treat me as a child, dammit.

  42. Oh my stars…in my favorite “Men on Film” (in Living Colour) imitation….”HATED IT!!!”

    That book is thee worst ever. Threw mine away during pg #1.

    Turn off your brain, talk to me like I’m a dingdong, and draw no conclusions…there ya have it…WTEWYE…

    I recently did hear that it actually tumbled out of the NY Times bestseller list (like the top 50) after being there for yyyeeeeeaaarrrrrsssss, so that’s a good thing!

    Ricki Lake’s “Your Best Birth” is the book that should be the new WTEWYE. Much, much better.

    Other than that, anything by Sheila Kitzinger or Ina May Gaskin works really well too.

  43. I ate sushi and drank a little sake. I sat in front of my work computer most of the day. I ate deli meats (organic). I ate as much as I could since I LOST 3 lbs in the first few months due to nausea. I did not limit my calories. I ate whole milk yogurt, whole milk cheese, and yes, drank whole milk. I drank Opta Energy, an organic energy drink with yerba mate (a supposed no-no), but also B2, B6, & B12 (good prenatal vitamins!) – since I couldn’t take my migraine medicine, they were my only saving grace. I did not accept antibiotics for GBS during labor. I struggled through a week of no power after an ice storm, cooking on a woodstove, drinking water out of a camping water container. I took care of myself as best I could when others came to work sick. I ate chocolate. I ate veggies right out of my garden, unwashed! And you know what? My 7 month old son is doing just fine. Those books, Baby Center (US & UK), family, and such all scared me, but I realized I knew what I had to do because I felt my way through- I listened to my body, I listened to my knowledge, I found natural pregnancy sites that made sense, I listened to centuries of women who had given birth before me.

    About the only thing I listened to was to not clean the cat litter- sorry dear, can’t do it, I’m pregnant. 🙂 (Even though the cats slept with us, and well, you know, they do tend to step in it, don’t they?!)

    “No, I won’t want the drugs. Yes, I will balance on a log. Just try to stop me!”- That was my attitude!

  44. I almost forgot- this was actually my favorite book:

    Alternative Therapies for Pregnancy and Birth (Paperback)
    http://www.amazon.com/Alternative-Therapies-Pregnancy-Birth-Thomas/dp/1843337134/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265746935&sr=8-1

    It helped me so much with the emotional as well as physical aspects of being pregnant. It was a bit out of date (mine was from early 2000s I think).

    I also liked this one:

    Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year
    http://www.amazon.com/Wise-Woman-Herbal-Childbearing-Year/dp/0961462000/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265747138&sr=1-1

  45. Hee hee! I remember putting the book down in exasperation when I read the sentence about green tea inducing miscarriages. Please! If this were in any way true the Chinese government need not have instituted the One Child policy. I liked the Girlfriend’s Guide far better.

  46. Leah, my god, you made me howl with your microwave story. thank you.

  47. It’s stories like this that convinced me–and now, convince me that I was right–to avoid What to Expect. I went with the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy and the Panic-Free Pregnancy. I’ve been happy with both, although I stopped referring to them part way through because…well, because I just didn’t think about it.

    Most of the things I’ve avoided are things that I didn’t do that much anyhow. I have never been a big consumer of alcohol, sushi, or luncheon meats. I color my hair every couple of months, and my stylist has adapted her technique a bit, using foils for single-process (this is mostly to make my doctor happy; I’m not that concerned about it myself). I’ve gone back to drinking tea instead of coffee, which I now consume as a treat.

    Mind you, I have no complaints about Mr. Nonymous’s insistence on refilling the gas tank–I’m happy to let him do that!

  48. I didn’t get WTEWYE after skimming it on Amazon and deciding it was too patronizing and not factual enough.

    I got the Mayo Clinic’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, which was fairly factual and not full of fear mongering. Could definitely recommend that book. Didn’t seem preachy at all.

    On the hair coloring, my doctor said there was absolutely no evidence it harmed the baby and that if I was nervous about it then avoid during the first trimester since that’s when the brain and nervous system was most vulnerable but she thought it was fine any time. I didn’t color mine in the first trimester but mainly because I was absolutely wiped out and couldn’t face it!

    I did far too many other things I think were ridiculous with hindsight. That “mindless acts of pointless martyrdom” phrase really hits the nail on the head and applies to motherhood too.

  49. I’ve stuck with my more realistic doctor’s advice when I was first pregnant ages ago:

    Don’t shoot heroin.( or any other street drugs).
    Don’t binge drink.

    ( my doc has a delightful sense of sanity.)

    She laughed and said that the rules now for women and diet in pregnancy were rather absurd, and she herself having 3 children and a great medical practice, I felt she might actually have some insight.

    It was wonderful not to be pandered to. She did say “when you’re that nauseated, the only diet rule I have is “if you’re hungry and it stays down, it’s fair game.”

    I miscarried before and I know now that you could do everything “perfectly” and it doesn’t make a significant difference. A class in genetics and university level biology convinced me that we really don’t have as much control as we’d like.

    And with that in mind, I have opted to carry on, because this time around I’ve been so sick that I was in serious danger of hospitalization.

    I can’t imagine the WTE book doing anything for my sanity. I could borrow it from the library but it would likely get thrown off my 33rd floor balcony, and I don’t want to buy it for fear of encouraging them to print more.

  50. It suggested eating a chewable antacid for dessert?! Whaaaaaaaaat… I nearly spit a mouthful of coffee onto my computer screen at that sentence. Wow!

    A book I really appreciated was “Dream Babies: Childcare Advice from John Locke to Gina Ford” by Christina Hardyment. In between moments of belly-rolling laughter at some of the childcare advice dispensed by crazed practitioners in the past, the book encouraged me that women have been having babies for thousands of years and I could do so as well … without the “experts.” Besides, “expert” advice swings back and forth on a pendulum every 20 years or so.

  51. I also liked “Girlfriends Guide,” and if clear-headed advice from an OB/GYN is what you’re looking for, I highly recommend “The Panic-Free Pregnancy.” The author pretty much debunks the theory you shouldn’t fly early in pregnancy, says bed rest is almost never warranted, and best yet, gives the green light on sushi.

    http://www.amazon.com/Panic-Free-Pregnancy-Separates-Medications-Expecting/dp/0399529896

  52. @jenny — you may like the “Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.” Really simple but thorough, straightforward, and medically sound.

    http://www.amazon.com/Mayo-Clinic-Guide-Healthy-Pregnancy/dp/0060746378

  53. It’s hard. I miscarried twins and had 3 chemical pregnancies before successfully carrying my son. We also spent 3 years and $20k in fertility treatments to get him. So there was certainly a part of me that thought I needed to do everything possible to make sure that he stayed healthy in utero. But the rational (and selfish?) part wound up eating plenty of lunchmeat, drinking a couple of beers, coloring my hair, sleeping on my back, consuming caffiene…just about every single “don’t” in the book(s). I guess I wound up reading the books just so I knew what to feel guilty about when I went ahead and did it anyway.

  54. I love real books with paper and covers, but I cannot imagine buying any pregnancy books if I were to get pregnant. I would just do research online. Much cheaper and I imagine much less likely to result in the kind of annoyance books like this sound like they’d cause.

  55. All I could think when I started reading it (didn’t get very far) was that the lady who wrote this book must be a very neurotic and paranoid person. So much so that she wants to spred her neurotic control freak nature to all the pregnant women of the world.

    I also couldn’t help wonder how opressive she would be as a mom…

  56. I’m glad I was warned off the WTE book and given the Dr. Sears one during my first pregnancy. Much saner, I gather.

    As for internet research, just beware the pregnancy forums. Some of the moms-to-be get pretty crazy about everything. But a good group can be wonderfully supportive.

  57. @kate the librarian.

    I’m a librarian, too. We have an extensive parenting collection, and these are my favorites from that collection:

    Taking Charge of Your Fertility
    Real Food for Mother and Baby
    Pea in a Pod
    Having a Baby, Naturally
    Complete Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Kitzinger
    The Pregnancy Book by Sears
    Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
    Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering
    Permission to Mother
    Big Book of Birth
    The Birth Book/Sears
    Gentle Birth Choices
    Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth (my fav, I think)
    Homebirth in the Hospital
    The Doula Advantage

  58. @ deanne

    From Conception to Birth.

    Beautiful photo essay on the development of a fetus into a baby in the world. My daughter and I pored over that book when she was pregnant, and that was the only book we loaned to her friend when she got pregnant. No preachy, not even any advice. Just beautiful photography, and developmental info.

    I’ll keep that book forever probably. It’ll come in very handy when the grandson starts questioning.

  59. I am 8 weeks pregnant and my husband and I have been enjoying What to Expect When You’re Expected, a wonderful parody of its useless, fearmongering antecedent.

    http://www.amazon.com/What-Expect-When-Youre-Expected/dp/0385526474/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_1

  60. During all three pregnancies I avoided sushi. I LOVE sushi. For whatever reason, I didn’t think of the billions of people in southeast asia…
    I did, however, ignore the book’s suggestion and that of everyone around me regarding hard labor. And by hard labor I mean physical lifting, pushing, etc. I gardened until the day I gave birth. I don’t mean tending the tomatoes. I mean shoveling manure, composting, and squatting. I also spread a truckload of gravel over my driveway. My husband came home from work and it was done. He thought I called my brother and father to come help. I still don’t think he truly believes that I spread a ton of gravel in my 8th month…

  61. Never stopped me from dying my hair. People still think I’m a natural redhead… shhhh….

  62. Wow! The book must have really changed since I read it when I was preganant nearly 17 years ago. (echo pentamom)

    Granted, I was 19, alone and without a clue and it was available in the student union. I found it very helpful. I don’t remember any fearmongering tidbits and I pretty much laughed at the food suggestions. I started reading What to Expect the First Year and made it most the way until I was too busy chasing baby to read. As far as what not to do: I didn’t drink or smoke, but keep thee away from my coffee. And I didn’t need a book on those.

    The one that got to me the most was the one I read about breastfeeding. It was militant about NO SUGAR WATER!!! So, when my son had to go to the hospital with jaundice when he was a week old, after a few days under the lights they said he just needed to poop and he’d be able to leave. My mom had finally made it to visit and help for a little bit (she was moving from Seattle to San Diego the day I delivered in Oklahoma) and she kept going on about how she’d give me a little Karo syrup & water when I was constipated as a baby. That book had me petrified of sugar water! It was bad enough that he was having to take soy formula from a bottle–horror of horrors–but no, one drop of sugar water and he’d never take a breast again. One night while I was asleep, Ma and a nurse slipped him a little and by morning he made the biggest, stinkiest poo you ever saw come out of such a little thing. Later that day we got to go home. It took us about a week to get the hang of breast feeding when he first came home from the hospital, and it took about a week again after we got home again. Lo and behold, he wasn’t ruined.

    By the way, the breastfeeding book did say it was OK to have a drink now and again, just not too much. It even suggested it could be helpful to relax the mother (and baby).

  63. I will soon be adopting a baby girl, and was kicking myself for throwing out my whole series of WTE books. Thanks for reminding me that I always ignored most of the advice in them.

  64. I got annoyed with that book because it said no herbal tea. I have read many herbal books. There are herbal preparations and then there is Celestial Seasons – which is mostly there for flavor.
    I TRULY want to know if pregnant Japanese women eat sashimi. I know that European women drink during pregnancy. I have heard in Britain, they are told to have 1 beer a night for relaxation and health benefits (local beer is very good).

    I think seafood, meat cooked rare, blue cheeses! and all those other things are too cautious, but they are trying to advise you to avoid food borne illness. I wish they would have gone about it as though we can still think. When I have conversations with people, I put it like this: eat what you want, just don’t get sick.

    I never officially had pre-eclampsia with my 3 pregnancies, but I struggled with early symptoms. I bought this eBook http://www.blueribbonbaby.org/ and followed the diet. I found it very helpful. It might have made all the difference.

    My children were born between 2000-2005. The hospital was very good about following our instructions: supporting breastfeeding, no pacifiers, no circumcision, etc… It took me 1 month to get the hang of breastfeeding with the first one. I had attended a breastfeeding class while pregnant and I was DETERMINED. We had a wonderful nursing relationship. The other two kids took to it immediately. I was still in c-section recovery with #3. The baby was so hungry the nurse insisted I feed her while still in post-op. It was fine my me!
    @Kate, I’ve read a number of those books!

  65. Do we have any evidence that reading and following the advice in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is GOOD for a fetus? HMMMM?

    A followed the advice of my doc for things like diet, caffeine and OTC medications. Advice books and the internet were secondary. I heard WTEWYE was ridiculous and never touched it.

  66. One person mentioned that after reading the book they just knew what they should feel guilty about when they decided to go ahead and do it anyway. I totally agree!

    I love eating uncooked European Weiners which are smoked. They taste wonderful! But my husband reminded me that I shouldn’t eat any anymore because every time I do I worry for quite a while that some lysteria type creature has crawled into my baby’s brain and I’m going to have a miscarriage. I think ignorance (to some extent) really is bliss when it comes to food and pregnancy.

    Hahaha, I also thought I might have a cyst in one of my ovaries and went to the ER…the dr. finally told me that my ovaries had actually shifted to much higher up and that what I was feeling was round ligament pain – good old round ligaments!

    If you’re a person who over-reacts or tends to feel guilty even when you’ve weighed the pros and cons of something and made what you felt was a good decision, you should most likely skip this book!

  67. You know, I had the book – looked through it – got bored with it, and picked up a biology book that was far more interesting for me since it had actual pictures and facts about fetal development.

    Sure, I didn’t drink – but I ate the holy mess out of food, gained weight, got post-partum, called up my doc who said my baby wouldn’t die from crying (thank god for common sense) – told me lay her in the crib – go put myself in a room – cry it out and suck it up, got to working out, got myself back after many years, ended up with a brilliant kid (two of them) who I love very much and we’re all still alive and well. (Not to mention I still have a sweet tooth, but in moderation!)

    The point of the above? In this capitalistic society, there will always be someone trying to make a buck off of the wants of people by turning them into needs. Pregnant women want to know what to expect – thus, you NEED this book to tell you that. Pregnant women buy it, and buy into it… all without noticing that just a touch of common sense would enable them to brush it off and move along.

    Yep, I “needed” it too… but after sitting with it for a bit… I was cured.

    As an aside… the author recently died. So I don’t know who is getting the money from sales now.

  68. I can only recommend old-pregnancy books. I got one from my mother-in-law (I was hers when she was pregnant). The book was written in 1959 (before pampers, before some shots, when most baby-food was very limited and most had to be made at home…)

    That kind of books is a wonderful contrast to moder books like above.

  69. @ kate the librarian~
    librarian kate 2 has a great list! i would also add pam england’s birthing from wthing and janet balaskas’ active birth to her list. you could probably also add jennifer block’s pushed, ricki lake’s/abby epstein’s your best birth and michel odent’s birth reborn.
    and yeah, WTE is nothing but crap. my recommendation is usually to put that one directly into the closest recycling bin.

  70. ugh, typo~ that should be “pam england’s birthing from *within*” (and if anyone asks, they can just skip over the birth art section unless it’s something they are drawn to exploring).

  71. You can add the ‘What to expect the first year” and “What to expect the toddler years” to the pyre as well. Those things drove half the moms in my playgroup nuts with worry because their child wasn’t progressing exactly like the book. Oy.

  72. I read the book through my frist pregnancy 13 years ago. It ended up scaring me about the delivery. I was so scared to go into labor that I would lay in bed and cry for hours. Now, that cannot have been good for the baby. When I told my obgyn about it (oh, what a wise man!!), he laughed and said to stop reading these books. I never picked up the book again, easily delivered a healthy boy and didn’t open up the book once during my second pregnancy. Thank god!!

  73. Re: “Birthing From Within”- I loved the concept, but it actually made me more anxious, at least in the third trimester. I wanted to have that perfectly “aware”, spiritual, ecstatic experience of a birth that they described and became anxious to think IT MIGHT NOT HAPPEN! I might have to give up on my “ideal” birth plan, give in to one medication and let it spiral out of control. It did however get me to calm down during the second trimester, relax, let go of the information overload I was creating by looking up every little detail (“common discomforts” were my big need-to-know topic). This article was especially great:

    Information versus Awareness, By Pam England, August 2007
    http://www.birthingfromwithin.com/information

    (Actually, the BFW site was a good return-to-center site for me to visit.) In the end it all just “happened”- the birth bundle I created never left our backpack, we never played the music I selected, I didn’t meditate on a beautiful visualization I had dreamed up- there was a spiral, some chaotic energy, but it all worked toward a drug-free birth, full of good adrenaline that I was riding for days!

  74. You know, I don’t think I’ve heard of the “don’t lay on your back” rule until these forums. I finally looked it up and saw why (primarily discomfort to the mother, but also the chance of decreasing circulation to both the mother and the baby, and for good reason, there’s a lot of weight there toward the end), but it didn’t make any sense to me. What position are you in for your ultrasounds? And what about labor, in general? Oh that’s right, on your back… And I don’t know about anyone else, but my “big ultrasound” (which was actually like three ultrasounds because the baby wouldn’t cooperate for the camera) lasted an hour. And while sleeping, people tend to shift positions when they get uncomfortable, and I would assume one would be uncomfortable when something on the list of “things that could happen” does happen. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve found the vessels into the uterus to be huge. I could take my pulse just by touching the bottom of my ribcage.

    As for places for advice, my doctor’s little booklet (which has basic Yoga stuff, in addition to a “do not eat” list), combined with a previous miscarriage, has made me neurotic enough, so I stick with WebMD when I want to look stuff up. Even their community is supportive and not generally fearmongering. Other than that, though, I’ve been following my own body. I learned a long time ago that I know my body and I know what it does when it needs something (leg cramps? Potassium!) and when something’s wrong. I still try to stick to the food guides regarding what to avoid, but I find out how much is too much of something (for example, you can actually have something like 3-6oz of canned light tuna a week, or have up to 200mg of caffeine a day without it being “too much”), and give in to the cravings for tuna (the only fish I’ll eat) and the Dr. Pepper at lunch.

  75. The guy (Jim?) who wrote about hopping a wagon to Texas? Brilliant– best post ever.

    I *HATED* all the rules with my first pregnancy. I felt like everyone else owned me. Therefore, I was stressed out and hated pregnancy. This is my second (21 weeks), and I’ve decided to throw caution to the wind. I drink wine (not a lot, but one glass is plenty satisfying to both my mouth and my sense of rebellion) I don’t pay attention to how I sleep, and I had coffee and a bagel with smoked salmon cream cheese for breakfast. It was divine. Wouldn’t you know? I am relaxed and loving pregnancy this time around. AND gaining less weight than last time!! I feel fantastic!

    I owe a LOT of this attitude to the original comments thread on this subject back in December. I was flying high with relief after I read that. Thank you all so much.

  76. @ erica – if you ever find yourself in Houston I’ve got a few yards of horse poop and rice hulls (not to mention a wheelbarrow and a shovel) I could use a hand with. I can think of several community garden projects that would kill for a fund-raising photo of a very pregnant woman with a pitchfork who is Out Standing In Her Field.

  77. I always ignore advice from “experts” these days, especially since I have some knowledge of human biology. Not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I know enough. I have fun listening to women talk about what they need when pregnant because it’s almost always so out there I wonder how these women carried to term at all.

    @ RadiantLux
    Don’t know if this helps you or not, but my host mom in Kumamoto ate sashimi with both her children. She has a now-teenaged son who is very smart, and the most adorable daughter you could ever hope to see.

    The only food you need to avoid during pregnancy is any food that will give you food-borne illnesses. Basically it’s undercooked or unclean meats. Sushi and sashimi is fine because the fish is always cleaned before preparation, and most direct supermarket fish is fine for it to begin with (learned this on a shopping trip with some Asian friends). Tobacco isn’t good for fetuses, and anything more than moderate alcohol consumption can be bad, as well. This isn’t gleaned from a book, this is basic biology here.

    I once heard from a friend that the best advice she received while pregnant was “you’re sharing your body for nine months, so you’ll have to share your nutrients. Stop the worst habits and otherwise quit worrying.”

  78. @stephanie, don’t think you’re homefree of the fear mongers after you give birth! The woman in the post office saw me with my baby drinking coffee and she flipped out. “ARE YOU BREASTFEEDING??? YOU KNOW THAT GOES RIGHT THROUGH YOUR BREASTMILK!!!” I told her that I just wanted to make the 6-month-old more effective at collating, but she didn’t understand.

  79. I totally agree. With both my pregnancies I ate sushi, had a bit of wine a week, ate lunch meat, dyed my hair had soda. I even took cold medicine when sick. On my first appointment with each my doctor told me it should be more about what you do eat and do than what you don’t. Eat healthy get in some exercise and take your prenatals. She never gave me this laundry list of all these things you can’t do. (With the exception of smoking, that was a no no, but I don’t anyway) I get so sick of people saying “Can you have that” while I am pregnant.” Or hearing a woman on line freak out that she had some blue cheese dressing on her salad.

  80. I’m beginning to think a lot of this is about temperament, or about how much confidence and knowledge you have BEFORE you pick up the book.

    If you aren’t easily emotionally upset or influenced by things you read, (and I’m not implying that’s a weakness if you are, it could be a strength, indicating sensitivity or something along those lines) then maybe a book like this doesn’t bug you so much, even if you look at parts of it, and go “Pssssst.” Or, if you come at it with a generally positive and confident attitude about pregnancy and birth, but are just looking for some info, you might find it useful without some of the more “dramatic” information and advice scaring you or driving you crazy. I know in my case, I was surrounded at the time by realistic, confident moms just a little older and more experienced than I, and I guess i picked up from them that having a baby was a big deal, but not something beyond the ken of normal humans and fraught with pitfalls at every turn.

    That doesn’t justify the over the top tone and advice of the book, but it might just explain why some people find it useful despite that.

  81. My favorite pregnancy book, by far, was “From the Hips”, by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris. It’s the only book I found that gave you information, but also gave you voices of real men and women, and it questioned (and allowed you to question) all of the expert advice, on all sides of the parenting philosophy spectrum.

    Frankly, I found the Dr. Sears et al attachment parenting books more insidious that WTE in many ways. Although WTE was fear mongering, it was easy to see right through it. Many of the attachment parenting books scare you in the other direction–if you don’t have a natural birth (and actually want an epidural), if you don’t sleep with your baby, if you don’t want to wear your baby every second of the day, then you are not a “natural” good parent, and your kid will never be securely attached. I actually did a lot of attachment parenting things, but I was so turned off by the dogmatic, self-righteous rhetoric. I’m turned off by dogmatic, fundamentalist thinking on all sides–real mothering is much more complicated.

  82. wow… I’m just 21 and i have no kids…i’m not even married yet. and still i stumbled upon your website and can’t stop reading it.
    I think i am the generation between yours and your kids’. I grew up under strict protective eyes and went to college and found myself all alone in the world i was protected from all my life. i wish my parents would’ve considered giving me more freedom as a child. i would’ve known better how to face the problem i had later on. i had to learn the hard way. And ever since, and even now, i promise myself to teach my kid different. to give him/her the possibility of choice, the freedom of speech and action, within reasonable levels.
    And all the people who comment here! my god! i didn’t know there are so many people out there who can think outside the box. I didn’t grow up in New York or any other large city of the world. I grew up in a small town in Romania and had the world at my feet. Until i stepped outside the glass box and saw that dangers can be prevented or treated. Dangers do exacts. Things MAY happen. But as long as your education and your knowledge of the world is solid, yes, you can make it.
    So i totally support the free range kids/parents and i promise i’ll be following your articles.

  83. LOL. On a light note, I had a friend who decided to be totally “y the book” during her first pregnancy. When I visited her after her second daughter was born and noticed that she was (gasp!) drinking a glass of wine with dinner even though she was breast-feeding, I asked (politely) if her thinking on these sorts of issues had changed. She laughed and said, “Well, we looked at how that one turned out (gestures at first daughter) and figured it wasn’t worth the trouble!” (Disclaimer … said friend and her husband of course adore and care for both their daughters!)

  84. @Blake- you said, “and most direct supermarket fish is fine for it to begin with (learned this on a shopping trip with some Asian friends).” A friend of ours who has lived in Japan for a number of years informed us that this is true over there, as they have strict guidelines for meats, which is why eating raw beef was a delicacy my husband tried during his visit. But this may not necessarily be the case here in the US, depending on several factors- the farm where it was raised, the way it was slaughtered, the way it was packaged, how it was shipped, how it was stored when it arrived at the supermarket, and so on. As long as you trust all steps along the way, I say go for it! Just know the sources.

    As for where you get your information from, books and websites aside, I think the people we encounter during pregnancy can be just as stress-inducing or just as relaxing. Yes, give me the truth, but don’t try to scare me. (I’m thinking of a probably well-meaning relative who stressed, “You’ll want the drugs, trust me- take the drugs!”)

  85. I read it when I was pregnant a few years ago but I also read EVERYTHING I could get my hands on. I felt I was pretty knowledgeable about the whole situation anyway (and even if I wasn’t, I figured I’d make it through since women had been having babies before books, you know) but I always like to learn more. What to Expect didn’t drive me too, too crazy, but I also just ignored anything that sounded ridiculous to me. I think that my pregnant mind set was very close to how my parenting mind set has turned out to be– relax, take all info with a grain of salt, and do what feels like it will work best for me and my family, even if it wasn’t necessarily the best solution for someone else.

  86. I think WTE has taken this one out in the latest edition, but my personal RME favorite was in the diet section: “Once in a while you can have something terribly wicked like a pudding pop or a piece of cake.” Yeesh. I’m amazed that we’ve managed to keep the species going without such sage advice

  87. This is sooooo well written! So funny!

    I didn’t like WTE very much-instant anxiety. Dr. Spock is really quite good…his main mantra is to trust yourself.

  88. I really disliked the WEWE book the couple of times I picked it up at friends’ homes (way before my pregnancy). It was preachy and un-necessarily paranoid and condescending. Bleah.

    As other people have mentioned, the Mayo Clinic Guide is a good one– factual information without all emoting and guilt-tripping.

    As for pregnancy diets, my experience was probably really unusual. I went diabetic at 12 weeks. They gave me a diet sheet and glyburide. The sugars still weren’t in the range described, so I started cutting more carbs. I think my eating regimen probably was even more strict than the book’s.

    As far as describing risks, the Mayo Guide DIDN’T have any real information on some of the complications I was facing. Probably for the best. I was able to keep walking until the day I delivered though, and avoided the total-bedrest-in-hospital that pre-eclampysia can get you sentenced to.

    Thankfully, I discovered once my son arrived that Hagen Daas is a great way to boost your milk production!

    If you are having a normal pregnancy– relax & enjoy! For those of us who experience high risk & complications, please try to do this as much as possible as well!

  89. The irrational fear factor that turns sane people into irrational helicopter parents is the same “irrational” fear factor that turns supposedly “educated” women into basketcases of inadequecy when it comes to pregnancy.

    You think, “there’s got to be more to it than this! Surely it can’t be as easy (or as difficult) as mom said, or as grand-mom said. Surely I must be missing something!

  90. It is funny how today we seem to forget that pregnancy is NOT a disease or a handicap that needs treatment by a doctor, but in most cases a perfectly normal biological process that women has gone through for many many generations, and as some have mentioned we (humans) are still here

  91. My reaction to Dr. Sears was pretty similar to Rachel’s…the tone completely turned me off, even though I think some of the information is (probably) pretty good. That book got tossed down the hall and eventually recycled. Being already neurotic, it just made me more paranoid (especially the stuff about working).

    I’m generally pretty quiet about that particular opinion, since I seem to live in one of the World Heritage Sites for Attachment Parenting. I meet people who simply cannot believe that Edna Junior couldn’t stand being “worn” (is there a more loaded verb?) or that she’s never had an ear infection even though I fed her some formula.

  92. @EdnaKay–Perhaps we live in the same place… I keep pretty quiet around here about my attachment parenting opinions. I even felt paranoid enough before commenting this time to change my pseudonym on this blog!

  93. I tend to not dye my hair during pregnancy, the chemicals are hard for me to take even if I am not, my husband would be convinced that the baby got brain damage from it until it was born.

    I do use Manic Panic right now, its natural except for man made bee’s wax. (They wanted to be able to call it vegan friendly, I’d rather natural bee’s wax hahaha) Granted not all “natural” things are safe… like arsenic, but it is a very mild dye.

    I have pretty much decided to stop going to my diabetic counseling sessions because this is my 4th pregnancy and all GI ever does to me is make me fat. All of my children have been on the small side of “normal”, and I have no kidney damage what so ever. I am not a typical case, would not suggest that anyone else do the same, but after so much previous experience I feel comfortable doing so. Besides which the diet aspect makes me so stressed out and cranky.

    My body seems naturally inclined to gain 30+ pounds and I always lose it so it does not seem worth it to get all worked up.

  94. Attachment Parenting…

    My husband and I actually do this; for infants. I feel that baby wearing, breast feeding and baby wearing are natural inclinations. However, with each milestone they are “weaned” from something old and given something new.

    They get to free ride until they are crawling, they are breastfed until they can handle enough solid food to not need it (with ours this is only about ten months, they are only too happy to eat.) and we are in the process of kicking them out of bed now. They start off in their own and join us later in the morning when they wake up. They are still pretty young, oldest co-sleeper being two and a half. The twelve year old gets to walk to school/library/gamestore and home again all by himself, even though he has Asperger’s Syndrome.

  95. I freakin hate that book too. Do you remember in the diet section how they keep recommending “juice-sweetened muffins?” Does anyone even make those?

  96. The even more pernicious cousin of “there’s no proof that [insert luxury here] is good for the baby, so don’t do it” is, “do you really need to treat your [insert medical condition here] – isn’t your baby more important?” This is especially true when it comes to mental health. The additive risk from taking an anti-depressant is very small. Since most women conclude (often because of societal pressure) that any risk, no matter how small is not worth the health of their baby, many stop taking their antidepressants. Some end up on lockdown psych wards. All of the women that relapse because they stopped antidepressants end up with their babies swimming in stress hormones released by their unhappy moms. There’s a whole slew of problems that are associated with children born of depressed mothers. Yet somehow, this information is thrown out the window in the irrational quest to keep one’s pregnant body pure. WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE MOTHER’S HEALTH IS GOOD FOR THE FETUS’S HEALTH. I’ve taken antidepressants for years, and I’ve been in remission for years. I had long discussions with my psychiatrist, and we concluded that it was in my best interests to stay on the medication (past attempts to stop weren’t terribly successful). I had an ER doc basically accuse me of child abuse for knowingly taking such poison, without even asking how severe my untreated illness was. Maddening.

  97. @Leppi– there is a d*mn good reason for Western obstetrics– it is NOW unusual for 1 out of 3 women to die in childbirth. Infant mortality rates are also nowhere near the levels they were even 60 years ago.

    No one here is saying pregnancy is a disease. If you read the comments for this article carefully, you’d see that many of us have already suffered miscarriages. I have know women who have almost died and *have* died because of complications of this ‘normal biological process. I personally would have died if not for good obstetrics care and C-sections. I have a healthy, happy child and am here to raise my child. Your dismissal of medicine is uninformed and dangerous. Normal does NOT mean low-risk.

    Thank you, Western medicine!!

  98. “WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE MOTHER’S HEALTH IS GOOD FOR THE FETUS’S HEALTH”

    Of course this isn’t 100% absolute, like anything, but it’s more true than people realize. Look, people, when sinus irritation aggravated my morning sickness, or when my morning sickness got so bad I was in danger of severe dehydration, of course I took sinus meds or anti-nausea meds. Is my not eating or getting dehydrated supposed to be better for the baby than a tiny amount of decongestant or anti-spasmodic? I don’t THINK so! It’s reasonable to be a little more conservative about taking meds and maybe forgoing a pain reliever you might otherwise take — but it’s not reasonable to wreck your health to keep your baby healthy.

  99. True, dehazho, but there’s a distinction. A healthy pregnancy is not a disease, and an uncomplicated delivery is not dangerous. Too often the whole process does get treated like a disease or a danger, when what should be treated is specific diseases or dangers that arise. Just like childhood is not a disease, but we monitor children’s health and treat their diseases and injuries, pregnancy is not a disease, but it should be monitored and actual diseases treated.

  100. Sorry, I misspelled your moniker.

  101. I’m glad someone brought up the book’s insane suggestion of all treats being “juice sweetened.” Everything from muffins to cookies to ice cream. What the hell is so superior about the sugar found in juice?

  102. I very much enjoyed Jenny McCarthy’s pregnancy and post-pregnancy books, Belly Laughs and Baby Laughs. They were very “real” in that she spells out exactly what she experienced and how it relates to a “normal” pregnancy.

    I read a bit of What to Expect when my sister in law was pregnant (years before I ever had a baby), and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to read any of it with a straight face if and when I decided to have one.

  103. @EdnaKay and @Rachel, LOL. I was reading Sears on parenting after my son’s birth, in the stage where I was still very sleep-deprived, and got to the point where he writes words to the effect of, “[Sure, you could let a swing hold and rock your baby, by why would you do that when you can do it yourself?]” and I looked at my son, who at that moment was, in fact, happily in a swing, thought, “Gee, I don’t know, maybe so I won’t go stark raving mad and hurt somebody?” After that, Sears kind of lost me, though I do think there’s a lot of good (as well as patronizing) information in the Sears books.

    I keep wondering whether if Dr. Sears predeceases Mrs. Sears, there will be a tell-all rejoinder published …

  104. I should also mention that my mom, who lived across the country from her mother when I was born, relied heavily on Dr. Spock. Guess what edition of his book I found on eBay! It worked for her–my brother and I turned out just fine, thanks–and although Mr. Nonymous and I are going to have Little Girl sleep on her back, I don’t see why quite a bit of the guidance shouldn’t hold true.

    (My dad sent me a new edition–I find its organization confusing, although I’m reading it as well as the older version.)

  105. […] Throwing “What to Expect” Across the Room Hi Readers — I just loved this comment to the “Driven Crazy by Pregnancy Perfectionists” post. And […] […]

  106. Hear, hear. It’s not got quite so bad in the UK as I hear it has the US, but I am infuriated by the attitudes to alcohol and pregnancy. Yes, it’s not wise to be downing several pints a day while carrying a baby, but the guidelines here are now that you shouldn’t drink at all during pregnancy. Is that because a drink now and then will irrevocably harm your baby? No… it’s because the government doesn’t trust me not to drink myself into oblivion if I taste a drop, so I’d better not tempt myself, seeing as I’m presumably a drunkard in denial.

    It pissed me off so much that I think the few drinks I did have during pregnancy (I didn’t fancy alcohol very much while pregnant and am a very light drinker anyway) were partly done out of sheer determination to cock a snook at government types telling me that I couldn’t be trusted to drink in moderation. Yes, I went forth a drunk even from those bottles that now have a silhouette of a pregnant woman with a wineglass with a red line through her. Evidently pregnant woman are illiterate as well as alcoholic.

  107. dahozho — While I do agree that Leppi’s view is a little extreme, I also think your’s is, as well.

    Maternal mortality has gone down, yes, but infant mortality and miscarriage rate in the United States is actually more on par with 3rd world countries than our fellow 1st world countries. Also, where are you getting a one-in-three rate for maternal mortality? According to the WHO, the maternal mortality rate even in sub-Saharan Africa is 1 in 16.

    The United States is also well known for going overboard when it comes to medical intervention in pregnancy and delivery. The C-Section rate in this country is 30%+, well above WHO recommendations for population ideals of 10-15% (that is, the threshold where choosing C-Section over other means of delivery/intervention is either unnecessary, or does more harm than good).

    There are times when a C-Section is needed, such as your case, but 1 in 3 women is not indicative of such cases under normal circumstances.

    No, pregnancy isn’t an easy trip for all women, but neither is it necessarily a life-threatening condition for all women. Going to either extreme is disingenuous.

  108. So, does anyone else think that this whole “you couldn’t POSSIBLY do it by yourself, here’s some advice from an expert, and by the way, your parents raised you totally wrong, so don’t trust them” is driven more by market forces? I’m not well read on attachment parenting, ect, but I’m willing to bet that Dr. Sears ain’t the first person to do it. If you’re doing alright, thank you very much, things are fine, you’re not buying a mini-reference section from Amazon.

  109. Oh, and Claudia, I have a question… when you say Government types, does that mean your doctor? I’m just curious how health mandates work in the UK. If the government says that “x, y or z” is bad, does that mean that doctors can’t contradict? P.S…. I still think no one here should have to wait until they need a trip to the ER to see a doctor.

  110. PartyPiper – I agree that market forces are a big driver. I think also the move towards nuclear families didn’t help much either. But it’s also true that we have learned a lot about human development in the last hundred years and I don’t think it’s unreasonable that some parents think there might be something new they don’t know. What bothers me most about most of these books is that they’re just someone’s opinion backed (if at all) by selective or poorly designed studies.

    On the British Dr. thing – The General Practitioners (GPs) people see are self employed contractors. The advice they give is not bound by government policy though the treatment they can offer under the NHS is (people in the UK can go private too and most doctors also do private work). GPs answer to the General Medical Council (independent of government and similar to a medical board in the US) in terms of whether the advice and treatment they give is medically acceptable. However, I have found that doctors tend to stick to the script unless you press them.

  111. To reply to Piper – no, it’s not that docs can’t contradict, but what government says becomes the orthodoxy.

    Many docs will be happy to tell you not to worry about blue cheese or the odd glass of wine… others will toe the line.

    Sadly, I suspect there’s also a class element – a middle class mum may be trusted by docs to ‘behave nicely’, while a poor, young mum might get the full lecture.

  112. I read the WTE books for my first and took them with a lot of salt…more than recommended I’m sure. It DID do me a big favor of viewing food as a necessary fuel to nourish my child and myself with the motivation to choose as many “good” things as I could–like banking away a big ol’ savings account of vitamins and minerals–rather than my usual view of food as a necessary part of the day but don’t indulge in anything and the focus mostly on counting calories/fat without thinking about what my body may need (iron, potassium, etc).

    That said, in my 2nd pregnancy now I have only referenced it once or twice, usually when I realize I’m feeling run down and need some more iron-rich foods and want a list of decent sources, for example. Not so much for a list of do’s and don’ts.

    For those wanting a simple developmental guide, I loved Julie Carr’s “the making of a miracle” calendars. It’s a desktop daily calendar marked by week/day with insights about average size, current developments in organ development, etc. I loaned it out after my first pregnancy and couldn’t find it back for this one and bought a new one immediately–it’s the only one I really want. I know not to get drunk, I don’t smoke, and if I have a question I look it up…but I like the daily “peek” into development while I take my prenatal.

  113. I have to chime in with a book recommendation… I absolutely loved “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer”. Full of – gasp! – commonsense, useful advice. It was most helpful for those first few months of crazed sleep deprivation. I credit the authors with saving me from committing infanticide. (Not really, of course!…well, maybe a little.)

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=baby+whisperer&x=0&y=0

  114. “nfant mortality and miscarriage rate in the United States is actually more on par with 3rd world countries than our fellow 1st world countries.”

    Only because the US counts many infants that don’t survive as live births (and deaths), which other countries count as miscarriages. Also, more premature infants are born and survive in the US than in other countries (where they’re not included in the statistics.

    “The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a live birth as any born human being who demonstrates independent signs of life, including breathing, voluntary muscle movement, or heartbeat. Many countries, however, including certain European states and Japan, only count as live births cases where an infant breathes at birth, which makes their reported IMR numbers somewhat lower and raises their rates of perinatal mortality.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infant_mortality#Comparing_infant_mortality_rates

  115. It might be one of the STUPIDEST books to ever hit a bookself. I mean, HONESTLY, yes, let’s scare women. Let’s terrify them until they go to the ER for heartburn.

    I didn’t throw “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” across the room, but I certainly did THROW “What to Expect: Toddler Years” across the room. I think it was the phrasing about how I “should have stopped nursing by 12 months.” Eff you, WtE: Toddler Years.

    I don’t think I could possibly scream enough obscenities at those authors.

  116. Oh, don’t throw the WTE Toddler years too far. I, too, found their weaning advice over the top (says the woman who is still nursing her almost 3 year old!).

    But I actually found so much of the toddler stuff, aside from nursing and bedsharing, to be really toddler-respectful.

    I second (third?) the reco for Panic free Pregnancy. That book saved my sanity.

  117. I did read the book. It didn’t scare me so much, but i really just wanted the what your baby looks like this week stuff. I don’t think that pregnant women need a book to tell them what is and isn’t okay for them to do during pregnancy. We do have some natural instincts!

    I also had a patient (I worked for a chiropractor at the time) tell me that i wasn’t suppossed to be drinking coffee. I told him i could do whatever the hell i wanted, it was my baby and my body. I didn’t think a cup of coffee a day would cause harm to my child, and that he could keep his advice to himself unless he was my obgyn! I was pretty much screaming at him.(ahhh hormones!)
    He wished he would have kept his mouth shut.
    Everyone thinks that they are experts on what pregnant women can and can’t do!

  118. I love my OB GYN, she actually told me to completely avoid reading or buying that book because it is completely alarmist and then recommended a few books that wouldn’t have me calling her freaking out 6 times a week. I’m happy to say, I’m having a totally relaxed pregnancy and it’s my first.

    Also, I got my hair dyed when I was about 13 weeks pregnant. Booyah!

  119. I would like to use the lady incurlers on my forthcoming book. Need a high resolution picture. How can I obtain this image?? Bernard Bushelll BFGRE@AOL.COM
    212 752 9090

  120. I HATED that book with a passion. I call it the, “EVERYTHING THAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG WITH YOUR PREGNANCY…and why you’ll never be a good enough Mom,” book. I tossed it aside in favor of, “Your Pregnancy Week by Week.”

    I had hyperemesis when I was pregnant. The only things that settled my stomach for even a little bit were pizza, red meat, and fully caffeinated Pepsi. My son is perfectly healthy.

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