Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Reading Pushed, Jennifer Block

Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care
Jennifer Block (2007)
Hardback $26.00
316 pages
DeCapo/LifeLong/Perseus Book Group

It's no secret that the modern maternity care system needs a major, complete overhaul. But will we get it? Will it ever happen in this society that generally views birth as 'medical' , 'something to be treated' and not as a 'natural occurrence'?
How can we repair a system that is so detrimental to women and children? How did birth get this way?

These are a few of the many penetrating questions Block poses to the reader throughout the book.
She has made this subject accessible with incredible wry wit, thorough research and compelling narrative.
This is a book every woman needs to read. If you are a woman who has given birth, even contemplating birth and pregnancy, you need to read this.

I have whipped through this thing. It's been hard to put down, admittedly. While reading this, I got a lot of looks-looks that said 'Why are you reading that?' I got the same looks when I was reading Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer, by Susan Brownlee. I like to dig under the surface.

There are some crazy situations going on in between the cover of this book and behind the doors of hospitals. As I said in my review of Overtreated by Susan Brownlee, you need a strong stomach for a book such as this. Not only that, be prepared to become quite agitated, and thoroughly informed.

Something I found interesting (among a hundred other things) was the point that since OB’s simply won’t attend breech births-mainly for liability reasons: they don’t want to get sued if something goes wrong-the mothers are going to the midwives, who are then, consequently, surpassing the medical OB’s knowledge of breech births.

How’s that for irony?

One of the parts that gets me agitated is toward the end where Block is talking about the women who ended up tangled in the court system (and for some, jail!) for not agreeing to a cesarean in the hospital or ‘endangering’ their unborn fetus by doing a home birth, etc. That is irresponsible on the behalf of the hospital.

One big vicious cycle, it is, modern obstetrics.

Something else that struck me, and I admit, something that never occurred to me, is when Block is talking to the various midwives and one of them brings up abortion and birth choice-how NOW and all the other women's rights groups are all about abortion, but don't touch the issue of birth choice and the rights a mother has while pregnant, in labor and in the hospital/at home.

Hospitals used to be houses for the dead and dying-medical advances have turned this around so that they are viewed as houses of healing.

What needs to be done so that the process of birth is viewed as a normal occurrence and not that of 'something to be fixed'? The 'view' needs to change somehow.

Next on my list? Probably Born In the U. S.A. : How A Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed To Put Women and Children First, Marsden Wagner

Jennifer Block's website

Pushed, the blog


  1. i started reading pushed a few months ago and loved it, but had to return it to the library before i was done with it. i'm eagerly awaiting my amazon shipment now so i can finish it up. i agree that it should be required reading of ALL women.

    i don't know if you've heard about waterbirth international's financial crisis, but i thought you might be interested. i wrote about it today:
    Waterbirth International needs help to stay afloat

    thanks! looking forward to reading more on your blog. :)

    1. Did you ever get around to reading the book?