Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong and What You Really Need to Know and Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy

Monday, February 18, 2019


Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong and What You Really Need to Know
Emily Oster, 2013, 2016

Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy
Angela Garbes, 2018

So, as you can probably guess, I have a good reason for letting this blog go semi-dark. We’ll see how much content I post going forward, especially once the new little one is due in June.

In the meantime, I didn’t mean to completely stop posting, I just fell out of the habit.

I’ve (naturally) been reading up on my current state, and here are the two books I liked the most so far.

Expecting Better is a great book that risks being dated rather quickly. It’s by a journalist who took it upon herself to understand as much of the current research around getting and being pregnant as she could. Interspersed with anecdotes from her own pregnancy, she provides grounded recommendations. More than that, the book shares rational advice based on the actual science that supports (or doesn’t support) commonly held recommendations. The whole idea is to give the reader all the information so you don’t have to trust a voice of authority blindly, but instead make your own risk assessments and behavior choices based on actual statistics.

I say that this book could be dated quickly because it is so grounded in the latest research. As time marches on, that body of research will only continue to grow and change. However, there is a new update that is either coming out or out already for 2019, so maybe it will keep up for a while.

I was hoping that Like a Mother would be similar, just more current and with a slightly different focus, but it didn’t have quite as much science as I was hoping. Now, it still had plenty of science, but it also relied more on personal stories. On the other hand, it also provides support for anyone who senses they might need to be their own advocate in order to be taken seriously by medical professionals (see: studies on the dismissal of women’s pain, etc.) I did still like this book a lot. The author’s perspective on healthcare as a mother of color is extremely important, and the book provided a lot of fascinating factoids about unexamined areas for up-and-coming research.

Both books are empowering for the reader, but in different ways. Expecting Better gives you the information to make your own choices, and Like a Mother reassures you that although pregnancy is scary, it’s also powerful in ways science is only beginning to understand. (Seriously, there’s a whole closing section on microchimeric cells created during the process.)

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