Misconceptions Truth Lies and the Unexpected on the

In The Beauty Myth the fearless Naomi Wolf revolutionized the way we think about beauty In Misconceptions she demythologizes motherhood and reveals the dangers of commonassumptions about childbirth With uncompromising honesty she describes how hormones eroded her sense of independence ultrasounds tested her commitment to abortion rights and the keepers of the OBGYN establishmentlacked compassion The weeks after her first daughter's birth taught her how society employers and even husbands can manipulate new mothers She had bewildering post partum depression but learned that asurprisingly highpercentage of women experience it Wolf's courageous willingness to talk about the unexpected difficulties of childbirth will help every woman become a knowledgeable planner ofher pregnancy and better prepare her for the challenges of balancing a career freedom and a growing family Invaluable in its advice to parents Misconceptions speaks to anyoneconnected personally medically or professionally to a new mother From the Trade Paperback edition

10 thoughts on “Misconceptions Truth Lies and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood

  1. says:

    The heteronormativity of this book made me want to scream This book doesn’t seem to consider the perspectives of mommies who aren’t white upper middle class and married to loving feminist husbands who are also white and upper middle class One woman I spoke with while reading this book stated “I felt like it was an argument for ‘class trumps everything’” Faced with motherhood Naomi Wolf decides to become everything her class and race position encourages her to be as “mother” and then complains about the feminist mystique affect she faces At times the book embraces feminine essentialism being pregnant is like being disabled you are helpless and vulnerable and need your husband to protect you especially when walking through ‘bad’ parts of town this allows you to understand what it is like to be disabled or old or young which is also about being helpless and vulnerable and thus causes women to support social programs I think you can begin to see how deeply offensive this is for multiple reasons In the first part of the book Wolf realizes that the medical profession didn’t have her best interests at heart and is truly about turning a profit – a critique I agree with She also recognizes that romanticizing natural child birth methods also fails to deal with the fact that for much of human history it was “natural” for women to die in child birth and that adequate facilities for women’s reproductive health are in demand around the world While I wouldn’t go to this book for the most recent science I agreed with this general critique of the profit motive of the medical establishment I also thought her emphasis on pointing out what is physically unpleasant about pregnancy in a society that likes to cover it in rosie images of nurturing contentment was valuable I certainly found myself shuddering in the various descriptions of child birth I think its actually worth thinking about how much having a baby is going to hurt – not just in the abstract but in the very specific ways she describes What the second part of the book does well is point out how the gendered assumptions about equal share in child rearing in upper middle class white heteronormative progressive families doesn’t always work out so well Having a baby shifts the balance of power in a relationship Certainly it made me realize that if I ever have a baby with someone I want to spell out a contract before hand being very explicit about how responsibilities over childcare are splitOh and the book ends with a Mommy Manifesto Here Wolf deals with the nanny care crisis her childcare which allows her career to thrive comes by underpaying and exploiting the labor of women of color who watch white babies instead of their own and who receive no pensions and no health insurance Her suggestion is government subsidized unionized child care centers that would ensure workers get treated as professionals are better paid and have true benefits She doesn’t really deal with have a equitable distribution of child labor between men and women Certainly parts of her manifesto were compelling – it does leave me wanting to no about the politics of child care and to think about how would I like to see child care dealt with in the society in which I live It is really central to the contemporary politics of mothering and childbirth – and frankly I think its too easy in our society to not care about the politics of mothering until one decides to become a mother And certainly there is not enough pressure for men to be reading books about the feminist politics of reproductive labor Please give me your suggestions on books to read on this subject From the academic realm I think of Pierrette Hondagneu Sotelo’s Domestica and the writings of Rhacel Salazar Parrenas attack this dynamic well

  2. says:

    blech like one a half stars maybe? this was the last book i read before i gave birth to ramona kind of a weird book to go out onthis book was incredibly self indulgent basically naomi wolf got pregnant made the same mistake that every pregnant for the first time woman makes in thinking that no one has ever been pregnant before in the history of humanity it would also appear that she knew next to nothing about pregnancy or birth or the medical model of maternity care or anything before she got pregnant it was like she thought she would give birth on a bed of moss in the woods she was dumbfounded when she discovered that sometimes being pregnant means that people will want to do blood tests on you the narrative thread running through the book is wolf's constant shock amazement that maybe pregnancy isn't as easy as she expected it to be it's just kind of embarrassing to read about all the stuff she didn't know she's all like hey guys did you know that babies used to be mainly born at home with midwives? crazy right? but then doctors swooped in took over started giving everyone episiotomies all the time what the fuck is that about? she decides to give birth at a local hospital with beautifully appointed labor rooms but she is stunned horrified when her labor is somewhat complicated she ends up in a less beautiful room she makes it sound like a slaughterhouse then she spends her first few weeks of motherhood moping around about not getting the pretty room with the four poster beds i just want to be like listen naomi my pregnancy ended with a week of bed rest an emergency cesarean that i don't even remember because they had me on so many fucked up drugs to keep me from having a stroke my baby was in the NICU for her first month of life i didn't even get to SEE her let alone hold her let alone try to breastfeed her until she was than a day old so kindly SHUT THE FUCK UP about the four poster beds okay?the i think about this book the pissed off i get then i feel angry at myself because it's like what? i'm somehow SURPRISED that naomi wolf wrote a book dripping with entitlement self centered anecdata? am i new here or something?

  3. says:

    I read this soon after I found out I was pregnant with my daughter It was a completely chance finding as I browsed in a bookshop in Clapham At the time I just wanted something that was a little personal than all the slightly scary pregnancy manuals that everyone seemed to think I should be reading Serendipity or not this is a very good book and I would heartily reccomend it As a social critique of the whole pregnancy business and all it's attendant obsessions and fads it is immensely useful I credit this book with giving me the confidence to decide how I wanted to give birth and giving me the gumption to be assertive with the doctors Certainly it convinced me of the importance of the NHS in BritainHowever I do have to take issue with the fact that Woolf makes motherhood sound so damned awful Proir to giving birth I lapped up her stories of collapsing marriages unhelpful boyfriendshusbands and resentful tales of late nights without any sense of perspective I was completely expecting being a mother to be an impossible and unhappy experience at least for the first couple of years Thankfully this hasn't been my experience yet and rereading some passages just seems laughable now I can't help thinking that feminism would be a whole lot better served if it ditched the assumption that any women's work is drudgery and legalised slavery It's all a little too overblown and doesn't do much to encourage the reader Whilst I would hate to have the opposite everything is fluffy bunnies and warm contented smiles I think this attitude is just as perniciousDespite these criticisms however it is a very good book Just take some passages with a hearty pinch of salt

  4. says:

    For the first 264 pages I was ready to give this book 5 enthusiastic stars Wolf intertwines her personal experiences with careful research into the state of the maternal health care in the US I really related to the personal experiences she relates a traumatic c section mild PPD the strange mixture of confusion and bliss that accompany the arrival of a new baby I especially enjoyed her analysis of our hospital system that offers very few choices to laboring women and that commonly ignores what is best for mothers and babies in the name of convenience and profit I also appreciated her honest assessment of the wide range of emotions that come along with new motherhood and her passionate advocacy for society to treat mothering as a profession and better accommodate the needs of mothers and children I agree with her New mothers need support less isolation and lots understandingThen came the chapter on breastfeeding which dropped my overall rating down to 3 stars and if I could rate it on a chapter by chapter basis I'd give this particular chapter 0 stars I was so incredibly disappointed with her very brief treatment of breastfeeding where she basically says eh breastfeeding's good and all but do whatever you want The rest of the book is such a vehement defense of everyday women who have to grapple with profit driven hospitals and litigation paranoid doctors in order to have their ideal birth experiencesI would have expected her to take up the cause and defend breastfeeding as a feminist issue too Instead she refers to La Leche League as lactation fascists and in one fell swoop undermines the work that ordinary women are doing to promote breastfeeding as the healthiest beginning for babies a fact that is literally undisputed in scientific data Where is the mention of the multi billion dollar formula industry that lobbies and sends free samples and does everything in their power to make breastfeeding seem too difficult too time consuming too socially uncomfortable? But no in Wolf's opinion the women who speak loudly trying to create a viable voice in opposition to this profit driven industry and who dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to helping women learn to breastfeed when challenges arise are fascists Give me a break Wolf loves Ina May Gaskin but doesn't like lactivists? How is this possible?? Anyway she gives literally one paragraph to addressing the proven health benefits of breastfeeding for babies doesn't even mention the myriad health benefits for mothers and sails on to say that it is unrealistic to expect many American mothers to breastfeedAs you can tell I ended the book with negative feelings The breastfeeding chapter really just a few pages was toward the end of the book and she never got me back after that Which is too bad I vaguely remember now that I really enjoyed the majority of the book I would recommend this book up to about page 264

  5. says:

    Basically the antithesis to What to Expect She even talks about WTEWYE early on and how it's meant to soothe This book is anything but soothing but I appreciated very much the stormy emotionality of it Given that I mostly hated pregnancy for a good two months it was nice to read something that waded around moodily about it that offered no rainbows etc A little too dark? Probably The chapter on pregnancy as facing impending death is troublesome But I also so far prefer ignorance about the details of what could or could not happen at labor So I'm a bad audience for that I definitely want to know how much of the information included the statistics etc which are some of the most informative and disturbing about the book have changed in the last decade Overall a very good and necessary read and for me reassuring in its darkness it's okay to think that pregnancy is really fucking hard and that you're not cut out for it That message isn't presented in a lot of the other media available and I wish it was

  6. says:

    Feminist author Naomi Wolf's mix of personal story and in depth research made for a super easy read that was fillied with information about what people don't expect in Wolf's opinion what mothers are kept from being able to expect about pregnancy childbirth and early parenthood Most interesting and frightening for me was learning about the way the hospitals and doctors handle birth keeping themselves safe from malpractice is above the woman's and at times the baby's experience and leads to a medicalized invasive birth than may have been necessary She helped me see how I could look with a informed eye at common practices prenatal tests various types of monitoring support and interventions during labor and learn whether or not they are right for my situation or not In my opinion a must read

  7. says:

    Great book for mom's or women who would like to be moms someday Don't be put off by the feminist writer She takes a very balanced view of the whole birthing process and how over medicalized it has become Not to say that I am not grateful for modern medicine There is just a lot of hooey that you get from hospitals and insurance companies trying to placate you with birthing rooms and hot water whirpools when in the end they care about the bottom line and not being sued I also like how she kind of puts an end to the whole working mom vs stay at home mom controversy In short the greatest thing we can be is mothers The we value each other the society will value our role We shouldn't criticize each other for our differences but embrace each other for what we have in common

  8. says:

    Dripping with entitlement on every page Newsflash upper middle class women used to getting everything on a silver platter discover as they approach now or never childbearing years that quelle horreur there is no one to hold their hands through pregnancy childbirth Beware of the high pitched whining throughout It makes for a difficult read

  9. says:

    This was the book that changed everything for meIt was my first pregnancy and I had no idea so I did what a person like me does I headed to the local library I stumbled across this book and it changed the way I thought about pregnancy and birth I had a couple of experiences around other births I had seen two family members give birth I remember being at the hospital waiting for my sister in law to give birth and ushering in the room when she did I knew nothing and all I cared about was gving her the present I had bought She was sitting on the bed looking very drugged out the baby was there but she was barely coherent It struck me that this was the most joyous moment of her life and she looked like she was on drugs it had been a vaginal deliver but she had used drugs for pain reliefThe memory of that birth made me want to seek a better way For me this led me down the road to a homebirth assisted by two amazing midwives My husband and I never considered ourselves to be that crunchy we scoffed at the idea of a homebirth when we first began our quest but since then we have had two home deliveries the second birth was a powerful experience that I will never forgetThe journey began with this book

  10. says:

    I couldn't finish it I rarely do thatI found the ethnocentricity exceedingly overpowering and the privilege of moneyed whiteness to be a big yawn If you want a good feminist read on the role of birthing breastfeeding and mothering then read Gabrielle Palmer's The Politics of Breastfeeding that will really take you into socio economic dynamics commercial protectionism and the patriarchy with MUCH vigour zero self consciousness and a real discussion on sexual politicsAnd then for a rational discussion on birth choices that transcends political agenda of the author and busts a whole bunch of birthing myths read Marjorie Tew's Safer Birth? Tew is a statistician well outside of the political interests of the birthing 'industry' who conducts statistical and historical analysis of birthing outcomes and the health professionals involvedI had read these two aforementioned titles years before I came across Wolf's book and it pales in comparison I'm sure that this is a ground breaking book for many women who are still conditioned to believe doctors and hospitals have your best interests at heart and as I already knew this was a dangerous misconception 'Misconceptions' stated the obvious to me I'm glad she is in a position to highlight the issues that are relevant to her socio economic status because it will reach a number of women who are inclined to fall victim to the arrogance of similarly educated professionals women who have been to university are likely to go along with the skewed 'professiona' opinion of someone else who has a uni certificate on their office wall and less likely to question themMeanwhile if you really want to gain insight into mothering you'll need to read a few books written by better positioned people For the lay person both of the aforementioned books are very readableSorry Naomi I just couldn't