A pregnancy and birth book should have a lot of elements to it, in my opinion. It should be informative, thought-provoking, research-based, accurate and empowering. Many pregnancy books are able to do one or a couple of these things but some really do not hit the mark. This is the case with The Mommy Doc's Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy and Birth.
Meet the Mommy Docs
This book is written by three doctors (also known from their Network TV show "Deliver Me") who are mothers themselves. They also sprinkle parts of their personal birth stories in through the book, as well as other stories (the vast majority very medicalized). It is written for the average mom expecting a baby or someone who has a new baby or an interest in babies. The book covers preconception through postpartum. It includes a glossary in the back and a detailed index which is useful for finding the topic for which you are looking. It also has "myth vs fact" sections throughout the book, some of which are evidence-based and accurate and some of which are not evidence-based and are inaccurate.
Not Evidenced Based
This book contains a highly medicalized view of pregnancy and birth. An example of this is that they say that throughout your pregnancy your doctor may use ultrasound technology to periodically measure the baby's size. Science shows us that ultrasound is not a good guide
to the size of your baby. Although some parts of the book are written with a positive spin on pregnancy, there are so many rare conditions listed and explained, it would be easy to feel like pregnancy was a disaster waiting to happen rather than a normal part of female physiology. An example of an inaccuracy is that they refer to pushing in the lithotomy position as "the traditional position" and indicate that it is preferred for birth because gravity pushes the baby's head down so that it can slip under the pubic bone. It does not mention, however, that the baby must then be pushed out of the vagina using only mom's uterine contractions and pushing efforts instead of maximizing gravity and allow the baby to naturally descend through the pelvis. It's these types of one-sided and inaccurate bits of information that make this book so upsetting.
A Few Thoughts on VBAC
One of the parts that is particularly fear-based and inaccurate is the section on VBACs (vaginal births after cesareans)
. There is a small side bar that states that vaginal birth after cesarean is the best choice for most moms, only to turn the page and have one of the mommy docs saying just the opposite. The authors make no mention of the benefits of vaginal birth after cesarean and point out that it is "risky." No mention of the risks of multiple cesareans are listed and risks of cesarean surgery in general are minimized. Included is also a quote from one of the authors about how she would never endanger her child's life attempting a VBAC. This is completely against evidence-based practice and the information provided by the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (and many other professional organizations) about the safety of VBAC.
A few Kind Words
Doulas and midwives are mentioned in a positive light in this
book, for that I am glad. They also though, give the "you don't get a
medal for having a natural birth" point of view, which is not
supportive of those who wish to have a normal labor. I can imagine that a pregnant woman in their practice who even dares mention that she was thinking of not getting an epidural would be a huge to do.
I have a list of pregnancy books and TV shows that I ask moms to stay
away from because I feel that their positive aspects are so far
overshadowed by the negative that the book does much more harm than
good. For these reasons, I find that I cannot recommend moms read this
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy