Archive | November 20, 2010

Book Review: Understanding the Dangers of Cesarean Birth

Book Review: Understanding the Dangers of Cesarean Birth: Making Informed Decisions
By Nicette Jukelevics
Praeger Publishers, 2008
ISBN 978-0-275-99906-3
264 pages, hardback, $49.95 (or $40.96 via

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE, CCCE

Intended to be a comprehensive resource for both consumers and birth professionals, Understanding the Dangers of Cesarean Birth is an in-depth look at the incidence and impact of cesarean birth on mothers, babies, families, and society as well as an overview of prevention strategies. The final section of the book is about “why normal birth matters” and addresses changing the status quo. The Midwives Model of Care is reflected and promoted during the book and doulas also receive strong support.

I have two primary opinions of the book: The first is that I truly believe that Understanding the Dangers of Cesarean Birth should become the “go to” book for current, evidence-based, thorough information about cesarean birth in the U.S. It is a treasure trove of information and any birth professional would be well advised to have a copy on their bookshelf. The second opinion is that the “heavy” subject, extremely in-depth information, academic writing style, and relatively high price, will likely keep this book out of the hands out of its primary intended audience—the consumer. The person who most needs to read this book is the first-time pregnant woman. However, the entire time I was reading it, I kept thinking that there was only a slim likelihood of the average first-time mother being attracted to, or actually picking up this book, to read.

Mothers planning VBACs or seeking to understand their own cesarean birth experiences will probably find Understanding the Dangers of Cesarean Birth to be a valuable resource. Birth activists will find clearly articulated and important information that they will wish to shout to the rooftops and I think that this is how the content in Understanding the Dangers of Cesarean Birth has the best chance of truly reaching the women who need to hear its message.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

Book Review: The Joy of Pregnancy

Book Review: The Joy of Pregnancy: The Complete, Candid, and Reassuring Companion for Parents-to-Be
By Tori Kropp, RN
Harvard Common Press, 2008
ISBN 978-155832306-3
412 pages, paperback, $14.95

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE, CCCE

“One of the most important things I have learned about birthing babies is that the process is more of an unfolding marvel than a routine progression of events.” –Tori Kropp

Written by a nurse in a refreshingly positive tone, The Joy of Pregnancy is a basic guide to pregnancy and birth, intended primarily for first time parents. Not only does it cover month-by-month fetal and maternal developments during pregnancy, it includes information about labor and birth, preparing for postpartum, breastfeeding, and the first days of parenting. There is a conventional emphasis on “asking your care provider” rather than a consumer-oriented approach to making your own best decisions. Something unique and valuable about the book is that each section contains information specifically for women expecting twins or other multiples. This content is inset into boxes, but it is the first pregnancy book I’ve read where information for mothers of multiples is integrated into the main body of the text, rather than being relegated to special section or chapter. Specific “Dad’s Corner” sections in most chapters are another nicely integrated feature of the book.

Overall, the information contained in the Joy of Pregnancy is fairly conservative and standard, though as I noted, presented primarily in a positive and upbeat way rather than a fear or complication based way. Doulas, postpartum doulas, and midwives all receive casual mention and are presented as “normal,” rather than “fringe” options. Birth centers and homebirths are briefly included in the section on choosing a birth setting. Parents who are looking for a complete guide to pregnancy that reassures and comforts, rather than produces self-doubt, will find The Joy of Pregnancy a nice alternative. The book is also currently available as a free ebook via, which is a great bonus!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.