Misconceptions – A Book Review

(Photo Credit Coolza)

As part of my reading for my Post Partum Doula certification through DONA, I have had the opportunity to reflect about what type of mother I want to be when the day comes, and what type of birth my husband and I are going to want for our child.  It is going to be very interesting to come back to some of these books after I do become a mother and see how my perspective changes. 

One book that has really got me thinking is Misconceptions – Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood by Naomi Wolf.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so angered and yet so pleased with a book at the same time. 

This is a very insightful look at one woman’s journey through pregnancy and delivery, her experiences, and the sometimes hidden, and not so hidden agendas of doctors, hospitals, children’s product companies and more. 

Wolf details her experience of her first pregnancy with her husband, which was not planned.  As I mentioned, parts of the book were enraging for me to read, and the reason for this is that I feel there is a distinct difference between a woman who accepts and deals with a pregnancy, as opposed to a woman who desperately wants it.  In one instance, Wolf describes a feeling of not understanding pregnancy as linked to birth since in her mind it was so closely linked to death – that is, a death of the woman she was before, and the woman she felt she would never be able to fully be again once her child was born. 

While I do fully agree with the sentiment that you are likely never the same person once your child is born, I have a very hard time seeing it as a death.  To me it is more of a re-birth.  One of my favorite quotes is from the Johnson & Johnson ads: “When a baby is born, so is a mother.”  This is my approach to pregnancy and motherhood now…  As I’ve said, I’m very interested to see how this will change once we do have a child, and I experience my own birth.  I am certain there are things about myself now, and my child-free life with my husband that I am  going to miss, and am going to look back on and think “Oh wasn’t it nice when we could ….. ?”   By the same token, I’m sure there are a million joys and emotions that children will bring that I cannot even imagine yet. 

All that being said, I could not put this book down!  I had to keep reading!  Naomi Wolf, while I didn’t always agree with her stance, is such a captivating and beautiful author.  The writing in this book is almost poetic, without being overly flowery… and somehow had the perfect amount of sentiment, without being mushy… definitely not mushy.  It was truly captivating. 

While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book for a couple actively trying to get pregnant, I think it would be a fantastic read for someone who is pregnant, and a mandatory read for parents!  It truly is just brilliant. 

I’ll leave you with a quote from the book:

Birth is viewed through a softened lens of pink haze: the new baby and radiant mommy in an effortless mutual embrace, proud papa nearby…  I want to record and do honor not to the fantasy but to the real thing.  Real mother love is more impressive than the fantasy of it.  That actual, specific, fierce maternal love that grows in the wake of that immense psychic and physical tremor that is pregnancy and birth should inspire awe, not sentiment.  I wrote this book to explore the genuine miracle, not the Hallmark card; to trace the maternal bond as it forms, heroically and poignantly, in spite of, rather than because of, the obtuse and unnatural ideology of motherhood under which we labor. ~ Naomi Wolf  

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Arpita has a background in sociology and psychology and is studying to be a Post Partum Doula. She has a special interest in helping mothers establish the breastfeeding relationship and sharing information about natural/attachment parenting. She lives in Canada with her husband. As they await their first pregnancy, Arpita writes about alternative fertility treatments including acupuncture for fertility, naturopathic medicine and ayurvedic medicine (and offers giveaways) at Up, Down and Natural. In her spare time she enjoys yoga, cooking, baking, knitting, scrapbooking and photography.

This article was previously published on Up, Down & Natural on July 31st, 2010. 

One Response to Misconceptions – A Book Review

  1. Julian  

    This definitely sounds like a book I would enjoy reading! Thanks for letting me know about it!

    I think I see both of your views on birth. When you’re not quite ready (My husband and I wanted to get pregnant but didn’t intend to conceive the very week we had that conversation) Birth does feel a little bit like a death. I desperately wanted this family, but I still had some living to do. We had plans to move to our dream city and make a home together, to find our place in a new world. Instead we are where we have always been and yet with a son who makes the same-old same-old feel like adventure!

    I feel like I would have felt as you do, like it was a rebirth, if I’d have been really ready when it happened.

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