Book Review: The Business of Baby

Posted by Brette in Books

business babyDid you ever feel as though maybe your doctor, your child’s doctor, and the companies that sell you products for your child don’t always have your best interests at heart? I think we’ve all had at least twinges of these feelings from time to time, and if you’ve had a bad experience with a doctor or hospital, you might feel very strongly about this.

Jennifer Margulis sees a pattern in all of this, and she wrote a book called The Business of Baby to investigate exactly what’s going on. (Disclosure: I did the index for this book, which allowed me to read it very carefully and is how the manuscript came into my hands. Please note I was not asked to write a review nor was it a condition of my creating the index. I don’t think Jennifer even knows I am writing a review). The book offers some very shocking facts.

Did you know it makes more financial sense for your doctor to do a C-section than to help you deliver vaginally?

Can you believe that the U.S. has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in developed countries?

Would you have imagined the U.S. has higher infant mortality rates than Scandinavian countries?

And did you know that the baby wash used in most hospitals has a laundry list of chemicals in it, including formaldehyde?

Ever wonder what happens to your baby’s foreskin after a circumcision? You probably didn’t know it’s often sold (for profit!) and used in beauty products and other surgeries.

Your prenatal vitamins? Full of chemicals.

Did you know medical students are taught to treat birth as an illness, not a natural process?

Did you know that many experts believe vaccinating a baby before one year of age is not only pointless, but dangerous, and that the infant’s immune system is not developed enough to actually make use of the vaccine? The list goes on and on.

Margulis did extensive investigative reporting for this book and even traveled to Scandinavia to find out why they do birth better. Her revelations are eye-opening. She displays a health care system that focuses only on profit.  She shows us how far our birth and baby health care system has gone awry – pushing women and children into situations that are unhealthy for them while financially benefiting doctors, hospitals, and corporations. Her complex web of interviews with doctors, midwives, nurses, parents, and researchers paints a fairly grim picture of the options available to women and families in the U.S.

Margulis is out to make her point in this book – that point being that pregnancy, birth and infant care are overmedicalized, endangering women and children. If we took a step back and allowed the process to be less medical and more natural, she believes we would have better outcomes and healthier moms and babies. She does not lay out the opposing  argument for you, so this is not a balanced take on the topic, but instead is one written from a very passionate viewpoint.

That being said, no matter what your feelings are about this topic, this is a very important book to read. You’ll be shocked, you’ll be angered, and you’ll start to think about how the system may have manipulated you without you even knowing. Even if you question Margulis’s conclusions, the evidence she presents will make you think and begin to wonder if your best interests have been pushed to the side in the race to make more and more money.

And maybe all of this will make you think about what the alternatives should be. Margulis is a proponent of midwives, homebirth, and breastfeeding, and suggests we need to reduce ultrasounds in pregnancies, change the vaccination schedule, and rethink what well baby care ought to be. Some of her views might shock you, but others might hit home. This book is going to start a national conversation about our preconceived notions about pregnancy, birth, and baby care. You want to read it so that you can form your own opinions.

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