Yesterday I went down to Pioneer Square for a haircut, dinner with R. and art walk, all of which was fun. Made it back up the hill at a pretty good pace (altho R. insisted we slow down at one point because he felt I was breathing quite heavily. I was still talking fast, but his point was well-taken and very compassionate).
I finished Ann (not that other woman) Crittenden's book _The Price of Motherhood_, which is nothing short of fantastic. Well-researched, compassionate, well-argued, very interesting topic and remarkably realistic as well. Unheard of, really, particularly when it comes to this topic. As one reviewer on Amazon noted, this is everything Naomi Wolf's book could have been and isn't (which isn't wholly true, as Wolf's _Misconceptions_ is about the liminal year of pregnancy + birth, and then the shocker in the status change thereafter, whereas Crittenden is all about the thereafter). I'm still mulling over what I think about all the pieces of the problem. The not-having-a-girlish-figure-anymore issue (Wolf's, not Crittenden's) is of course no shocker for me. Altho if I hadn't already been through those issues, pregnancy would have been a lot harder on me psychologically. Instead, I just feel a bit contemptuous of all the people trying to reassure me that getting big for a baby is somehow better than being fat. Get over yourselves, people. And, specifically, enough with the justification of bigotry. When I complain about being huge, my complaints revolve around how my knees feel at this point when I'm carrying 25-30 pounds worth of groceries, how tricky it is to maneuver my belly and breasts in and out of tightly parked cars and the difficulty of getting my heavier self up hills. Also, finding clothes that don't rub, and having to wake up to roll over in bed and so forth. This isn't a omigod-I'm-big-how-horrible, it's godammit this is a lot of work. The relative-power-to-spouse issues that Crittenden and Wolf explore seem not to apply to me, at least not in the economic dependence sense, but it's really good that this kind of thing is being talked about, and Crittenden does a fantastic job conveying the state of the world judicially, legislatively and what may be coming up based on the work of a lot of women academics, and changing strategies in other developed nations.
I am now reading about antenatal/prenatal care (_The Captured Womb_, which is about the UK's system, and currently _Expecting Trouble_, which is about the U.S.). I'd already seen a bunch of stuff in _Effective Care..._ summarizing the studies in Cochrane about the efficacy of prenatal care (not shown, basically, despite everyone assuming it's so wonderful). While I think Strong's summary about our very-low-birthweight survival rate being one of the best in the world is either just wrong or out of date (I _know_ I just read a study that said that was _not_ the case), he's a riot to read. Second generation ob who pulls no punches saying how bad his profession is. Quite amazing, really.
I don't know from personal experience what happens if you see a family practitioner or ob/gyn for prenatal care, but I've certainly got the rundown from a lot of other women, and I've read what a dozen or so books and articles say happens in prenatal care and honestly, it's hard to imagine that making much of a difference for outcomes. They don't know what causes preterm labor and small babies. They can't effectively stop premature birth. They can't cure PIH/pre-eclampsia/eclampsia/toxemia (or even reduce its likelihood appreciably). And about all they can do if they spot something Real Wrong with the little one is decide to terminate rather than go to term. I really like going to see the midwives, and honestly, I think getting to know them and being comfortable with them will contribute a lot to making for a better, safer birth. But since continuity of care is pretty much nonexistent on most ob/gyn practices (with family practitioners it would presumably be better), that hardly seems relevant. They can scare the bejeepers out of you, prescribe drugs and do stuff in an effort to fix problems they have encountered, but none of those treatments have what I consider even mediocre science to back them up. And Strong is basically saying all that in a lot more detail, plus commentary on ridiculous things done in the past for similar reasons that they don't do anymore because they eventually were forced to realize how bad an idea they truly were (DES, for example).
Yet despite all that (which, if you read the studies, is brutally obvious, and in case you miss it, there are at least two books out there to lay it out for you in its horrifying glory), prenatal care has got to be one of the most widely accepted as a good thing bits of medical care out there.
In marginally related news, I'll be reading Gilbert Welch's book _Should I be Tested for Cancer?_ in the near future. I read a lot of health news (does it show?) and for some years now I've been getting more and more disillusioned with a lot of the standard recommendations for various screening (by age, race, gender, etc.) tests. I tracked down some people at Dartmouth who study which medical care and procedures are worth doing and which aren't, and sent email to one of them and he pointed me at this book. If only Fisher would write a book of his own.
I told R. he should take me aside if I decide becoming a Christian Scientist isn't a bad idea and urge me to reconsider. That would be taking this whole line of thinking entirely too far.