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What to Believe When You're Expecting
A New Look at Old Wives' Tales in Pregnancy
Pregnant women encounter advice from many directions about how to have a healthy pregnancy - not only from health care providers, but from relatives, friends, and the Internet. Some of these pieces of advice (on topics that range from inducing labor to telling the baby's gender to improving breastfeeding) have been handed down from woman to woman for generations, and don't appear in any medical textbooks. Dr. Jonathan Schaffir explores the origins of these old wives' tales, and examines the medical evidence that proves which ones may be useful and which ones are just entertaining. On topics ranging from getting pregnant to the best way to recover from childbirth, the book settles the questions of what a woman should believe when she hears such advice.
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Have you ever heard that eating sweets means an expectant mother will have a girl? Or that pregnant women should eat dates in order to ease labor pains? Dr. Schaffir explores the origins of these and other stories about pregnancy and birth that have endured through the centuries. Chapters follow pregnancy from conception through birth, addressing varied topics including fertility, efforts to choose and predict gender, and labor. Schaffir examines research from throughout the centuries and puts specific studies into historical context. His years as an obstetrician and educator have given him insight into the tales that continue to persist despite decades of medical advancement. Throughout the book, Schaffir's tone is approachable and compassionate towards expectant and hopeful parents. He is well versed in folktales from multiple cultures and world regions. Given that folklore about pregnancy and birth remains prevalent while other outdated medical advice has been left behind, What to Believe When You're Expecting is a fascinating look at beliefs and stories for parents and nonparents alike. * Booklist * Obstetrician Schaffir delivers a well-researched...look at various folk beliefs around pregnancy and helps sort out the possible, the illogical ('Why would spicy food start labor?'), and the just plain strange. The book is smartly organized around stages of pregnancy and motherhood, going from conception to labor to breast-feeding, and briefly examines questions associated with each. Are dry beets, rice, and pomegranates reliable fertility aids? Is a baby's gender associated with the father's virility? Can chocolate make a baby's disposition sweeter, and can a mother's stress make it worse? Although Schaffir diligently shares a slew of superstitions and misbeliefs, as a physician and scientist he is careful not to encourage belief in most of the 'remedies' or advice. Sex and dinner as inducements for labor might be pleasurable but 'there is little evidence' that they actually work, he writes. The jovial author's best advice to parents is to 'take what nature gives them and love their baby no matter what,' rather than concern themselves with issues beyond their control - baby gender, for instance.... [An] intriguing and informative survey.... * Publishers Weekly * Dr. Schaffir has done all of us who care for pregnant women as well our patients, their partners, and their families an invaluable service. He has provided a superb, easy to read, in depth and balanced discussion of the many "old wives tales" related to pregnancy and childbirth. Combining anecdotes and scientific study, historical background and the latest data, Dr. Schaffir tells us, among so many other topics, about diet from pica to placentophagy, how chocolate might influence your baby's disposition, what steps could be taken to start labor, and whether beer can help with breastfeeding. This book is a must read, a resource that should be available everywhere obstetrics is practiced. -- Steven Gabbe, Emeritus CEO, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center; Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology