As I told my mom, the great thing about expecting very little from the American medical establishment is that you're not particularly shocked when you read books like The Business of Baby: What Doctors Don't Tell You, What Corporations Try to Sell You, and How to Put Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Before Their Bottom Line.
So yeah: Margulis has a lot to say on a broad array of topics surrounding pregnancy, childbirth, infant care, and cultural norms in this wide-ranging investigative book. But was I particularly surprised by any of it? Not really. If you read this book, you'll find a lot of tidbits like this:
--"When I ask [Dr. Michael] Klaper why obstetricians don't emphasize the importance of nutrition during pregnancy, he chuckles. 'No one tells us it's important!' he exclaims, shaking his head. 'We go to medical school to learn how to work in the body repair shop--which is what hospitals are. If you break your body, go to the hospital. They'll fix it. But then get out of there. No one is going to mention nutrition to you before, during, or after, because no one mentions it to us.'" (p. 9.)
--"Data collected by the United Nations shows that while the vast majority of countries reduced their maternal mortality rates (for a global decreace of 34 percent), the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. doubled between 1990 and 2008, from 12 to 24 in 100,000 births." (p. 50.)
--"Another report found that women at for-profit hospitals were 17% more likely to have a Cesarean, despite having fewer risk factors, than women at nonprofit hospitals." (p. 87.)
I'll admit that the chapters on health care (and especially how the American system differs from systems in Europe) held my interest more than chapters on how the formula and diaper industries are conspiring to get mothers to buy their formula and diapers. My interest perked back up for the chapters on vaccinations and well-baby visits, though, and I read much of it with that feeling you get when you've experienced what an author is talking about:
"Every well-baby visit begins with charting a baby's height and weight against a standardized curve. But because pediatricians are usually so rushed, this quantitative evaluation is often done without taking the particular context of the baby's family into account, and without consideration to the problematic nature of the growth charts themselves." (p. 232.)
All I can say is: been there, heard that.
To say I enjoyed this book would be all wrong. But it was informative (particularly a lot of the information about vaccinations (there's a chart on p. 264 that lists how many vaccines Norwegian children get, as opposed to their American counterparts, that's pretty shocking). I did feel it was a little short on helpful future suggestions or policy ideas (although she does list resources in an appendix and inspirational stories throughout), but it was not really that kind of book. All in all, I think I still preferred Jennifer Block's book Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care (which I read a while back) overall, but this book did provide a larger viewpoint on more issues surrounding having and raising children.