We’re starting off the week with a book recommendation that I’ve been so excited to share.
Babies Are Not Pizzas: They’re Born, Not Delivered! by Rebecca Dekker was recommended to me sometime this year and I finally got around to reading it in the fall. It was a quick read – it only took me about 2 days to read it. And I loved it.
I actually loved it so much that I sent Rebecca an email about how well written the book was and thanked her for sharing her story.
I also plan to recommend it mamas in pregnancy – especially first time mamas (see the end of the post for the books I recommend over and over and over…).
It’s not just a book for mamas and families though.
Anyone that works in the birth industry should read this book. Rebecca’s story is interwoven with the story of obstetric culture. She explains in plain language which factors have caused the practice of obstetrics to stalemate while birth outcomes have simultaneously plateaued or worsened.
Here are my takeaways from the book…
Rebecca’s story is not uncommon
The book starts out with Rebecca’s story about her first pregnancy and how limited she was in walking, eating, and even bathroom use after being admitted after her bag of water broke. This is not uncommon. To me, this is a disconnect between practice and the evidence (a theme throughout the book and a key factor for why she started Evidence Based Birth).
I won’t retell her story here, but after reading her story, it’s not hard to find someone with a similar experience.
In becoming pregnant again, Rebecca discovers midwifery and goes on to have a beautiful home birth…this is a turning point for her. It also sets ablaze her passion for birth care that is evidence-based.
But in learning more about what evidence there is and is not for common practices on labor and delivery, she finds that culture is a big, hairy monster. This discovery leads into the meat of the book.
Culture isn’t fixed with just a little pixie dust.
This point in the book is clearly presented and illustrated throughout the whole book. Rebecca talks about the system of oppression. According to Rebecca, the system of oppression can be divided between Oppressive Factors and Internalized Oppression. Oppressive Factors are comprised of powerful individuals, powerful institutions and culture. And Internalized Oppression is defined as being a middle man (nurses, residents, midwives, techs…) and believing you have less power than the people in charge.
Wow. If you’ve worked on a labor and delivery unit, there have never been truer words. Deeper into the discussion and later in the book, Rebecca talks about social norms and personalities on labor and delivery units. This really hit home for me. I’ve worked on 7 labor and delivery units across the United States and they have all had a very different culture. Power was held in various forms by different positions or seniority or number of years on the floor. And social norms were rampant in every single unit.
I’ve read a lot of books. About labor, leadership, birth, parenting, midwifery…there have been a lot. But I’ve never seen the structure of oppression in the setting of obstetrics painted so clearly.
The system of oppression is powerful, persistent and overbearing. Those in the system need to take a good look around and those entering the system deserve a forewarning. Rebecca offers both in her book.
Lastly, there’s hope in the culture.
After the eye-opening lesson on oppression, Rebecca points you to her solution – change the culture. And she’s doing it. She is an RN with a PhD and she is educating people about the evidence for birth. Her website if evidencebasedbirth.com and it’s fantastic. What she realized in her journey was that it is hard to reshape fear, social norms, and power. Especially for a woman that is just in the hospital for a day or two.
But it is possible to change the culture.
I like to think we try to do that around here too.
By educating women and everyone in birth work, we can make slow changes towards the evidence and towards better.
The last part of her book is a frank but optimistic Q+A that offers solutions and encouragement to women and birth workers. It’s very well done and ends the book on a nice note!
If you are a mama, a birth worker, an aspiring midwife…this is worth the read. It will offer the opportunity to think critically about the systems we work in (and often feel likes pawns in).
But, there’s hope in offering women evidence. And then having conversation about what is best for the woman, the baby and the family based on that evidence. And then making that decision together.
If you’ve read the book let me know your thoughts! If you haven’t, get this one on your library list ASAP!
And if you want to know the books that I recommend over and over…here they are!
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
- Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke
- The Birth Partner by Peggy Simkin
- The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality by Kimberly Ann Johnson
- Babies Are Not Pizzas: They’re Born, Not Delivered! by Rebecca Dekker *newest addition!*
Have a great week!
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