Book Review : Your Baby, Your Way by Jennifer Margulis
Updated: Feb 19
Title: Your Baby, Your Way Author: Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D Publisher: Scribner (A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.) Length: 341 pages Price: Rs. 399/- (Flipkart)
I found this book quite by accident. It was a Sunday morning and while my husband and I were enjoying our almost-ritual Sunday breakfast out, I said to him, “I want to go to a bookstore and see what kind of books they have on birth.” My husband is now used to my random outbursts of birth-talk. He obliged and we made our way to the closest Crossword. I went straight to the pregnancy and parenting section and not surprisingly, the first book that stands out is that venerable so-called ‘Bible’ of pregnancy, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” I picked up that one, and three others and found myself a quiet corner to sit and browse through these books.
Just as an aside, I know I shouldn’t pass judgement because I haven’t fully read “What to Expect…”, but I would encourage you not to make this book your go-to reference book on pregnancy. First of all, it’s too big and it has way too much stuff in it which I think only makes it confusing and intimidating and in turn makes birth seem a daunting experience that is way over your head and is best left to the ‘experts’. You need books that will build you up, nourish you and empower you…
Enter THIS book. Of course it helped immensely that the indomitable Ina May Gaskin’s endorsement of the book is right on the front cover but really, this book stands on its own literary prowess, Gaskin’s endorsement or not. I think the best testament to this book’s authenticity is that it has a 59-page long bibliography citing all the sources of Margulis’ 10 years’ worth of research.
Based in Oregon, USA, Margulis is an award-winning investigative journalist and also mother of four with a good fifteen years of parenting experience under her belt. The book is interspersed with anecdotes from her own mothering adventures as well as countless stories from other parents, doctors, researchers, authors, etc.
What makes this book a must-have for expecting or hopeful parents (or simply for other nutters like me who have an insatiable interest in all things related to childbirth), is that it doesn’t stop at birth. From breastfeeding to diapering, each chapter tackles a different cultural practice that one must make decisions about in the first year of a baby’s life. She presents every side of the story and, in the words of Ina Gaskin, “points the way to rational, health-based decision-making.”
While the the book is mainly written for an American audience with most of the statistics (some of which are shocking!) and research pertaining to the US, seeing as we live in an increasingly globalised and homogeneous world, the book is definitely relatable to us in India as well. While things may not be exactly the same here, we are definitely on a similar path and the book will give you plenty to think about and encourage you to do your own research so that you can make your own informed choices.
I could not recommend this book more highly. Apart from being a thoroughly researched and helpful guidebook, despite the serious subject matter, the book is in fact enjoyable to read. I described it to my husband as “Michael Pollan meets Annie Leonard meets Ina May Gaskin!” Basically some of my most respected writers on issues that are close to my heart all wrapped into one. It doesn’t read like a reference book or a thesis paper, but pulls you in with stories from real and relatable peoples’ lives and in the words of another reviewer, Dr. Kurt Perkins, “Margulis leaves you empowered, a little fired up, and ready for reality.”
To finish off, a little excerpt from the introduction of the book by Margulis:
In our for-profit medical system and culture at large, pregnant women are consumers. Yet most of us spend more time researching car seats than we do researching hospitals. Both deserve our scrutiny. Knowledge is power. As I’ve learned from my own experience and that of others, the more you inform yourself about your birth options and parenting choices, the healthier and happier you and your family will be.