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Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood [Paperback]

Naomi Wolf
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb 2003
In The Beauty Myth the fearless Naomi Wolf revolutionized the way we think about beauty. In Misconceptions, she demythologizes motherhood and reveals the dangers of common assumptions about childbirth. With uncompromising honesty she describes how hormones eroded her sense of independence, ultrasounds tested her commitment to abortion rights, and the keepers of the OB/GYN establishment lacked compassion. The weeks after her first daughter’s birth taught her how society, employers, and even husbands can manipulate new mothers. She had bewildering post partum depression, but learned that a surprisingly high.percentage of women experience it.
Wolf’s courageous willingness to talk about the unexpected difficulties of childbirth will help every woman become a more knowledgeable planner of her pregnancy and better prepare her for the challenges of balancing a career, freedom, and a growing family. Invaluable in its advice to parents, Misconceptions speaks to anyone connected–personally, medically, or professionally–to a new mother.

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books; Reprint edition (Feb 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385497458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385497459
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,735,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

With Misconceptions, Naomi Wolf again demonstrates her considerable gift for taking familiar themes and working them into contemporary, accessible forms. Having debunked the beauty industry in her highly successful debut, The Beauty Myth, her latest offering deals with the childbirth "industry"--for industry indeed it is. The horrific experiences of her own pregnancies brought home the shocking reality that childbirth is treated as a production line, with mothers being shunted along as quickly as possible. Worse, as in any other industry, expediency equals good productivity. In terms of insurance and litigation concerns, though not necessarily the interests of mothers and babies, surgical intervention is "good business sense"--the thinking behind the progressive rise in Caesareans and episiotomies in both US and British hospitals. Wolf also makes the link between the rise of Obstetrics and the parallel undermining of midwifery: the new practice having to justify itself through a disproportionate emphasis on the risks of childbirth and then offering hi-tech solutions to counter them. Charting her own personal journey, she explores society's attitudes to birth and motherhood, and how these are reflected by social and medical policy. Higher-brow peers may accuse her of pandering to populism but her combination of intimate confessional and feminist agenda makes for compelling and easily digestible reading, and as Wolf points out, Misconceptions contains a significant amount of new, in-depth research. Read it and wake up to some uncomfortable truths. --Rebecca Johnson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Wolf's many bold demands... give us pause and present challenges: society should restructure itself to accommodate babies Guardian 20020614 Wolf's polemic is as clear and sure as ever Observer 20020614 Misconceptions reminds us that pregnancy and birth are still swaddled in layers of illusion, that our society remains criminally hypocritical toward mothers... Naomi Wolf goes much deeper here than she ever has before. She strips bare the mind of the pregnant woman and new mother with dazzling courage -- Erica Jong Fiercely confident and uncompromising Publishers Weekly 20020614

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I have read a variety of pregnancy books, but this is the only one which focuses on the emotional changes women go through during pregnancy. It is an honest account of the author's experiences during her pregnancy which takes the reader through all nine months and discusses both the physical and emotional changes she is undergoing.
What struck a chord with me is that she does not negate the existence of conflicting emotions. They are explained by the fact that first-time mothers have to say "good-bye" to their former selves and construct a new self as mothers, which can be a painful process. Apart from a personal account, it is also a sociological study of motherhood in the industrialised word which is characterised by partriarchial and profit-orientated institutions which do not cater for the female and non-profit making experience of child-bearing and rearing. Some aspects of the book are not particularly relevant for British readers, since the author's experiences reflect the particularities of US society and especially of US medical institutions. The only flaw of the book is the epilogue which is full of the kind of feminist utopia familiar to readers of "The Women's Room" by Marilyn French. I wholeheartedly recommend the book as complementary reading to all the pregnancy books dealing with the physical aspects of pregnancy.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most honest account about pregnancy 17 Sep 2001
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I went to a bookshop and bought about 5 books. I wanted to know as much as I could in order to make informed decisions. Naomi Wolf's 'Misconceptions' beated all of the other 4 glossy books with detailed illustrations. Although focusing on the American Health Care system, she brings pregnancy into the political sphere with the most honest account of her own experience: 'Where are the roles models for pregnant women?, she questions while exposing the treatment of mothers to be as insane and children as commodities. Every pregnant woman should read this book before reaching the shelves for patronising, out of date publications that treat expectant mothers as if they had the same mentality as their babies. The book is a humane account that if taken seriously might be able to ignate positive changes in the society.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking book on family relationships 19 Feb 2002
By A Customer
I found this book interesting and readable, although it's clearly describing the experiences of American women, and I like to think that in England women giving birth are treated much more humanely (partly because midwives in this country have more clout than they apparently do in America)! Perhaps the book will make women think twice about asking for an epidural, since it can lead to many more forms of intervention. It's rather a pity that Naomi Wolf is so prejudiced against "natural childbirth" - which she fails to investigate in any detail.
The most significant aspect for me is Naomi's articulation of the change in the relationship (or balance of power) between wife and husband which follows a child's birth. Women and men, who have been equals up to this point, are suddenly faced with all the old stereotypes kicking in, and it's very hard to fight against them. She describes this dilemma well, although she offers few solutions.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By M Hill
... but bordering on infuriating for mothers who've already been there.
Wolfe tells the emotional story of her own pregnancy in such agonising detail it does feel at times as though she is the only woman who has ever been pregnant and found it less then absolutely brilliant.
Interestingly, her experience of being a mother (as opposed to a mother-to-be) fades to the background in the later part of the book and Wolfe gives other women a chance to complain.
While this sounds negative, she provides very valuable food for thought (not necessarily gospel truth, mind) for pregnant women about to be inducted into the Mother Club for the first time. Misconceptions will also be an important book for future historians and sociologists who will hopefully be shocked at how little mothers - and indeed children - were valued at the turn of the millennium.
For mothers who don't have a hobby (or profession) in gender studies, Misconceptions will make mildly irritating reading. There isn't anything in here that mothers don't already know and Wolfe doesn't provide very many practical solutions. Her willingness to point out the faults of Western culture is not helped by her peculiar eagerness to believe, and without much evidence, that less-industrialised cultures are much better places for mothers.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book gave me a sinking feeling 14 May 2002
By A Customer
I am a feminist myself and The Beauty Myth was a crucial text in developing my views. I'm now planning a family and my (very enlightened) husband bought Misconceptions, read it and raved about it. I started reading it, and while I agree with many of her views I found it grindingly negative reading. It instilled fear and depression in me about what I was letting myself in for: losing my figure, my youth, my independence, and so on. I'm not sure this is what feminists should be doing to one another.
It's great that Wolf is normalising the ambivalence of maternal feelings, but her emphasis on the negative is just too disheartening for me.
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