An award-winning social scientist uses the tools of economics to debunk myths about pregnancy and to empower women to make better decisions while they're expecting.
Pregnancy is full of rules. Pregnant women are often treated as if they were children, given long lists of items to avoid - alcohol, caffeine, sushi - without any real explanation from their doctors about why. They hear frightening and contradictory myths from friends and pregnancy books about everything from weight gain to sleeping on your back to bed rest. Economist Emily Oster believes there is a better way. In Expecting Better, she shows that the information given to pregnant women is sometimes wrong and almost always oversimplified, and she debunks a host of standard recommendations on everything from drinking to fetal testing.
When Oster was expecting her first child, she felt powerless to make the right decisions. How doctors think and what patients need are two very different things. So Oster drew on her own experience and went in search of the real facts about pregnancy using an economist’s tools. Economics is not just a study of finance. It’s the science of determining value and making informed decisions. To make a good decision, you need to understand the information available to you and to know what it means to you as an individual.
Take alcohol. We all know that Americans are cautious about drinking during pregnancy. Official recommendations call for abstinence. But Oster argues that the medical research doesn’t support this; the vast majority of studies show no impact from an occasional drink. The few studies that do condemn light drinking are deeply flawed, including one in which the light drinkers were also heavy cocaine users.
Expecting Better overturns standard recommendations for alcohol, caffeine, sushi, bed rest, and induction while putting in context the blanket guidelines for fetal testing, weight gain, risks of pregnancy over the age of 35, nausea, and more. Oster offers the real-world advice one would never get at the doctor’s office. The health of your baby is paramount, and with this practical guide readers can know more and worry less. Having the numbers is a tremendous relief - and so is the occasional glass of wine.
©2013 Emily Oster (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
No. I haven't finished listening, but I'm disappointed by the references to charts and tables that I cannot see. Of course, this is to be expected in an audio book, but the reader doesn't really accommodate for this at all. I've seen other audio books with downloadable references - this book needs that feature!
Overall lots of great info! I read some of the excerpts online, but the book is worth reading for the detailed info it provides.
In this wonderful book Dr. Oster provides many benefits. A brisk and enjoyable read. A great guide to the ins-and-outs of getting and (hopefully) staying pregnant. Evidence-based advice on why it is usually fine to continue living normally while pregnant, as well as warnings about the few real no-nos (like smoking and some queso dips). And clever practical advice, like how to find the ingredients for a proven safe and effective morning sickness cure in your local supermarket.
Yes, I would. Basically, I find most studies and "facts" about what you should and shouldn't do during pregnancy to leave me with more questions and doubt about their validity than I had before. To put it bluntly: most of it seems like a crock of crap, which is why this book is great. Emily Oster, writer and professor at the University of Chicago, breaks down what makes a study worth looking into and what makes it not worth getting yourself worked up over. The bottom line of the book is just listen to your body, listen to your healthcare professional, and then make the best decisions for you and your baby. There are too many variables out there to quantify and qualify everything it is said you should and shouldn't do, which has always been my thought all along. A lot of studies and books out there merely look at correlations (and not in very large or long term sample groups) and not causality before they put their stamp of approval on something. Then there is the whole cultural and lawsuit bias which swings things too. Bottom line: If you feel you've become a worrying pregnant nut job, read this book and relax. Unless you are an obese crack addict, jumping on trampolines with chainsaws and playing "Edward 40 Hands," you don't really need to change your lifestyle too much.
I can not say enough about this book in the face of all the opinion based pregnancy books out there. I only recommend my friends read two books, this and Dr Sears.
THat is because after reading 20 plus books so far, I find they are like my family, they tell me what worked for them without any supporting evidence other then, "and little Johnny turned out great!" Based on that theory, smoking is ok because grandpa lived to be 102 and smoked since he was 12.
Sadly, that is not how I want to raise my kid. I want to know the facts, the numbers behind why something is bad or good. I want to know doing XYZ leads to an 5% increase of ABC. Most books don't tell you that. They say things like "Drinking any alcohol during pregnancy, has been shown to increase aggressiveness in children later in life." What they don't tell you is this study was done on cocaine addicted mothers who also drank. So you be the judge, was it the 1 glass of wine or the coke that created the problem? At least you have all the information to make your own decisions. That is what I love most about this book, she lets you judge what is "good" or "bad" by giving you all the information. Most books offer half the information to support the authors declaration of "do this, don't do that"
She also tells you the questions to ask your Dr when your Dr declares thing things you should or shouldn't do. Like, what tests to have done or not have done and the risk to your age group of it. She encourages you to challenge your Dr when they say, you have an increased chance of this or that. Ask your Dr how much increased, are we talking 1 in 20 (5%), 1 in 2 (50%) or 1 in 200 (.05%), because many time Drs treat that as the same. Her example is more drastic where the Dr can't differentiate between 1 in 50, 1 in 500 or 1 in 5000.
The long story short is she gives you the facts and lets you determine what you are comfortable risking. This is much better then blind advice.
A MUST READ for all pregnant women who are seeking more information on what out dated norms, the internet, your friends and even your doctor's may or may not tell you about the dos and don'ts of pregnancy. This book does not preach the information, she does not even tell you what you should or should not be doing. This book is simply researched information in order for you to make an educated decision on what works or may not work for you in your pregnancy. Don't listen to your friends....read this book instead and be your own decision maker and do what is best for you and your baby!
This was a fabulous read, and I'd recommend it for every pregnant woman. It looks at the facts behind many pregnancy "legislation" (e.g., no drinking wine / alcohol) and looks at the reason why these rules were made (e.g., outdated, poorly controlled studies), why they are false (e.g., via new, well-designed studies), and why they persist (e.g., physician's patronizing belief that, if given information such as, "1 glass of wine / day has NO proven negative affect on pregnancy/baby development... only repeated incidences of binge drinking [and cocaine use] does," pregnant women will interpret, "I can drink as much as I want"). Other topics which are covered in depth include: sleeping on one's side, avoiding specific foods (e.g., fish, meats, sushi), avoiding certain tasks (e.g., gardening, cleaning cat littler, hot yoga), birth plans, natural vs. c-section vs. epidural vs. home births, banking cord blood, etc. I plan to buy the hard copy for my husband to read and for myself to have on hand.
Moreover, I wish all friends and family of pregnant women would read this book, so that women, as a whole, can approach pregnancy not as a competition to put ourselves/sisters/friends on the backburner in order to provide/deprive our fetuses the "most," according to archaic rules; rather, this book encourages us to act as we would in our daily lives by making informed, accurate decisions about what's best for us and our children.
The narrator did a terrific job. With nonfiction books, I like to consider if I saw the author on the street and went to shake her hand (which I would undoubtedly do for Ms. Oster), if I would be shocked to hear her voice was different than the narrator. In this case, I completely would! She explained the text, making it seem accessible and conversational. And, for a lot of statistical reporting, this was no easy task!
I am just beginning my pregnancy journey, (haven't stopped using birth control) but this was the foundation I was hoping for when considering all my options.
We are having a baby. I am a professor with a PhD from MIT. I think about things very carefully and I want to approach fatherhood in the same way. This book is an impressive, careful weighing of the evidence on each of the key decisions during pregnancy. The opportunity to actually be presented with a crisp and critical reading of the evidence on each issue is truly impressive. Thank you Emily for taking the tremendous care to write such a useful and enlightening book. The narrator is clear. This isn't a work of literature, but it's an evidence based guide through every key question you might have.
I love her honesty - she attempts to be objective by only looking at the numbers and what is actually known, but also admits when she had a personal preference and why she chose to go the direction that she did. I also love that, in the end, she says everyone has to make up her mind for herself and weigh the benefits against the risks.
I really can't compare, since I only read one other pregnancy book and it was written very differently.
I love that Oster used hard evidence and fact-based view points. Her background in Economics makes her an extremely credible observer and aggregator of studies and experiments. The performance by the narrator was also excellent.
It was human, but not over the top. A perfect balance of a little emotion, but not too much to distract from the fact and evidence basis of the text.
Yes, hard to put down.
I was expecting to learn about my wife's hypothetical pregnancy. I did not expect to enjoy the read so much. Well done.
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