Skip to main content

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


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

Last year, when I was pregnant with my first baby, I became the
bane of existence of my ob/gyn. Although recommended by my two
sisters, this doctor made stark and insensitive comments about my
concerns, my issues, my fears about the baby. He almost never
addressed my questions with the kind of respectful and thoughtful
responses I had hoped I would receive. I stopped making
appointments with him and started making them with every other
doctor in the office, but when it came time for me to deliver, he
was the guy on call that day at the hospital. During contractions,
he was busy quizzing some nurse on details of another delivery that
had happened days ago. When we were home from the hospital, safe
and sound, I received bills from his office for several
"procedures" I didn't even know I had had. All in all, it was not
exactly the overall experience I had hoped for --- but my baby was
healthy and safe and my best instincts told me to just be happy and
shut up.

Fine. I'll shut up, but it's nice to know that Naomi Wolf has both
the tenacity and the anger necessary to write MISCONCEPTIONS:
Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood. In a
society where we appropriate so quickly the lessons and experiences
of other cultures (African wraps and proverbs are now part of our
everyday existence, for example, as are foods from all over the
world), we have been shortsighted when it comes to both
advancements and age-old wisdom in respect to health care and the
business of birthing babies. Wolf, whose experiences with her first
birth were less than perfect, manages part-memoir, part-expose on
the interactivity amongst doctors, pharmaceutical companies,
hospitals, and insurance companies in making women feel powerless
during one of the bravest, most dangerous and world-shaking times
of their lives.

Wolf uses her journalistic instincts well here: she backs up her
fears and problems with information from works by Jessica Mitford
and others about the perils of our technological-yet-soulless
medical establishment in the face of one of life's most intense
physical experience. It is rough-going, and all the
happy-earth-mama books about midwifery and doulas and home births
and all those candlelit bonding moments with a new squealing infant
are put in their place --- as happy fairy tales that happen to few
women in America. MISCONCEPTIONS belongs on bookshelves with other
feminist classics that call for self-empowerment. I just wish it
had been written before my pregnancy --- with some of her facts
backing me up, maybe Dr. Napoleon Complex might have learned
something from me.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 22, 2011

Misconceptions: Truth, Lies and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood
by Naomi Wolf

  • Publication Date: September 18, 2001
  • Genres: Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • ISBN-10: 0385493029
  • ISBN-13: 9780385493024