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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  1,282 ratings  ·  192 reviews
Every year, millions of women have their lives turned inside out by the experience of pregnancy. A contemporary woman find herself caught in an absurd paradox: while in the grip of one of the most primal, lonely, sensual and, in some ways, psychologically debilitating and physically dangerous experiences, she is overwhelmed by invasive, trivialising and infantilising cultu...more
Published October 3rd 2002 by Vintage (first published May 19th 1999)
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Jan 19, 2008 sdw rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not just for mommies-to-be (everyone needs to think more about the politics of reproductive labor)
The heteronormativity of this book made me want to scream. This book doesn’t seem to consider the perspectives of mommies who aren’t white, upper-middle class, and married to loving feminist husbands who are also white and upper-middle class. One woman I spoke with while reading this book stated “I felt like it was an argument for ‘class trumps everything’.” Faced with motherhood, Naomi Wolf decides to become everything her class and race position encourages her to be as “mother”, and then compl...more
blech. more like one & a half stars, maybe? this was the last book i read before i gave birth to ramona. kind of a weird book to go out on.

this book was incredibly self-indulgent. basically, naomi wolf got pregnant & made the same mistake that every pregnant-for-the-first-time woman makes in thinking that no one has ever been pregnant before in the history of humanity. it would also appear that she knew next to nothing about pregnancy or birth or the medical model of maternity care or an...more
I read this soon after I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. It was a completely chance finding as I browsed in a bookshop in Clapham. At the time I just wanted something that was a little more personal than all the slightly scary pregnancy manuals that everyone seemed to think I should be reading. Serendipity or not, this is a very good book and I would heartily reccomend it. As a social critique of the whole pregnancy business and all it's attendant obsessions and fads it is immensely u...more
missy lambert
For the first 264 pages I was ready to give this book 5 enthusiastic stars. Wolf intertwines her personal experiences with careful research into the state of the maternal health care in the U.S. I really related to the personal experiences she relates: a traumatic c-section, mild PPD, the strange mixture of confusion and bliss that accompany the arrival of a new baby. I especially "enjoyed" her analysis of our hospital system that offers very few choices to laboring women, and that commonly igno...more
Jul 28, 2007 Sarae rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any expecting parent
Shelves: pregnancy
Feminist author Naomi Wolf's mix of personal story and in-depth research made for a super-easy read that was fillied with information about what people don't expect (in Wolf's opinion, what mothers are kept from being able to expect) about pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenthood. Most interesting (and frightening) for me was learning about the way the hospitals and doctors handle birth - keeping themselves safe from malpractice is above the woman's (and at times, the baby's) experience, and...more
Katie K
Great book for mom's or women who would like to be moms someday. Don't be put off by the feminist writer. She takes a very balanced view of the whole birthing process and how over "medicalized" it has become. Not to say that I am not grateful for modern medicine. There is just a lot of hooey that you get from hospitals and insurance companies trying to placate you with birthing rooms and hot water whirpools, when in the end they care more about the bottom line and not being sued. I also like how...more
As someone trying to have a baby, I'm really glad to have read this book (thanks Elita!). It gave me a lot to think about, and started many conversations with my husband about things that concerned me about life with a baby. Since most of images of motherhood are all positive and don't touch on any negative sides of the process, I was especially happy to have this book to point out some downsides. I feel like it's much better to know about them ahead of time!
This was the book that changed everything for me.

It was my first pregnancy and I had no idea, so I did what a person like me does... I headed to the local library!! I stumbled across this book and it changed the way I thought about pregnancy and birth.

I had a couple of experiences around other births, I had seen two family members give birth. I remember being at the hospital waiting for my sister-in-law to give birth and ushering in the room when she did. I knew nothing and all I cared about wa...more
Basically the antithesis to What to Expect. She even talks about WTEWYE early on, and how it's meant to soothe. This book is anything but soothing, but I appreciated very much the stormy emotionality of it. Given that I mostly hated pregnancy for a good two months, it was nice to read something that waded around moodily about it, that offered no rainbows, etc. A little too dark? Probably. The chapter on pregnancy-as-facing-impending death is troublesome. But, I also, so far, prefer ignorance abo...more
I found this to be an eye-opening critique of maternity practices in the U.S. This book is not without its flaws (not the least of them the ethnocentric viewpoint), but it weaves the personal, political, and cultural together into a compelling read. Not just for pregnant women, Wolf has written a well-researched book about topics that makes the usual "What to Expect" language about pregnancy and birthing look all-too-tame. Really, though, who doesn't get squeamish thinking about things like epis...more
I couldn't finish it. I rarely do that.
I found the ethnocentricity exceedingly overpowering, and the privilege of moneyed whiteness to be a big yawn.
If you want a good feminist read on the role of birthing, breastfeeding and mothering then read Gabrielle Palmer's "The Politics of Breastfeeding" - that will really take you into socio-economic dynamics, commercial protectionism and the patriarchy with MUCH more vigour, zero self-consciousness, and a real discussion on sexual politics.
And, then, f...more
Tonya Wertman
I am almost eight months pregnant and as my husband and I begin to develop our birth plan, I feel like I read this book in just the nick of time. I finished it in two days and not a moment too soon....

I have read a pile of books about pregnancy and motherhood and this is definitely one of the most important and useful ones. I found it an incredible relief...as soon as I started reading the 'truths' about pregnancy and found myself all over her pages, the ugly realities that other books don't wan...more
I liked this book alot. I read it while I was pregnant and it was refreshing to have an "academic" perspective on motherhood. Of all the material I read during my pregnancy, this is the only book that even approached the subject of "loss of self" upon becoming a mother. Motherhood is very difficult and made harder in the U.S. by the attitudes that prevail. The government pays alot of lip service to family values, yet maternity leave is uncertain for most and paternity leave is almost unheard of....more
Jan 27, 2008 Ellen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jen Drey, both Nancys, Stacey, any new or expectant parents
It wasn't that this book was bad, it was just a bit extreme to me in some areas. Specifically, while Wolf's opinions on the "medicalization" of pregnancy and birth are shared by many women, I continue to count my lucky stars that such medical interventions exist. I did love how the author continually discounts the "wisdom" of What To Expect When You Are Expecting (see my review if you have any doubt of my feelings). Also, I could strongly relate to the chapter on the unfairness in the division o...more
Sep 05, 2008 Jenevieve rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Feminists, Mothers, Feminist Mothers and anyone even considering Motherhood
Recommended to Jenevieve by: Found it at the library
I wish some wise woman in my life would have handed this book to me as soon as I found out I was pregnant. It really would have saved me a lot of pain and isolation and fear. Naomi Wolf is as candid and lovingly honest and sardonic as she can be about the journey to contemporary Motherhood and I identified with almost everything she described. This was up to and including the momentary death of all previous notions of feminism and self which lead to a rebirth of a more fleshed out and stronger (...more
Sarah Cannon
Interesting book - it lends new insight into our current medical profession through the lens of laboring practices. The last few chapters discuss new American family dynamics from a feminist perspective. The author uses a combination of statistics, quotes from the medical community, interviews with new mothers, and her own personal journey as evidence in this manifesto. I found her rhetoric both informative and endearing. Her honesty in describing her own post-partum depression and birth trauma...more
YES this book reeks of self-indulgence, entitlement and ethnocentricity. It's essentially a book about the shock of being white middle/upper class and being the only woman ever to fall pregnant.
That said, Wolf clearly writes from a highly personalized perspective, and as such this was always going to be a subjective experience rather than a broad overview of pregnancy.

Personally, I had a love/hate relationship with this book. There were so many occasions in which I felt Wolf giving a voice to...more
Dripping with entitlement on every page. Newsflash: upper middle class women used to getting everything on a silver platter discover as they approach now-or-never childbearing years that -quelle horreur!- there is no one to hold their hands through pregnancy & childbirth. Beware of the high-pitched whining throughout. It makes for a difficult read.
This book is busted. It's about all the terrible injustices a rich white highly educated straight married woman experiences when she is pregnant. For example, she's not thin anymore and people seem to treat her differently. Can you believe it??
Maryann J-D
a quick, enlightening read. i read ina may's guide to childbirth a few months ago, and a lot of what is covered in this book is also touched upon (often more in-depth) in her book. however, i really appreciated the personal viewpoint in this book -- particularly the look at how being pregnant can affect and change a woman personally, how that came come at odds with your feminist viewpoints and ideals (and how to reconcile the two), and how pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood can also really ove...more
I would have given it four stars but there was just too much biological essentialist, women are hormones, stuff going on for my taste
Momm DePlume
Naomi Wolf prattles on and all I end up reading is blah blah blah
Andrea Paterson
Possibly the most insightful book on pregnancy, childbirth, and becoming a mother that I have read yet. Wolf just gets it. She writes a scathing critique of the birth industry in the United States, while still providing hope for better birth experiences for women. Her own willingness to share her dark anxieties and fears about birthing and motherhood was reassuring and revealing. She finds the darkest corners of the journey and shines light into them and she celebrates all that is mysterious and...more
Leslie Mojeiko
Misconceptions is all about the "ugly" side of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. While it's nice that something like this exists that's not sugar-coated, I had a really hard time reading it. Everything was so negative and it made me feel guilty for having a good pregnancy, childbirth, and feeling happy about being a mother. Why does every sentence in this book have to be a complaint, rant, or pity party? Parts of it felt judgmental or made me feel shame - for instance, when she discusses mo...more
(Non-Fiction--Motherhood) My thoughts on this book waver quite a bit. On the positive side, I respect Wolf for her research and her poignant, honest writing style. I am also grateful that she was so willing to share her and her friends' bad experiences with doctors, giving birth, recovery, and the strains that were placed on their bodies, their emotions, and their relationships. On the negative side, I wanted more advice from the well-researched Wolf. When she wrote about her friends' resenting...more
Kate Ditzler
Naomi Wolf's book about her own journey to motherhood was really wrenching. It was a book that I started reading while first trimester pregnant and nauseous, unable to sleep at night because of the discomfort -- but yet still exhausted. Two hours later, I scribbled the first of many lists and drafts of questions for my future midwife, trying to decide if the Alternative Birthing Center that I was about to tour was truly alternative, or simply a draw to lure me in for a c-section.

I had my husban...more
I found the style annoying at times - some of the "discoveries" made by the writer sounded pretty common sense to me, but perhaps that's the time and space making a difference. The discussion of abortion did not impress me at all, and I thought her speaking about her privilege - as if it was a burden - felt a bit fake at times. But I did enjoy the focus given to the repercussions of the pregnancy and parenthood on straight couples. I still think she was a bit too apologetic in her description of...more
Margaret Samuels
Because I’m a natural birth and women’s rights advocate, and a birth junkie, I thought for sure I would enjoy this analysis of how our society’s view of birth negatively affects women, especially psychologically. In part I, Wolf’s overly dramatic writing style is annoying and makes it difficult to take her seriously. While her assertions are backed up by research, it doesn’t seem like she fully researched the issue before making that assertion. For example, she accurately states that most adopti...more
This is the first Naomi Wolf book I have read. I enjoyed reading about her personal thoughts and feelings about her own pregnancy. With regard to her views on the hospital system, whilst her anecdotes were compelling- I think she was almost bordering on propaganda on how pro- mid-wife she was. To some extent I agree with her assertion that there is not enough support for mid-wife driven pregnancies. But she does not delve into the fundamental reasons why this may have occurred other than 'ominou...more
Kate Lansky
When I picked up this book, I admit that I wasn't quite expecting what I got. I figured it would read kind of like Pushed - what I got was something else entirely. What I got was Naomi Wolf's personal experiences beautifully framing an anthropological look at birth in America through interviews with friends and other acquaintances.

Naomi is a bit of a poet, I think. She is a strong woman, a feminist, an artist. It was very easy to identify with her as a human being, to see in her a reflection of...more
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  • The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women
  • Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution
  • Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety
  • The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Our Lives and Why We Never Talk About It
  • The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued
  • The Maternal Is Political: Women Writers at the Intersection of Motherhood and Social Change
  • Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes
  • The Birth Partner
  • The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth
  • Gentle Birth Choices
  • The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?
  • Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent
  • A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother
  • Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care
  • Your Best Birth: Know All Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices, and Take Back the Birth Experience
  • Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
  • Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First
  • Birth as an American Rite of Passage
Naomi Wolf is the author of seven books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Beauty Myth, The End of America and Give Me Liberty. She has toured the world speaking to audiences of all walks of life about gender equality, social justice, and, most recently, the defense of liberty in America and internationally. She is the cofounder of the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, which te...more
More about Naomi Wolf...
The Beauty Myth The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot Promiscuities Vagina: A New Biography Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries

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“I thought of how many women told me dispiritedly about how their husbands waited for them to ask—or to make a list—and how demoralizing that was for them. I could not help thinking that there was some element of passive aggression in this recurrent theme of nice men, good, playful dads, full of initiative and motivation at work, who “waited to be asked” to do the more tedious baby-related work at home, until the asking was finally scaled back or stopped.” 0 likes
“It is not biology alone but heroism too that drives women to find the will and grit and creativity to put one’s own impulses aside to serve the needs of a tiny creature around the clock—especially in an environment in which that heroic choice is only casually acknowledged, much less honored, cherished, or assisted. I believe the myth about the ease and naturalness of mothering—the ideal of the effortlessly ever-giving mother—is propped up, polished, and promoted as a way to keep women from thinking clearly and negotiating forcefully about what they need from their partners and from society at large in order to mother well, without having to sacrifice themselves in the process.” 0 likes
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