Charity's Reviews > Hands Off My Belly: The Pregnant Woman's Survival Guide to Myths, Mothers, and Moods

Hands Off My Belly by Shawn A. Tassone
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's review
Nov 21, 2009

did not like it
bookshelves: birth
Read in December, 2009 , read count: 1 (too many)

I wasn't overly impressed with this book. Here are some of the things I found lacking:

1) It wasn't well researched. They basically seemed to rely on whatever knowledge they actually had and a few web searches. I was not impressed with the fact that more than once they said "A Web site says..." without saying which Web site. Seriously, they could have found the primary reference if they'd put in a little work. Another example, they mentioned that there might be health risks to eating one's placenta. You don't need to look far to find that eating one's own placenta is unlikely to carry any risks (that the risks come in when you consume someone else's placenta). And yet another example: they gave incomplete information about using lactational amenhorrea as birth control. One of the very important factors is to have all of baby's suckling be at the breast. Any thumb sucking, finger sucking, bottles, or pacifiers decrease the effectiveness of this method. And they recommended moms contact "their local La Leche League office." Had they even bothered to talk to a live Leader, they would know this is not how LLL is set up. Although I appreciate that they pointed moms to LLL. Oh, and another one: they talk about "good nutrition" but nothing about how protein intake can actually reverse preeclampsia.

2) They made fairly strong recommendations to avoid a practice even if they admitted to having inadequate information about it (eg, placentophagy. They said, we don't know about this, but we think you shouldn't do it.)

3) What's the point of this book anyway? These myths aren't hurting anyone. Who cares if someone thinks I'm having a girl because I'm wide all over, or that I'm having a boy because I'm carrying out in front? It seemed to me the point was "ask your doctor. They'll tell you all the truth behind these myths." The myths that really should have been addressed are the myths that exist in the routine practice of obstetrics. But there's already a book about that by Henci Goer.

4) The tone is patronizing and the book is poorly written. They leave sentences hanging so they don't make any sense. They say at the beginning of the infertility section that infertility is just as often caused by the man as it is by the woman, then they go on to explain in detail, page after page, all of the things that affect women's fertility and none of the causes of male infertility.

5) They express too many opinions. They say "don't eat your placenta," but then they go on and on about how great an idea it is to plant your placenta under a tree.

6) What the heck is up with the section about how the 7 deadly sins relate to pregnant women? I actually found that kind of offensive.

So, I just wasn't impressed. I think it was a totally unnecessary book. Now, if they had endeavored to explain the cultural and psychological reasons these myths continue to exist, I might have been interested. But they didn't. They just gave a very incomplete version of a "doctor-knows-best" pregnancy and birth book, including the obligatory "here's someone who planned a natural birth and look how I saved her with surgery" anecdote. It would have been better had they done more research, talked to actual people, and got off their high horse about how awesome they are that they let moms try for natural birth while lying in their hospital beds.
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Shawn Tassone, MD 1). I would beg to differ. The book was very well research and actually much time was taken to utilize studies, books, and websites as resources. No one wants to read a book that is so overtly scientific that it makes it unreadable. Maybe this reviewer was wanting to read more of a textbook about pregnancy, but I think most readers were wanting something a bit more light.

2). I would stand by statements about placentophagy. Obviously you have your opinions and I have mine.

3). The book by Henci Goer is old and outdated and our book covers more territory than that book. The point of this book is actually what you state in the sense that many of the questions are routinely asked by patients and that is exactly why the need for the book

4). This is not a book about male factor fertility. Besides that was cut by the editor and not a decision made by the authors.

5). We didn't say it was a great idea to plant your placenta. We said that it is done in certain cultures and it is obvious you are upset about our opinion regarding palcentophagy, but it is our opinion

6). There is no reference to the fact that the seven deadly sins are related to pregnancy. The reference is to the fact that seven is a culturally mythical number and you must have had read the section or this would have been more obvious

It is more obvious that this book was not to your liking because it was written by physicians, but we are actually keenly aware of the needs of our patients and never feel like we save people from a natural birth, actually we encourage our patients to have the birth they want. Sorry this was not your cup of tea.

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