Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Book Review: The Other Baby Book

By Zenparenting1 @ZenParenting1
I have to tell you, I went into this book totally biased. I just KNEW I was going to LURVE it! I typically go at books for reviews with a bit of a critical eye, but this wasn't one of those times. I had high expectations. That being said, I have to be honest and say that I fell short of lurving and have to give it a "like" instead. And I have put off doing this review for so long because of that. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. I don't want to offer up bitchy criticism of people I respect as my peers. I'm genuinely struggling as I write this, but I promised and it's time to stop procrastinating. (Hey, wait, is that the laundry that needs switching over? Aw, shucks, I'll be right back...)
Book Review: The Other Baby Book
Let me start with the great stuff:
- they're obviously of the "Zen Parenting" persuasion and I felt like they were friends chatting with me
- small in size, which isn't as intimidating as the veritable anthologies are to new parents
- they don't mince words when it comes to the formula industry and their nastiness
- very well researched and cited
- handy resource section at the back
- lots of emphasis on instinct
- swaddling and infant massage information that was brand new to me
- the entire "Reframing Normal" subsection is FANTASTIC!
- pro, pro, PRO-breastfeeding
- some good info on direct breastfeeding alternatives
- good info on breastfeeding beyond infancy
- pro-cosleeping with lots of good safety information
- great information on bedding that was new and led me to a future purchase that I never would've normally made
- pro-baby led weaning, which is not something I knew about with my son and I wish I had
Excerpts I dug:
- "One of the easiest and most practical way we access intuition as mothers is by doing the proverbial gut check - vetting ideas or information against the feeling in our bodies." (p. 2)
- "Doctors and hospital personnel tend to teach you what they want you to know, and not stuff like how to prevent tearing or being induced." (p. 8)
- "...birth is a business, and the more customers hospitals serve, the bigger the earnings." (p. 12)
- "Fear-based decisions don't usually bring satisfying results. Control is an illusion, and when we make choices out of fear, we usually end up in a stuck place. Epidurals are a common tool we use to control birth, yet they control us entirely - pinning us to our beds as if we were ill. You'd never know we were about to perform on of the most powerful and miraculous acts of our lives." (p. 23)
- "These days, power isn't often served on a silver platter. But it is ours for the taking, if we know our rights." (p. 32)
- "If physical contact were a competitive sport, the U.S. team would be the consistent loser, year after year. Korean babies are held 90% of the time, as compared with 33% of the time for U.S. babies, who spend most of their infancy in car seats, cribs, and strollers." (p. 52)
- "Women who don't breastfeed have higher rates of breast and ovarian cancer." (p. 61)
- "Introducing formula - yes, even one bottle - has implications. This isn't a judgment. It's simply clinical fact." (p. 63)
Now, the slightly less than great stuff:
- the circumcision section was paltry, not even two pages: four, only FOUR, bullet-points are offered as myth-busters and those aren't even entirely accurate
- the circumcision information wasn't nearly all-encompassing, educational, or definitive enough
- the exclusions for religious circumcision is a no-go for me: three, yes, almost as many as the anti-circ section, bullet-points were given as reasons why religious cutting isn't as bad
- alternative practices to religious circumcision practices weren't mentioned
- elimination communication warranted a full chapter, but things like vaccines and circumcision got stuffed away in a larger chapter
- though it is stated that they are not pro- or anti-vax, I felt the section comes out clearly in favor of vaccinating, even though one of the authors doesn't vaccinate at all
- in my opinion, there was a bit more pandering to the mainstream in effort to not offend than is helpful considering this is marketed as the go-to book for the non-mainstreamers
- some segments implied what those of us in our community understand already, but anyone reading this book with no background in our type of parenting or lifestyle would not get the implications - things need to be spelled out explicitly, especially for new parents who are being bombarded with a ton of information
- great emphasis on IQ, which is important, sure, but leaves little room for focus on other, equally or more important issues
- for a linear thinker, like myself, I found the meanderings off topic and then jags back onto the original path to be jarring
- at one point, it was implied that breastfeeding mothers wouldn't get PPD (or, at least, need meds for it)
- inaccuracies abound
- discussion on why it's important to stay away from soy, but there's no mention of GMOs
- Baby Wise is mentioned, but not warned against (Why bring it up?)
- subsections on sign language, not saying "good job," mattresses, flame retardants in pajamas, and organic cotton bedding each garnered as much and more attention as circumcision
Excerpts I didn't dig as much:
- "Gaining popularity among city slickers and country bumpkins alike..." (p. 55) Offensive...
- "Rapidly switching sides while nursing can help bring your milk faster." (p. 68) Unclear what "rapid" means and I could foresee some whiplash happening here if new moms don't understand.
- "But if you checked no for any of the variables above, we recommend you seek help." (p. 67) Agreed, but from where? This is a great opportunity to talk about IBCLCs that was missed, likely to the detriment of moms and babes everywhere.
- "It's important, however, to keep in mind the two greatest risk factors [for co-sleeping deaths] - extreme poverty and stressful circumstances..." (p. 93) What? A) This isn't even close to true. B) This smacks of privilege. I read this line over and over, brought it to my husband and a trusted friend, and still couldn't come to grips with what they were trying to accomplish with this line.

Final stand: It's leaps and bounds better than the most popular of pregnancy/parenting books. It's not there yet, but I'll take this over What to Expect When You're Expecting ANY day. Until something comes out that covers my passions more thoroughly, I may recommend this book, but only to those who already thoroughly understand the horrors of circumcision and have a good grasp on vaccine pros and cons.

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