MOTHER NURTURE: A Mother’s Guide to health in body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships

By Rick Hanson, Ph.D., Jan Hanson, L.Ac., and Ricki Pollycove, M.D.

Reviewed by Roberta Waters

With new emphasis being placed on women’s health and studies to learn more about how women deal with life and medication differently than men, I was excited as I held a fresh-off-the-press copy of this book in my hands…excited until I opened the first few pages, that is.

Upon lifting the cover, we discover the authors have a whopping three children (two girls and a boy) between them and the Hanson’s are married! In Pollycove’s biography, we learn that she is both a “medical expert” and a “women’s health expert.”

In line three of chapter one, verification of my fears appears with the phrase, “In our practices…” So, now we know, this book is going to tell us how they properly fix something they determine is wrong with us based on the poor schmucks who saw them in some capacity as professionals.

Complete Mother readers will be especially disgusted to read their feelings about breastfeeding: “We generally recommend it.” (page 8) And this gem from page 9, “Breast-feeding rarely proceeds without one troublesome hitch or another, especially in the beginning.”

The family bed? Obviously they’ve never heard of it and they expect everyone who reads this book to keep their babies in a cute little crib in the baby’s room: “You are probably the one, not your partner, who stumbles down the hall at night to tend to a baby with an ear infection, deals with child care hassles…”

Childbirth? Don’t forget they have an “expert” on board, with Dr. Pollycove: “Older mothers are less able to weather a pregnancy, are more prone to fatigue and illness…” (page 11). They claim genetics may play a role, too: “Your relatives may have had …obstetric complications, or other conditions that raise your risk for similar problems.”

“If you belong to a group of women with higher risks-such as childbirth past age thirty…”

What do these three experts know about children? They describe a “case” of an 18-month-old who is “strong-willed.” Her crimes are that “At night (she) woke up several times and would cry for hours until someone picked her up.” Doesn’t that break your heart? Why wasn’t this precious little babe in her parent’s bed? Why were these loving parents forcing this baby to cry for hours without consolation? Are these people Enzo followers? I gave up even trying to read this book after this description of child abuse, when it became clear the real intention of the book.

These authors, being “experts” have discovered a new problem with women! They’ve termed it “Depleted Mother Syndrome” (DMS). Although they claim to have found ways to prevent and correct this health problem, they failed to look carefully at the population they studied.

It’s obvious that all the women they used to make this new discovery were women who followed in lock-step with the medical theory of healthcare: prenatal care and hospital birth with obstetricians, bottle feeding or token breastfeeding, immunizations on schedule, new mother back to work as soon as possible, junk food diet, etc.

The authors claim that childbirth is not a medical event, yet there is no mention of midwives anywhere in the book, although it is highly likely that midwifery clients may very rarely exhibit the so-called symptoms of depleted mother syndrome. Doctors of all stripes are mentioned, however – doctor, gynecologist, obstetrician, pediatrician.

These bourgeois writers must be rolling in the dough because when it comes to health care they write, “ Many people, including us, use several practitioners for different things. Perhaps an HMO doctor handles your annual physical exam …while other licensed individuals have primary responsibility for helping you with other, chronic, subclinical conditions such as DMS.”

Many people, like me, have no health insurance and do not get annual physicals. Many people also depend for some or much of their health care on highly trained, but unlicensed individuals (midwife, massage therapist, cranio-sacral, nutritional guidance, etc.)

Skip this derogatory and demeaning book which merely finds yet another problem with women and blames the child, the women’s partner or the woman herself. Another variation on the medical theme of blame the woman: “you needed the cesarean because your baby was in the wrong position…your baby’s head got cut because your uterus was too thin…you needed forceps because your uterus was tired…you can’t breastfeed because your breasts are too small, too large, your milk is too thin, too rich...”

Instead of wasting time reading this book, do some acts of random kindness! Write your midwife a thank you for helping you birth in a way that empowered you, for supporting breastfeeding and teaching you how to improve your diet and be a great mother. Tell your partner thank you for the support. Then, do something outrageously fun with the kids.

BREASTFEED

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