Expecting Better : Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong?and What YouReally Need to Know
What to Expect When You're Expecting meets Freakonomics: an award-winning economist disproves standard recommendations about pregnancy to empower women while they're expecting
Pregnancyâunquestionably one of the most proÂfound, meaningful experiences of adulthoodâcan reduce otherwise intelligent women to, well, babies. Weâre told to avoid cold cuts, sushi, alcohol, and coffee, but arenât told why these are forbidden. Rules for prenatal testing are hard and fastâand unexplained. Are these recommendations even correct? Are all of them right for every mom-to-be? In Expecting Better, award-winning economist Emily Oster proves that pregnancy rules are often misguided and sometimes flat-out wrong.
A mom-to-be herself, Oster debunks the myths of pregnancy using her particular mode of critical thinking: economics, the study of how we get what we want. Oster knows that the value of anythingâa home, an amniocentesisâis in the eyes of the informed beholder, and like any compliÂcated endeavor, pregnancy is not a one-size-fits-all affair. And yet medicine often treats it as such. Are doctors working from bad data? Are well-meaning friends and family perpetuating false myths and raising unfounded concerns? Osterâs answer is yes, and often.
Pregnant women face an endless stream of decisions, from the casual (Can I eat this?) to the frightening (Is it worth risking a miscarriage to test for genetic defects?). Expecting Better presents the hard facts and real-world advice youâll never get at the doctorâs office or in the existing literature. Osterâs revelatory work identifies everything from the real effects of caffeine and tobacco to the surprising dangers of gardening.
Any expectant mother knows that the health of her baby is paramount, but she will be less anxious and better able to enjoy a healthy pregnancy if she is informed . . . and can have the occasional glass of wine.
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Numbers are not subject to someone elseâs interpretationâmath doesnât lie. Expectant economist Emily Oster set out to inform parents-to-be about the truth of pregnancy using the most up-to-date data so that they can make the best decisions for their pregnancies. The results she found were often very surprisingâ¦
Â· Itâs fine to have the occasional glass of wine â even one every day â in the second and third trimesters.
Â· There is nothing to fear from sushi, but do stay away from raw milk cheese.
Â· Sardines and herring are the fish of choice to give your child those few extra IQ points.
Â· There is no evidence that bed rest is helpful in preventing or treating any complications of pregnancy.
Â· Many unnecessary labor inductions could be avoided by simply staying hydrated.
Â· Epidurals are great for pain relief and fine for your baby, but they do carry some risks for mom.
Â· Limiting women to ice chips during labor is an antiquated practice; you should at least be able to sneak in some Gatorade.
Â· You shouldnât worry about dyeing your hair or cleaning the catâs litter box, but gardening while pregnant can actually be risky.
Â· Hot tubs, hot baths, hot yoga: avoid (at least during the first trimester).
Â· You should be more worried about gaining too little weight during pregnancy than gaining too much.
Â· Most exercise during pregnancy is fine (no rock climbing!), but there isnât much evidence that it has benefits. Except for exercising your pelvic floor with Kegels: that you should be doing.
Â· Your eggs do not have a 35-year-old sell-by date: plenty of women get pregnant after 35 and there is no sudden drop in fertility on your birthday.
Â· Miscarriage risks from tests like the CVS and Amniocentesis are far lower than cited by most doctors.
Â· Pregnancy nausea may be unpleasant, but itâs a good sign: women who are sick are less likely to miscarry.
Expecting Better gives moms-to-be a big helping of peace of mind! Oster debunks many tired old myths and shines a light on issues that really matter.
—Harvey, Karp, MD, bestselling author of The Happiest Baby Guide to Sleep and The Happiest Baby on the Block
—Pamela Druckerman, New York Times bestselling author of Bringing Up Bébé and Bébé Day by Day
Expecting Better is a fascinating and reassuring tour of pregnancy and childbirth, with data leading the way at every juncture. From start to finish, Oster easily leads us through the key findings of the extant pregnancy-related research. My only regret is that my wife and I had three children without the benefit of this insightful approach.
—Charles Wheelan, New York Times bestselling author of Naked Statistics
The only antidote to pregnancy anxiety is facts, and Emily Oster has them in spades. Disarmingly personal and easy to read, this book is guaranteed to cut your freaking out in half. Pregnancy studies has a new heroine. Every pregnant woman will cheer this book—and want to take Oster out for a shot of espresso.
—Rachel Simmons, New York Times bestselling author of Curse of the Good Girl
This is a fascinating—and reassuring—look at the most important numbers of your pregnancy. It will make parents-to-be rethink much of the conventional wisdom: think bed rest is a good idea? Think again. This may be the most important book about pregnancy you read.
—Steven D. Levitt, New York Times bestselling co-author of Freakonomics
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The Penguin Press
August 20, 2013
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