In the United States, more than half the women who give birth are given drugs to induce or speed up labor; for nearly a third of mothers, childbirth is major surgery -- the cesarean section. For women who want an alternative, choice is often unavailable: Midwives are sometimes inaccessible; in eleven states they are illegal. In one of those states, even birthing centers are outlawed.When did birth become an emergency instead of an emergence? Since when is normal, physiological birth a crime? A groundbreaking journalistic narrative, Pushed presents the complete picture of maternity care in America. Crisscrossing the country to report what women really experience during childbirth, Jennifer Block witnessed several births - from a planned cesarean to an underground home birth. Against this backdrop, Block investigates whether routine C-sections, inductions, and epidurals equal medical progress. She examines childbirth as a reproductive rights issue: Do women have the right to an optimal birth experience? If so, is that right being upheld? Block's research and experience reveal in vivid detail that while emergency obstetric care is essential, there is compelling evidence that we are overusing medical technology at the expense of maternal and infant health: Either women's bodies are failing, or the system is failing women.
According to writer and editor Block (Our Bodies, Ourselves), the United States has the most intense and widespread medical management of birth in the world, and yet rank near the bottom among industrialized countries in maternal and infant mortality. Block shows how, in transforming childbirth into a business, hospitals have turned procedures and devices developed for the treatment of abnormality into routine practice, performed for no reason other than speeding up and ordering an unpredictable... process ; for instance, the U.S. cesarean section rate tripled in the 1970s and has doubled since then. Block looks into a growing contingent of parents-to-be exploring alternatives to the hospital "and the attendant likelihood of medical intervention "by seeking out birthing centers and options for home birth. Unfortunately, obstacles to these alternatives remain considerable "laws across the U.S. criminalizing or severely restricting the practice of midwifery have led trained care providers to practice underground in many states "while tort reform has done next to nothing to lower malpractice insurance rates or improve hospital birthing policies. This provocative, highly readable expos raises questions of great consequence for anyone planning to have a baby in the U.S., as well as those interested or involved in women's health care.