social scientist uses the tools of economics to debunk myths about pregnancy
and to empower women to make better decisions while they’re expecting.
Pregnancy is full of rules. Pregnant women are often treated
as if they were children, given long lists of items to avoid—alcohol, caffeine,
sushi—without any real explanation from their doctors about why. They hear
frightening and contradictory myths from friends and pregnancy books about everything from weight gain to
sleeping on your back to bed rest. Economist
Emily Oster believes there is a better way. In Expecting Better, she shows that the information given to pregnant
women is sometimes wrong and almost always oversimplified, and she debunks a
host of standard recommendations on everything from drinking to fetal testing.
When Oster was expecting her first child, she felt powerless
to make the right decisions. How doctors think and what patients need are two
very different things. So Oster drew on her own experience and went in search
of the real facts about pregnancy using an economist’s tools. Economics is not
just a study of finance. It’s the science of determining value and making informed
decisions. To make a good decision, you need to understand the information
available to you and to know what it means to you as an individual.
Take alcohol. We all know that Americans are cautious about
drinking during pregnancy. Official recommendations call for abstinence. But
Oster argues that the medical research doesn’t support this; the vast majority
of studies show no impact from an occasional drink. The few studies that do
condemn light drinking are deeply flawed, including one in which the light
drinkers were also heavy cocaine users.
Expecting Better overturns standard recommendations for alcohol,
caffeine, sushi, bed rest, and induction while putting in context the blanket
guidelines for fetal testing, weight gain, risks of pregnancy over the age of
thirty-five, nausea, and more. Oster offers the real-world advice one
would never get at the doctor’s office. The health of your baby is
paramount, and with this practical guide readers can know more and worry less. Having the numbers is a
tremendous relief—and so is the occasional glass of wine.
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