I love almost everything about this book. The cartoons are brilliant: the switch from “contented cow” to “psycho bitch”, and the way they show how fallopian tubes sift sperm (though the tail should have come off the sperm once it entered the egg) and the “flames of creation” cartoon about stretch marks.
The writing style is funny, friendly and informative. The “adventure moments” do a neat job of acknowledging people’s different circumstances and preferences.
Kate Evans is very sympathetic to those wanting a baby and experiencing fertility problems. How it hurts to want a baby.
She’s also rightly angry about the “selfish career women” story that some papers push as an explanation for later motherhood. As she says, thanks to contraception, women aren’t trapped into motherhood with the first man they sleep with. It takes time to find a decent father.
Kate Evans has this same sympathetic and angry tone when it comes to birth. Her gorillas in frilly nighties (!) illustrate the powerful points she makes about how too much medical intervention in routine labour helps neither women nor their babies. She also makes great points about the importance of language, e.g. why call it an “incompetent cervix” – what’s wrong with a weak cervix? At the same time she doesn’t dismiss medics or modern medicine. She acknowledges women’s fear about giving birth, and she doesn’t push home birth or natural birth too hard. Home birth is just one option alongside hospital birth and caesareans.
The only parts that made me uncomfortable were those about using fertility awareness as contraception – and to help get pregnant. As a fertility awareness specialist, I welcome this information being included in the book but think that some of it is questionable and some might put people off the method completely. Also, unlike elsewhere in the book, she gets a bit bossy: “Wise up! If you can’t get it together to check your cervix every day then you can’t assess whether you’re fertile.” Yes you have to make a commitment to keep track of your body if you want to use fertility awareness as contraception. And there’s nothing wrong with knowing how to check your cervix, but this is not a compulsory part of fertility awareness. She also suggests that you taste your cervical fluid and that infertile fluid is “more lemony”. Really, this not necessary, I’m not aware of any good evidence on this – just one inconclusive study.
Taking your waking temperature for fertility awareness is made to sound both harder and easier than it is. There’s no need to write it down immediately, you can use the memory function on your thermometer and check it once you’re properly awake. It’s important to have had at least three hours sleep (not four) beforehand, and you also need to take your temperature at more or less the same time every day. Not many women’s temperatures are unaffected by the time of day. As she says, Toni Weschler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility is an excellent resource for anyone interested in this method, or see a fertility awareness specialist if you really want to make sure it works.
Also she doesn’t mention how breastfeeding can work as contraception if you follow the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) rules, which seems like a missed opportunity in a book about pregnancy and birth.
Apart from these points, Bump really is a fabulous book. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in pregnancy and childbirth – especially those about to experience it for themselves!