A rambling, highly personal memoir cum exposÇ by a labor-and-delivery nurse fed up with the American way of birth. Fascination with childbirth, plus the realization that her own childbearing was over, led Diamond to become first a prepared-childbirth instructor and then an obstetrical nurse. After receiving her nursing degree, she spent the next eight years in various hospitals, both miltary and civilian, sometimes on staff and sometimes under contract with a nursing agency. Her account of those years is chockful of horrendous stories of childbirth, mostly demonstrating how dehumanizing the hospital system is. Hospitals, she says, have adopted a pathological/technological model of childbirth that regiments a natural process and gives rise to a host of intrusive procedures. As the nurse performing these, Diamond frequently felt caught between the needs of the patient and the demands of the doctor. Complaints about doctors abound—she describes some as arrogant, indifferent, and insensitive, and their behavior as downright disgusting. She also has harsh words—rude, lazy—for coworkers. Nor is she easy on herself, frequently bewailing her own lack of assertiveness. Finally, exhausted and depressed, she turned away from nursing and to writing. This angry book is the result. Anyone wanting to experience childbirth vicariously will relish these graphic stories of labor and delivery, but pregnant women should perhaps be warned away. If Diamond's picture of current childbirth practices is as accurate as it seems to be, women already committed to a hospital delivery may be in for an unnecessarily rough time. As an insider's look at current hospital obstetrical practices, this has the ring of truth, but the details of so many births become repetitious, and the author's emotional ups and downs tend to get in the way of her central message.
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