Listening to Mothers II: Report of the Second National US Survey of Women’s Childbearing Experiences
by Eugene R. Declercq, et al.

[2006, New York: Childbirth Connection; PDF or book, 104 pages, paperback.]

[Review first published in Midwifery Today Issue 81, Spring 2007, © 2007, Midwifery Today, Inc. Review by Cheryl K. Smith.]

Listening to Mothers II is the second report that comes out of an initiative devoted to understanding experiences and perspectives of childbearing women and using the information to improve maternity policy, practice, education and research. Although more comprehensive than the first survey, this one parallels that 2002 report in that it continues to reveal gaps between the actual experiences of mothers and babies and what is optimal in childbirth. For example, despite the fact that most pregnancies are normal and births could be too, technology-intensive childbirth was the norm. Ninety-nine percent of woman surveyed had an ultrasound, 59% had three or more ultrasounds and 15% reported having six or more.

Other areas of concern were highlighted as well: most babies were not held by mothers within the first hour after birth; only 51% of mothers were breastfeeding a week after birth, and even the babies of mothers who wanted to exclusively breastfeed were given supplements or a pacifier, while their mothers were given formula samples. Considering that what happens to babies during the “primal period” can be critical to later health and well-being, the results of this report should alarm us. I recommend that everyone who cares about birth in the US obtain a copy of this report and read it.

Reviewer Cheryl K. Smith is managing editor for Midwifery Today and publisher of Ruminations, the Nigerian Dwarf and Mini Dairy Goat Magazine, as well as raising a small herd of mini dairy goats in the coast range of Oregon.