Book Review: Miscarriage, Medicine & Miracles

Miscarriage, Medicine & Miracles: Everything You Need to Know about Miscarriage by Bruce Young, MD, and Amy Zavatto is the newest medical-based book on pregnancy loss. Other types of books focus on psychology, grieving, or anecdotes of women’s stories, but this is a very traditional doctor-to-patient manual.

I am always glad to find a book that is up to date and comprehensive, the best sort of resource for a woman who is ready to sit down and read, hoping to find a stronghold in what has felt like a freefall so that she can begin the search for answers.

Overall, this book delivered. The section on myths (and why luncheon meat does not cause miscarriage) made me want to leap up and shout, “Finally!” So many women, with their pregnancy manuals in hand, will apply the warnings about tuna and hair dye and hot tubs retroactively, certain that they caused their losses. Young clearly defines the line between a theoretical health risk and a serious miscarriage cause.

The book contains all the classic elements: signs of an impending loss, common causes, treatments, and thoughts on prevention. It has a nicely expanded section on the impact of health conditions that can complicate a pregnancy. Some of the stories were out-and-out riveting, including patient histories where one twin was failing and they had to make a careful decision on when to deliver for the safety of both, and the harrowing case of a woman with kidney disease trying to delay the birth so her baby would survive, even though she was risking death herself.

I would recommend this book, but I have some very sharp criticisms. I almost flung the book across the room in horror the moment I opened the Table of Contents.

I’m not sure who thought glib chapter titles such as “scarred and scared” for scar tissue or “misplaced trust” for ectopic was a good idea, but let me be clear: miscarriage is not and will never be funny. Do not try to be clever or use flip word play to women who are in real pain.

This happened again in the myths section. Young calmly talks about how working out, having sex, and caring for your other children are perfectly safe activities. Then, inexplicably, he gets cute, saying that because of the association between night work and an increased risk of miscarriage, “…You can work very hard, only not at night!”

Is that supposed to be funny? Are all the women who have evening shifts, nurses and factory workers and 911 operators, supposed to read that and think—I killed my baby? Once again I sat the book down and reflected on whether or not I could recommend it.

I am not a fan of the “I’m the doctor know-all” style, nor the way Dr.Young starts off each chapter by describing the physical characteristics (overweight, blonde, tall) of the woman whose case he is about to explain, but this is the most recent book that covers what many of you want to know—the how, the why, and the what next.

Since it does its job efficiently most of the time, I will, with some reservation, say, yes, I can recommend it to you. But don’t read it when you’re upset. Take up this book when you are ready to plod through some of the insensitive writing to get at the heart of the research and information.

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