Jan 20, 2011

Having Faith

an Ecologist's Journey To Motherhood
by Sandra Steingraber

Another excellent book about pregnancy, Having Faith is a sensitive memoir with a very scientific bent. (And it's not religious in nature; she named her daughter Faith, thus the title). Part of the book simply focuses on the author's experience being pregnant: what it's like to have morning sickness, mood swings, to face choosing between relief offered by the medical establishment during labor alongside the desire to avoid interventions and do it all naturally. Steingraber is a scientist herself, so at every stage of her pregnancy she contemplates the effects environmental toxins and pollution can have on the developing fetus. It gets very particular: why does a mother who takes thalidomide on one certain day have a baby born with no ears, a mother who takes it a few days later one born without arms? for example. The stories of birth defects caused by ignorance, indifference or simply unavoidable ingestion of toxins can be a bit horrifying, but at the same time this book did not leave me feeling frightened. If anything, it's very informative and really makes you think about what you're putting into your body. And the effects that environmental factors can have on a baby don't end when it's born, either. Steingraber asserts that since a baby in utero or a nursing child ingests everything the mother does, at even higher concentrations, human babies are the very top of the food chain and face the most dire consequences from environmental pollution. It's kind of scary how much is unknown about this subject (or at least was when the book was written) and to think of the pollutants that could be present in your breastmilk (could the best possible food for your new baby also be the most contaminated?) but again, I didn't find the issue highly alarming so much as just something to really consider and another motivation to eat healthier, organic foods. Aside from all that, the book is written with such insight, skill and even humor that it's a pleasure to read.

Rating: 4/5 ........ 342 pages, 2001

3 comments:

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

This sounds very interesting! I know I prefer memoirs that include research and other science along with the personal experience, I feel like it gives the story context.

magicumday said...
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Susan said...

I wish this had been around when I was pregnant with my children. I would have it!

One of the things that has always struck me, is how little research and study has been done on the pregnant body, the fetus, the woman's body and the baby. It seems to me that the author is right, that everything we ingest the baby also ingests. So why wouldn't we study the effect of mercury, dioxin and other toxins on women's bodies, fertility, damage to the children? I think because there is a lot of fear about knowing the truth (which is we are closely connected to everything around us) and there is a lot of money put into studies that aren't important because it's less challenging to the status quo. In other words, it's the female body and babies, so who cares? Not the chemical companies who do the polluting and provide the chemical cures.

Sorry, you now know one of my rants! lol When I was pregnant I took a lot of care about what I ate, more than i do when I'm not pregnant.

How about you, Jeane? Would this book have changed how you ate while you were pregnant? And I suppose it goes without saying that we already eat organic food, have done for years.