**Reviews from Japan**
How Babies Are Born Nowadays and How Human Birth Got to Be This Way
translated by Naoko Hayakawa, Published by Japan Broadcast Publishing Co., Ltd.
Reviewed by Osamu Ikeuchi, a former professor in German Literature
University of Tokyo
There is a seasoned pediatrician named Mark Sloan in a general hospital in California. In the past 30 years spanning his career, he has attended numerous births. Dr. Sloan’s career, however, got off to a bad start where, in panic, he tried to push back the baby’s head that had started emerging.
As he went on to become a pediatrician and encountered so many deliveries, he became intrigued by the wonders of human birth. A birth brings about not only a newborn baby but also a newborn father. Men also go through many subtle changes during their spouses’ pregnancy. Babies learn so many things that easily equal what they will learn in the next twenty or thirty years of their life. I have never known, before I read this book, that human birth was so full of mysteries!
The mysteries of birth are thoroughly depicted and explained in this vastly informative, yet fun-to-read book. The fact that Dr. Sloan could write such a great book in his first authorship assignment struck me as yet another mystery.
Hokkaido Shimbun (northern Japan’s leading daily newspaper)
October 3, 2010
Reviewed by science journalist Kazuko Toshima
Our society has long called on the medical community to consider sex differences in its research and practice. Men and women naturally require different treatments as they differ in aspects such as organ size, reaction to medications and manifestation of symptoms. Based on this understanding and upholding the slogan “Women are not small men”, medical professionals have embarked on the task of developing sex-specific research and treatments. Likewise, fetuses and babies are not “small grown-ups”. Obvious as it may seem, babies, like women, have long placed lower than grown men in order of importance in the medical field.
This book is an encyclopedia of babies, filled with fascinating medical, biological, and historical facts about babies and human birth. One pediatrician in America imparts to his readers intriguing bits of knowledge drawn from his experiences and an extensive review of pertinent literature. I was especially fascinated with the part about Queen Victoria and how she pioneered to receive obstetric anesthesia. If you read this book, I’m sure that you would marvel at the wonders of human birth!
The author of this book is a pediatrician and a father of two children. He writes from a viewpoint of a loving father as well as an experienced pediatrician. His depiction of many scenes including delivery and residents in training is vivid and lively and his keen sense of humor is seen throughout the book, all of which make this book so much fun to read.
The part I found especially interesting is how he explained the reason why human birth had become so much more complicated than other primates’. I never imagined that it had all started when our ancestors decided to stand up on their feet!
The book also discusses pros and cons of many supposedly good practices related to birth such as father’s attendance to labor and delivery and playing classical music for the fetus. It goes on to explain latest findings from research on baby’s senses including vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch, the field once lagged behind because of many difficulties.
This book is not only great fun to read but also serves as an excellent guidebook to catch up on the ever-advancing field of “baby science”. It’s a must read for men and women alike.
Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Japan Economic Times, “Japan’s Wall Street Journal”)
August, 2010, and December 26, 2010.
Reviewed by Kaoru Takeuchi, a well-respected science writer
(Excerpts from “My Recommended Books of 2010”)
My second best of the year is “Baby Science”, a book about human birth that an experienced pediatrician wrote for the general reader. It’s full of interesting information and great insights along with a wonderful sense of humor, all of which make this book so much fun to read. A must read for novice mothers and fathers.
(Excerpts from ‘My Recommended Books of This Week”, August 2010)
As it happens, I’ve just had my first child, a daughter, which was probably why this book caught my eye so quickly and strongly.
This book taught me that most women give birth in the lithotomy position, which had originated in Louis XIV’s keen interest in peeping. What a surprise!
There are other fascinating facts about babies including how the newborn, when folded like an origami paper, shows how it was positioned in the womb and why the newborn’s head is corn-shaped when emerged.
And now, listen to this: Why do men, who never ever showed any interest in babies, suddenly become doting fathers who carry many photos of their babies in their wallets? Surprisingly, just by being with the pregnant spouse, the man’s hormone configuration changes. His testosterone level drops while female hormones such as estradiol and prolactin, both of which play a vital part in pregnancy and producing breast mild, shoot up. All of these are manipulate by the unborn baby. Never underestimate their power!
I highly recommend this book for all fathers and fathers-to-be.