Expecting Trouble: The Myth of Prenatal Care in America

Expecting Trouble: The Myth of Prenatal Care in America

Expecting Trouble: The Myth of Prenatal Care in America

Expecting Trouble: The Myth of Prenatal Care in America


In this controversial volume, Dr. Strong dispels widespread misconceptions about the effectiveness of prenatal care in its current form and explains how mothers themselves may influence the course and outcome of their pregnancies to a greater degree than do their obstetricians. He provides specific questions that parents should be asking their health care providers to ensure that they and their babies receive the best care possible.


Little is done during conventional prenatal care that could be expected to
influence birthweight or gestational age at birth in any direct fashion

—Phillip G. Stubblefield, University of Vermont

The Emperor Has No Clothes

One evening at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Phoenix, I deliver a baby who is fifteen weeks premature. a loaf of raisin bread weighs more than he does. the boy struggles for air with heaving chest movements that resemble slow-motion hiccups and his skin is so thin and waxy that he’s rendered translucent. Weeks later when the child is discharged from the hospital, he’s blind, experiences recurring seizures, and has all the signs of profound mental retardation. Shortly after his first birthday, his mother prematurely delivers his brother.

I can’t reconcile why things like this happen, but in America, they happen too often. After all, when an expectant mother seeks prenatal care, shouldn’t she and her child benefit from the effort? Isn’t it inevitable that those who fail to secure prenatal care will fare less well than their medically supervised counterparts? If you think so, I’ve got a message for you: the woman mentioned above had early, ample prenatal care.

Let me introduce myself. I am a third generation doctor and a second generation obstetrician. My entire professional career has centered around prenatal care. All of my days—and many of my nights—have been spent caring for expectant mothers. I’m a Clinical Assistant Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at universities in two states, a reviewer for five different medical journals and a published researcher, and the singular lesson I’ve learned from my experience is that most American women are unduly anxious about their chances of developing pregnancy complications and simultaneously overoptimistic about our ability to cure them. Yet to most families and policymakers, the connection between maternity care and a . . .

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