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