Form and Content
Suzanne Arms, a photojournalist and mother, was motivated by her own sour experience with hospital obstetrics to research the American birth experience. She interviewed and photographed not only credentialed experts—midwives, nurses, and doctors—but also experiential experts—mothers. Based on these interviews and her research into the literature of giving birth, she wrote Immaculate Deception: A New Look at Women and Childbirth in America. She presents a well-constructed argument against routing all births through the hospital, an institution designed to intervene in pathological conditions. Arms’s primary insight is that most births are normal births; that is, they are not pathological at all. The appropriate response to the healthy birth is watchful, unhurried support, not intervention. The appropriate source of this support is the patient and experienced midwife, not the highly paid medical doctor. In the hospital, with its predisposition to discern pathology, normal variations in labor are extremely likely to be labeled abnormal, which starts the laboring woman on a merry-go-round of intervention. Each obstetrical interference causes harm that requires another interference, until the woman loses all control of her own labor.
In Immaculate Deception, Arms interweaves several different types of presentation. Scores of photographs present the visual reality of the world that she describes in the text: harsh institutional labor...
(The entire section is 433 words.)