ARC Review – Cut It Out by Theresa Morris

Title: Cut It Out: The C-Section Epidemic in America
Author: Theresa Morris
Source: Received for review from Netgalley
Release Date: 10/1/2013

 Description from Goodreads:

Cut It Out examines the exponential increase in the United States of the most technological form of birth that exists: the cesarean section. While c-section births pose a higher risk of maternal death and medical complications, can have negative future reproductive consequences for the mother, increase the recovery time for mothers after birth, and cost almost twice as much as vaginal deliveries, the 2011 cesarean section rate of 33 percent is one of the highest recorded rates in U.S. history, and an increase of 50 percent over the past decade. Further, once a woman gives birth by c-section, her chances of having a vaginal delivery for future births drops dramatically. This decrease in vaginal births after cesarean sections (VBAC) is even more alarming: one third of hospitals and one half of physicians do not even allow a woman a trial of labor after a c-section, and 90 percent of women will go on to have the c-section surgery again for subsequent pregnancies. Of comparative developed countries, only Brazil and Italy have higher c-section rates; c-sections occur in only 19% of births in France, 17% of births in Japan, and 16% of births in Finland.

How did this happen? Theresa Morris challenges most existing explanations of the unprecedented rise in c-section rates, which locate the cause of this trend in physicians practicing defensive medicine, women choosing c-sections for scheduling reasons, or women’s poor health and older ages. Morris’s explanation of the c-section epidemic is more complicated, taking into account the power and structure of legal, political, medical, and professional organizations; gendered ideas that devalue women; hospital organizational structures and protocols; and professional standards in the medical and insurance communities. She argues that there is a new culture within medicine that avoids risk or unpredictable outcomes and instead embraces planning and conservative choices, all in an effort to have perfect births. Based on 130 in-depth interviews with women who had just given birth, obstetricians, midwives, and labor and delivery nurses, as well as a careful examination of local and national level c-section rates, Cut It Out provides a comprehensive, riveting look at a little-known epidemic that greatly affects the lives, health, and families of each and every woman in America.

Theresa Morris is Professor of Sociology at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She is the mother of two children, the first born by c-section and the second by vaginal delivery.

“Engagingly written, rigorously researched, and compellingly argued, this book [is] a must-read not only for women’s health advocates and scholars of reproduction, but also for those engaged in health care policy.”
-Susan Markens, author of Surrogate Motherhood and The Politics of Reproduction


I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve had two unplanned c-sections, so the c-section epidemic in America is definitely something I feel very strongly about, so when I saw Cut It Out on Netgalley, I didn’t even think twice and requested it immediately.

I am really struggling with a rating for Cut It Out. I mean, it’s a nonfiction book for one, but it’s also about a tough subject. It’s not a memoir with funny anecdotes and cute stories, you know? However, I think, especially in this country, that the subject matter is very important.

I had a few problems with the way the information was presented, however. First of all, I felt like a lot of the things that were expanded upon were basically common sense. I mean, realistically, I don’t think very many people would read this book unless they had a reason to. What I mean is, even though the information is hugely important, and I think every woman in America should be familiar with it, I don’t see many people seeking out this book unless they are facing or have had a c-section or have an interest in birth (such as doulas or midwives, etc). For that reason, I felt like some of the things that were expanded on (such as the stages of labor) were the things that most people already know.

Also, I was not a huge fan of the writing style. After the Introduction, every chapter/section was basically written like a high school persuasive essay with an introduction, supporting evidence, and conclusion. Due to this, I found a lot of it to be repetitive.

Aside from some of the actual numerical statistics, I felt like there was very little in Cut It Out that I didn’t already know. However, I’ve also probably read more c-section and birth books than your average person.

My favorite parts of the book were the Introduction and Conclusion. The middle part was pretty much just an expansion of things presented in the Introduction. And reading a lot of the information in this book made me angry again. It’s amazing how much resentment you can be still holding, even after half a decade, without even realizing it. And I felt like the Conclusion gave some really great suggestions on how to deal with the problem.

Even with my issues with some of the writing in Cut It Out, I did enjoy reading it, and I would definitely recommend it. I believe that the rising c-section rates in this country, and especially the reasons behind it, are very important information for everyone, but definitely for any woman even considering giving birth at some point in this country. For that reason, I’m giving it 3 stars.

Note: I did not read the Appendix or Notes at the end of the book, but those are things that I typically don’t read.

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One thought on “ARC Review – Cut It Out by Theresa Morris

  1. […] Cut It Out by Theresa Morris (3 stars) […]

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