Pregnancy and childbirth may be a daily event in society but it is not an everyday run-of-the-mill occurrence. Nor does it need any hyperbole to describe it.
The wonders of childbirth need to be experienced to be believed. It is easy to fall in the trap of assuming that pregnancy is riddled with risks and to approach it with trepidation.
It is human nature to put emphasis on the out-of-ordinary and hence the preponderance, even in this book, of chapters dealing with problems that may be associated with pregnancy and childbirth. It is, of course, true that the odds are stacked against anything going wrong in pregnancy. Roughly four out of five pregnancies will be problem-free. This means most women will go through pregnancy and birth without any major hitch.
But, of course, there are people who already have health problems on which pregnancy might have a profound effect. Then there are people who develop unique pregnancy problems, and finally there are problems which occur during pregnancy, at delivery, or after, where they were completely unexpected. These need to be understood. Being informed removes undue anxiety and,-even where the outlook is not so good, it enables the individual and her family to come to terms with what may be in store.
Then there is the fact that pregnancy, even when completely normal, will be different from anything any woman has experienced before, unless it is another pregnancy. It is therefore useful to explain the changes that she is experiencing and what to expect as the pregnancy advances.
There is also the fact that many women get the little information they do have from family, friends and acquaintances. All doctors and midwives will tell you of their recurrent frustrations upon hearing the ubiquitous "my neighbour . . .", "my sister..." or "my friend ...". One normal pregnancy could be spectacularly different from another normal pregnancy. "Normal", applied' to pregnancy, is a very elastic term. It is of enormous benefit, therefore, for an expectant mother to know what a normal pregnancy may encompass.
A woman in her second or subsequent pregnancy should not necessarily expect a repeat of the same experience. Things may be completely different. This is another myth which brings out the common "but surely there must be something wrong: I didn't have this in my last pregnancy". No, not necessarily, madam. Every pregnancy is different. While doctors should and will look at - and probably even perform - tests, to rule out any potential complication, more often than not, it is just a variant of the norm.