By Andy Blackett
Expecting Better is a must read for anybody who is pregnant or trying to conceive, as Dr. Emily Oster shines a light on the real, meaningful data, and empowers women to take control of their pregnancy. Dr. Oster doesn’t seek to change anybody’s behavior, just to educate and inform, letting women know that they have a choice, and that their doctor’s hardline recommendations may not always be right for them. Like Ovuline, Dr. Oster truly understands that every woman, baby, and pregnancy is different – there is simply no one-size-fits-all guide that everybody will agree with, or needs to. The right data can teach us a lot about the world we live in, and Emily Oster gets that – the traditional pregnancy guidelines needed a breath of fresh, empowering air, and Expecting Better does just that.
Upon getting pregnant, Dr. Oster, like most women, was quickly exposed to the prohibitive and antiquated mandates from her doctor about all of the things she could and could not, should and should not do during pregnancy, but unlike most women, she asked herself the question that lies behind every chapter, paragraph, and sentence of the book: “where’s the evidence?” She starts out by examining the conventional wisdom of conceiving by addressing topics like the best day to have sex relative to ovulation, how long it takes to get pregnant after coming off birth control, and perhaps most relevant to many, the age-old belief that fertility declines after 35 (which likely derives from a study conducted in the 1800s), using evidence and reason to assert that while fertility and egg-quality do in fact decline with age, there is no fertility cliff on your 35th birthday - or as Emily puts it, no “retired-eggs” - fertility declines for everybody differently, and 35 is not a magic number. So while a 25-year old is statistically more likely to be able to conceive faster than a 35-year old, it’s entirely possible that the 25-year old has particularly poor egg quality, and the 35-year old particularly viable.