No, this isn’t my next book. Although I am highly qualified to write such a book, I have other books I need to focus on at this time. Here I am, yet again, to publicly state that the book A Catholic Postpartum – by Julie Larsen, is a boo that Catholic’s should stay away from. That is, until the author accepts with humility that the book is in error and she researches and updates it.
I know earlier I blogged about the Responsibilities of Being a Catholic Author and I share that I had not read the book. I now change that statement. I have read the book and it is much worse than I thought.
Below is my review of the book:
The book has short chapters
The book contains bible verses from Douay-Rheims
The book contains a warning on Yoga
The book has written recipes that are easy to follow
The rest of this review is a warning to Catholics and explains that the book is poorly laid out and contains grammar errors. The font is hard on the eyes and it is very clear the book is unedited and self-published. In addition, each chapter is full of weblinks rather than the author giving you the information, she writes the book like this is her personal blog and refers you out to look up the information yourself. This would be very difficult for any postpartum mother.
Sleep When Baby Sleeps is outdated and causes more anxiety in postpartum women. If the author had done research, she would be aware and no longer promote this. She also promotes co-sleeping yet doesn’t explain how to do this safely. Page 27 has some weird formatting issues and is confusing. Lettuce? Other outdated information was about using alcohol on the umbilical cord stump. I’m sure there is more but this book is difficult to read and the table of contents isn’t helpful.
When the author discusses circumcision, she had the opportunity to explain that circumcision is not Catholic teaching but again, refers you to some other website for you to research. The Baby Care section should just be eliminated.
The author explains padsicles and talks about c-sections and using them yet ice is not needed on the perineum following a c-section. This is confusing. Most of the book is confusing.
The author fails at explaining the necessity for baptism. This should be done right away yet she says it’s okay to wait and then refers to Appendix A for choosing Godparents, yet there is no Appendix A. Why even have an appendix? Just explain the importance of choosing Godparents in this section? When I did find the section on choosing Godparents (page 150) it was called Bonus C and discusses that the Godparents are people who take your children when you die and this is incorrect yet it is the secular understanding.
Much of the book has pagan ceremonies and resources. Bone-closing, mother-roasting, don’t eat cold foods, Yoni vaginal steaming, homeopathy, ceremonial belly-binding, placental consumption, and more. The resources the author points to are pagan websites (not Catholic) and there is no biblical foundation nor Catholic tradition to provide a basis for any of what the author claims. Some of the links the author refers the reader to are broken as well.
When an author claims “catholic” in any title, they must do their due diligence in order to preserve the soul of the person reading their content. This author has shared that they do not know any theologians and didn’t even consult their pastor/priest. This is very dangerous. The links provided give “authority” and that may lead a Catholic to believe it is acceptable to participate in anything they find on these websites. As teachers, God calls us to a higher standard and warns us against poor teaching. “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1
The author does not share or explain her “authority;” meaning, what training and experience does she have in writing the book? This book is gives medical advice, has no theological basis for any of what is written, and the author doesn’t share her credentials other than the fact that she is a woman, has had babies, and claims to be Catholic.
My authority to critique this book comes from over 18 years of experience as a doula and childbirth educator as well as a Catholic. While I hold a certificate in Catholic Biblical Studies (4 years), I do not claim to be a theologian; but as an author myself (unrelated books), I consult at minimum my priest before claiming anything in a book of mine is Catholic teaching.
This book is not Catholic just because the author put bible verses in it and shares about Saints. Much of the material is problematic yet if the author took the time to research, I believe this could be an excellent guide for postpartum mothers. Unfortunately, the author is hostile about any feedback regarding her books so if you do read this book, please know it is not Catholic.
Stay clear of this book.
I do hope and pray that the author of the book will accept the criticism as a catalyst to make this book the best Catholic Postpartum book on the market, better than one I could write and one that will lead Catholic’s to a more spiritually fulfilling postpartum experience. If not, I hope another Catholic will write the book because it is certainly needed.
On a side note, I have consulted with a theologian on this topic and there is no documentation of a ritual for postpartum women in the Bible outside of Leviticus 12. Traditionally speaking, there could be rituals that were lost but anything addressing “energy,” anything that is Mayan or Chinese Medicine are all pagan rituals and should not be passed off as Catholic.