A journalist “explores the way childbirth has changed, from pre-history to the present” in this “fascinating, funny and occasionally shocking” historical survey (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
From midwives to the epidural and beyond, mother and former Boston Globe editor Tina Cassidy presents an intelligent, enlightening, and impeccably researched cultural history of how we handle the process of childbirth. Why is it that every culture and generation seems to have its own ideas about the best way to give birth? Touching on peculiar practices from across the globe as well as the very different experiences of mothers in her own family, Cassidy explores the physical, anthropological, political, and religious factors that have and will continue to influence how women bring new life into the world.
“Birth is a power-packed book. . . . A lively, engaging, and often witty read, a quirky, eye-opening account of one of life’s most elemental experiences.” —The Boston Globe
“Well-researched and engaging . . . Birth is a clever, almost irreverent look at an enduring everyday miracle.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Wonderful. Packed full of information, a brilliant mixture of ancient wisdom and modern science.” —Kate Mosse, author of the New York Times bestseller, Labyrinth
Anyone who has taken a prenatal education class in the last decade can detail much of what Boston Globe reporter Cassidy documents about birthing battles in her enjoyable new book. What she so cogently adds is a history of Western practices and attitudes surrounding birth, from the "God-sibs" (or "gossips") who sat by a woman's bed in Europe and early America to the scheduled cesarean of today. The book is well written and will be an important eye-opener to many. Cassidy works hard to remain neutral, but a preference for the discourse of "natural" birth creeps in. She looks nostalgically back at times when most women gave birth at home with female midwives in attendance. This leads to some problematic moments, as when she wants to argue that, historically, birth was not the danger to women's lives that many today assume. But then she has to admit that pioneer women wrote their wills before giving birth and that most women who die in childbirth today are in the non-Western world, where they lack access to hospitals. This is, by Cassidy's admission, the work of a woman disappointed by her own birthing experience. But that, too, is a product of our time the idea that we "deserve" a certain experience as we give birth.
I’ve read many books on childbirth during the last 50 years. Earlier times provided a dismal amount available for a laywoman to read about actual childbirth. But as the years have passed I’ve been able to read many excellent books. This book ‘Birth’ surprised me with so much back history of cultural
content on birth in different times & places. It was a great book.