From Publishers Weekly
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. (Oct.)
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"It's as true of feminism as anything else that if we don't know our history we're condemned to repeat it. A liberating look at how assumptions have changed of what a good childbirth is supposed to be."
"It's remarkable how little we know about the one piece of human history we all share: birth. Tina Cassidy has written a lively and informative journey through centuries of what women could really expect when they were expecting."
"This smart and fun read is full of 'who knew?' moments that show in fascinating detail how birth has affected our culture in so many ways--even explaining the origins of gossip. Mothers, non-mothers and those who don't want to think about all the messy details of childbirth will find this a gripping read."
"The history of birth, as Cassidy deftly tells it, might well be summed up as What No One Ever Expected When They're Expecting: Crank-and-pulley birthing systems and fish-bladder vacuum extractors. Man-midwives in drag and obstetricians trained on 'mock mothers.' With wit and aplomb, Cassidy covers the ongoing march of birthing fads, from the surreal horrors of the Twilight Sleep to Lamaze, doulas, and the current craze for elective C-sections." -- MARY ROACH, AUTHOR OF STIFF: THE CURIOUS LIVES OF HUMAN CADAVERS AND SPOOK: SCIENCE TACKLES THE AFTE
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