Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born

Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born

Author:

Hardcover, Pages: 320

Genres: Nonfiction, History, Science, Parenting

Language: English

Reads: 79

Downloads: 4666

Rating: Rated: 2597 timesRate It

Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born
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Book Summary

From evolution to the epidural and beyond, Tina Cassidy presents a lively, enlightening, and impeccably researched cultural history of how and why we are born the way we are.

Women have been giving birth for millennia, so why is it that every culture—and every generation—seems to have its own ideas about the best way to get a baby born? Among the topics that Tina Cassidy looks at are: why birth can be so difficult (blame our ability to walk on two legs, for instance), where women deliver, how the perception of midwives has changed (they were once burned as witches), the lives of some famous obstetricians, and the many ways childbirth has been deadly (lots of blame to go around). Birth is full of quirky details, startling facts, and tales both humorous and disturbing—from men disguised as women to get into delivery rooms to a news flash about a woman giving herself a C-section.

From Jessica Mitford’s seminal The American Way of Death to Mary Roach’s Stiff, we’ve witnessed how millions of readers are fascinated by what happens at the end of life. Here is the riveting true story of how it begins.

Reader Reviews
  •    Tojanos Burstym
    2020
    (June) (3.5*) A friend recommended this to me as an interesting read. It was definitely interesting, although even though it is only 12 years old it reads as somewhat dated (I'd love to see the author do an update - trends and stats have changed since 2006). Such is the world of childbirth - something that has been happening for literally tens of thousands of years yet for the last 500+ there have been trends, fads, and all sorts of changes that affect how a woman brings her child into the world. It was also fascinating to read about how certain tribes around the world handled birth (and some still do).

    The historical chapters were by far the most fascinating, even though more than once they made me cringe at the brutality brought forth on pregnant women. It's not really a surprise that it's men - specifically doctors - that tried to take over world of pregnancy and childbirth, believing they knew better than midwives who'd been assisting in childbirth for hundreds of years. Before doctors knew to wash their hands the amount of women who died just after giving birth was staggering - and don't get me started on C-Sections and birthing instruments. The idea that men used to examine women and help during birth while the woman's lower half was covered so her genitals were kept private is amazing.

    The newer fads and trends of the last 100 years - pain relief found in ether and twilight sleep, shaving and enemas, water births and husband coaches and Lamaz and birthing centers and nurse midwives and home births- it's like a trip through a time capsule. Every woman has a birth story and what is most amazing is whether you've had one child or ten, I think most women can tell you details of each and ever birth.

    Myself - after a few years of infertility and miscarriages I had two children - one an unplanned C-S after almost 24 hours of labor and no progression. The second was a planned C-S. I was not looking for a birth experience - I didn't want a focus item or music or breathing. In the words of a friend: "I wanted zero pain...the doctor should be standing behind me with the epidural while I am bent over the admittance desk signing myself in." I was thrilled to have a pregnancy end with a child and how he got out was so unimportant - doctor could have used a fire to smoke him out and that would have been fine with me! I could go into detail but suffice it to say my birth "experience" worked for me - I liked the OB, the nurses, the basic hospital room (I had my kids before my hospital upgraded to birthing suites - I labored in a plain basic room w/a bed and a chair; ditto my recovery room the next few days).

    I don't think this is a scary book for pregnant women. Instead, it shows how far we've come and reminds us that while birth is the one of the most common thing that happens in the world on a daily basis (350K+!), each and every birth is still special.
    Reply
  •    Brajinn Laduque
    2020
    Fascinating, horrifying, and enlightening. I'm glad I'm a woman giving birth now, but it's so interesting to read the trends of how our birthing practices have come to be, and how some of them might not be so great after all. There were a few areas I would have liked more information and history that felt glazed over, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book overall.
    Reply

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