Birth: The Surprising History of How We are Born
by Tina Cassidy
Springing from a lively, personal introduction in which Tina Cassidy describes her grandmother’s, her mother’s and her own experiences of giving birth, readers are taken on an astounding journey into the history of childbirth. From evolution to the epidural and beyond, Tina Cassidy presents an intelligent, enlightening and impeccably researched cultural history of how and why we are born the way we are.
Women have been giving birth for millennia but that’s about the only constant in the final stage of the great process that is human reproduction. Why is it that every cultureand every generationseems to have its own ideas about the best way to get a baby born? This book explores the physical, anthropological, political and religious factors that have and will continue to influence how women bring new life into the world. Among the topics that Tina Cassidy looks at are:why birth can be so difficult (blame our ability to walk on two legs); where women deliver (a hut, a home or a hospital); how they have handled pain; the role of men at the moment of birth; how the perception of midwives has changed (they were once burned as witches); the lives of some famous obstetricians (Lamaze was a womanizer); how cesareans have evolved, 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 disturbingfrom men disguising themselves as women to gain access to the delivery room to a recent news flash about a Mexican woman who gave herself a c-section. And while the history may be shocking, it’s even more amazing that we’re still trying to figure out the safest and most gratifying way to have babies.