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Birth: A History [Paperback]

Tina Cassidy
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
Price: 13.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Mar 2007

The engaging and eye-opening story of how we and our ancestors entered the world.

Through the frigid, blurry January weeks after George was born, I found myself suddenly housebound with time to ruminate - though not time to cook or take a shower. When George was peaceful, my mind returned to that nagging question: why is birth so hit and miss after all this time? I needed to put into perspective my own experience. I needed to know what other women, in other cultures, in other times had done.

Birth is a book that will open the eyes of even the most informed experts on the subject. Cassidy looks at every aspect of childbirth - from fathers and mothers to doctors and widwives across the centuries - with admirable objectivity in a work that is utterly gripping, occasionally shocking and essential reading for the human race.

Frequently Bought Together

Birth: A History + The Oxytocin Factor: Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love and Healing + Spiritual Midwifery
Price For All Three: 31.68

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (1 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701181192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701181192
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 259,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Finally, a literate and well-informed history of childbirth... A liberating look at how assumptions have changed of what a good childbirth is supposed to be" (Naomi Wolf)

"Wonderful... Packed full of information, a brilliant mixture of ancient wisdom and modern science" (Kate Mosse)

"Cassidy is determined to wipe the Vaseline from the lens... There is a collective, willful amnesia about birth that has been begging for her clear-headed dissipation" (New York Times Book Review)

"A lively, engaging and often witty read; a quirky, eye-opening account of one of life's most elemental experiences" (Boston Globe)

"Fantastic... a darkly witty guide through the birthing hut" (New York Magazine)

Book Description

This page-turning and jaw-dropping history of childbirth is 'a wonder of a book... a must read for anyone who's ever been born' (Mary Roach).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book 25 Jun 2008
By kathy
As a midwife I am fascinated by the history of birth and am amazed a book like this hasn't been written before. Manages to condense the whole history of childbirth from prehistoric times up to today beautifully and comprehensively. Subjects include midwives, pain relief, caesarean section, tools and fads and the role of the father, with some illustrations. It is warmly written by a mother and very easy to read. Although written by an American author, relates it to practice in the UK. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in how we come into the world.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bizarrely fascinating read... 11 April 2008
I was given this book as a birthday present and, not being pregnant or hoping to be any time soon, was a little surprised. My surprise soon gave way to fascination as I began this book - not at all a book for an expectant mother, this tome covers the diverse history of giving birth in gruesome and personal detail. Slightly feminist in tone - and no wonder, considering the topic - this is an intriguing read into an aspect of history you're not going to find in a day-to-day history book.

I love what I call 'personal history' and this book more than delivered. I raced through it in a week, then lent it to my mum who did likewise. I have never been so drawn in by a non-fiction book. A must buy for those who like to learn about the more obscure aspects of our ancestors' lives. There's even a little segment at the end discussing all the upcoming 'trends' for giving birth (and believe me, there are definitely trends in this field) such as hypno-birthing... so perhaps there is a little something for the expectant mums... though on the whole I'd avise those about to give birth to stay away from this book until after the deed is done! Otherwise - highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Helen
This book is so empowering for expectant mothers! It outlines the development of birthing techniques throughout history, and reveals why doctors and midwives are so different in their treatment of labouring women.

This fascinating book explains the reasons behind the development of certain medical interventions, and also looks at the scientific evidence relating to the effectiveness of natural/normal birthing techniques.

I would recommend it to expectant mothers because in order to make informed descisions about the right kind of birth for your child, it is important to understand the reasoning behind each intervention, and why it may (or may not) be beneficial. Don't expect this to be fluffy heart-and-cherubs stuff, like some baby books, but do expect to finish this book in a state of empowerment and clarity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC BOOK!!!!!!!!!! 27 Nov 2008
I Have just finished reading this fantastic book which i absolutely love. I had a baby recently and found the experience so magical that I had to read every single book out there on what us women go through to keep the world going! It is great and really brings the whole story and history of birth home with what women went throuhg in the past. Just dont read this if you are expecting!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Concise, fascinating, thought-provoking 25 Aug 2013
By WindsorMummy TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
I'm an avid reader of all things pregnancy/midwifery related, and was surprised that I hadn't heard of this book or seen it crop up on midwifery forums I'm a member of. By chance I came across it in my local library, and I'm so glad I did! The author presents us with a concise yet thorough history of midwifery and obstetrics. It is at times upsetting and frustrating, but always thought-provoking. Tina Cassidy has a real talent at keeping an ever so slight hint of humour (more irony than anything) which does help dispel some of the weight of the subject matter. The book is packed full of facts but you never feel bogged down in the detail. I've learnt alot from this book and have recommended it to several friends. Definitely one to read and hang on to, I don't think you could ever tire of learning about cultural and historical attitudes toward midwifery/obstetrics/pregnancy/childbirth. I don't have a negative thing to say about this book; definitely one I'll buy a copy of to read again in the future.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good but now I'm worried... 6 Jun 2013
I raced through this book in just two days, partially because I'm already full term and wanted to make sure I read it all before the baby came along! While I really enjoyed it from a historical perspective as I love a good nonfiction book with lots of interesting facts, I now feel MORE anxious than before about giving birth. There was a LOT of focus on the history of cesareans, forceps and craniotomies (which is the last thing I want to hear about - babies getting stuck in the birth canal and having their heads drilled into the "extract" them). There also wasn't quite enough history about how other cultures dealt with natural childbirth historically -- it was more about the medieval and victorian practices to deal with a childbirth gone wrong. It would've been useful to hear some empowering messages about a woman's ability.

At the end, the author seemed to say that although she admired natural childbirth, she still prefers a hospital and an epidural - something I would fear she would say and might ultimately lead me in the same direction.
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