front cover of Carrying On
Carrying On
Another School of Thought on Pregnancy and Health
Brittany Clair
Rutgers University Press, 2022
In the twenty-first century, expecting parents are inundated with information and advice from every direction, but are often strapped for perspective on how to think through it. Unlike traditional pregnancy guidebooks that offer recommendations, Carrying On helps expecting parents make sense of the overwhelming amount of counsel available to them by shedding light on where it all came from. How and why did such confusing and contradictory guidance on pregnancy come to exist?
Carrying On investigates the origin stories of prevailing prenatal health norms by exploring the evolution of issues at the center of pregnancy, ranging from morning sickness and weight gain to ultrasounds and induction. When did women start taking prenatal vitamins, and why? When did the notion that pregnant women should “eat for two” originate? Where did exercise guidelines come from? And when did women start formulating birth plans?
A learning project with one foot in the past and the other in the present, Carrying On considers what history and medicine together can teach us about how and why we treat pregnancy–and pregnant women–the way we do. In a world of information overload, Carrying On offers expecting parents the context and background they need to approach pregnancy and prenatal health from a new place of understanding.

front cover of Challenging Pregnancy
Challenging Pregnancy
A Journey through the Politics and Science of Healthcare in America
Genevieve Grabman
University of Iowa Press, 2022
In Challenging Pregnancy, Genevieve Grabman recounts being pregnant with identical twins whose circulatory systems were connected in a rare condition called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. Doctors couldn’t “unfuse” the fetuses because one twin also had several other confounding problems: selective intrauterine growth restriction, a two-vessel umbilical cord, a marginal cord insertion, and, possibly, a parasitic triplet.

Ultimately, national anti-abortion politics—not medicine or her own choices—determined the outcome of Grabman’s pregnancy. At every juncture, anti-abortion politics limited the care available to her, the doctors and hospitals willing to treat her, the tools doctors could use, and the words her doctors could say. Although she asked for aggressive treatment to save at least one baby, hospital ethics boards blocked all able doctors from helping her.

Challenging Pregnancy is about Grabman’s harrowing pregnancy and the science and politics of maternal healthcare in the United States, where every person must self-advocate for the desired outcome of their own pregnancy.

front cover of Expecting
A Brief History of Pregnancy Advice
Marika Seigel
University of Chicago Press, 2013
As long as there have been pregnancies, there have been suggestions for how best to bring a child into the world: from tips for homeopathic care and natural childbirth to the circulation of old wives’ tales, those who deliver advice to pregnant women are often influenced as much by their own agendas as what is best, or most comfortable, for a new mother. In Expecting, Marika Seigel, author of The Rhetoric of Pregnancy, provides a list of recommended reading and considers the history of pregnancy advice. Opening with her own birthing histories and careful explanation of how she first became interested in the topic, Seigel then casts a skeptical eye over the pregnancy guides that have circulated from the Enlightenment to the present day. Encouraging women to remain empowered when they are pregnant and to collaborate with their health care providers, Seigel articulates how best to have a healthy and affirming birth experience.

front cover of Expecting Teryk
Expecting Teryk
An Exceptional Path to Parenthood
Dawn Prince-Hughes
Ohio University Press, 2005

Expecting Teryk is a rich and sumptuous work that speaks to the deeper realities and represents a unique viewpoint of experiences shared by all individuals who choose the path to parenthood.”—Disability, Pregnancy, and Parenthood

The period just prior to the birth of a child is a time of profound personal transformation for expectant parents. Expecting Teryk: An Exceptional Path to Parenthood is an intimate exploration, written in the form of a letter from a parent to her future son, that reclaims a rite of passage that modern society would strip of its magic.

Dawn Prince-Hughes, renowned author of Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey through Autism, considers the ways being autistic might inform her parenting. She also candidly narrates her experience of becoming a parent as part of a lesbian couple—from meeting her partner to the questions they ask about their readiness to become parents and the practical considerations of choosing a sperm donor.

Expecting Teryk is viewed through the lens of autism as Prince-Hughes shares the unique way she sees and experiences the world—as well as her aching will to be fully present for her son. Contemplating the evolutionary traditions of parenting from both animal and human perspectives and the reassurances that nature offers, Expecting Teryk is a work of sensuous wonder that speaks to the deeper realities and archetypal experiences shared by all who embark on the journey of parenthood.


front cover of Heredity and Hope
Heredity and Hope
The Case for Genetic Screening
Ruth Schwartz Cowan
Harvard University Press, 2008

The secrets locked in our genes are being revealed, and we find ourselves both enthused and frightened about what that portends. We look forward to curing disease and alleviating suffering—for our children as well as for ourselves—but we also worry about delving too deeply into the double helix. Abuses perpetrated by eugenicists—from involuntary sterilization to murder—continue to taint our feelings about genetic screening.

Yet, as Ruth Schwartz Cowan reveals, modern genetic screening has been practiced since 1960, benefiting millions of women and children all over the world. She persuasively argues that new forms of screening—prenatal, newborn, and carrier testing—are both morally right and politically acceptable. Medical genetics, built on the desire of parents and physicians to reduce suffering and increase personal freedom, not on the desire to “improve the human race,” is in fact an entirely different enterprise from eugenics.

Cowan’s narrative moves from an account of the interwoven histories of genetics and eugenics in the first half of the twentieth century, to the development of new forms of genetic screening after mid-century. It includes illuminating chapters on the often misunderstood testing programs for sickle cell anemia, and on the world’s only mandated premarital screening programs, both of them on the island of Cyprus.

Neither minimizing the difficulty of the choices that modern genetics has created for us nor fearing them, Cowan bravely and compassionately argues that we can improve the quality of our own lives and the lives of our children by using the modern science and technology of genetic screening responsibly.


front cover of In Her Own Voice
In Her Own Voice
Childbirth Stories from Mennonite Women
Katherine Martens
University of Manitoba Press, 1997
Winnipeg writer Katherine Martens interviewed 26 women from the Mennonite community in southern Manitoba, ranging in age from 22 to 88 years old. They had many different backgrounds, but they all had one important characteristic: all were mothers.In the course of these interviews, Martens was searching for answers to questions that affected her both as a Mennonite and as a woman. How did they feel when they learned of the pregnancy? How did they choose home or hospital birth? How did the traditions of the Mennonite culture affect them as wives and mothers? As they talked, many spoke about the joys and trials of giving birth, and they also told Martens stories about other parts of their lives. Some had escaped the Russian Revolution to emigrate to Canada; others spent their entire lives in rural Manitoba, part of the close-knit Mennonite community, running farms and bearing as many as 15 children. Younger women who had formally left the Mennonite church were still conscious of the impact of the beliefs and customs on their lives.Many women were surprised to be approached for an interview, insisting that they had "no stories to tell." One was visited in a dream by her dead husband, who told her to "leave that alone." Yet, in the privacy of their kitchens and parlours, over sociable cups of tea, many did share with Martens their private fears and joys about what was often seen as a rite of passage into responsible adulthood, and they recalled that childbirth could be a difficult and, at times, traumatic event, but it could also be a radiant and spiritual experience.

front cover of International Surrogacy as Disruptive Industry in Southeast Asia
International Surrogacy as Disruptive Industry in Southeast Asia
Whittaker, Andrea
Rutgers University Press, 2019
During the last two decades, a new form of trade in commercial surrogacy grew across Asia. Starting in India, a “disruptive” model of surrogacy offered mass availability, rapid accessibility, and created new demands for surrogacy services from people who could not afford or access surrogacy elsewhere.
In International Surrogacy as Disruptive Industry in Southeast Asia, Andrea Whittaker traces the development of this industry and its movement across Southeast Asia following a sequence of governmental bans in India, Nepal, Thailand, and Cambodia. Through a case study of the industry in Thailand, the book offers a nuanced and sympathetic examination of the industry from the perspectives of the people involved in it: surrogates, intended parents, and facilitators. The industry offers intended parents the opportunity to form much desired families, but also creates vulnerabilities for all people involved. These vulnerabilities became evident in cases of trafficking, exploitation, and criminality that emerged in southeast Asia, leading to greater scrutiny on the industry as a whole. Yet the trade continues in new flexible hybrid forms, involving the circulation of reproductive gametes, embryos, surrogates, and ova donors across international borders to circumvent regulations. The book demonstrates the need for new forms of regulation to protect those involved in international surrogacy arrangements.

front cover of Labor of Love
Labor of Love
Gestational Surrogacy and the Work of Making Babies
Jacobson, Heather
Rutgers University Press, 2016
While the practice of surrogacy has existed for millennia, new fertility technologies have allowed women to act as gestational surrogates, carrying children that are not genetically their own. While some women volunteer to act as gestational surrogates for friends or family members, others get paid for performing this service. The first ethnographic study of gestational surrogacy in the United States, Labor of Love examines the conflicted attitudes that emerge when the ostensibly priceless act of bringing a child into the world becomes a paid occupation.  
Heather Jacobson interviews not only surrogate mothers, but also their family members, the intended parents who employ surrogates, and the various professionals who work to facilitate the process. Seeking to understand how gestational surrogates perceive their vocation, she discovers that many regard surrogacy as a calling, but are reluctant to describe it as a job. In the process, Jacobson dissects the complex set of social attitudes underlying this resistance toward conceiving of pregnancy as a form of employment. 

front cover of Legitimating Life
Legitimating Life
Adoption in the Age of Globalization and Biotechnology
van Wichelen, Sonja
Rutgers University Press, 2019
The phenomenon of transnational adoption is changing in the age of globalization and biotechnology. In Legitimating Life, Sonja van Wichelen boldly describes how contemporary justifications of cross-border adoption navigate between child welfare, humanitarianism, family making, capitalism, science, and health. Focusing on contemporary institutional practices of adoption in the United States and the Netherlands, she traces how professionals, bureaucrats, lawyers, politicians, social workers, and experts legitimate a practice that became progressively controversial. Throughout the past few decades transnational adoption transformed from a humanitarian response to a means of making family. In this new manifestation, life becomes necessarily economized. While push and pull factors, demand and supply dynamics, and competition between agencies set the stage for the globalization of adoption, international conventions, scientific knowledge, and the language of human rights universalized the phenomenon. Van Wichelen argues that such technoscientific legitimations of a globalizing practice are rearticulating colonial logics of race and civilization. Yet, she also lets us see beyond the biopolitical project and into alternative ways of making kin. 


front cover of Safe in a Midwife's Hands
Safe in a Midwife's Hands
Birthing Traditions from Africa to the American South
Linda Janet Holmes
The Ohio State University Press, 2023
Ms. Magazine “Most Anticipated Feminist Book of 2023”

After a less-than-positive experience giving birth as a Black woman in the 1970s, Linda Janet Holmes launched a lifetime of work as an activist dedicated to learning about and honoring alternative birth traditions and the Black women behind them. Safe in a Midwife’s Hands brings together what Holmes has gleaned from the countless midwives who have shared with her their experiences, at a time when their knowledge and holistic approaches are essential counterbalances to a medical system that routinely fails Black mothers and babies. Building on work she began in the 1980s, when she interviewed traditional Black midwives in Alabama and Virginia, Holmes traveled to Ghana, Ethiopia, and Kenya to visit midwives there. In detailing their work, from massage to the uses of medicinal plants to naming ceremonies, she links their voices to those of midwives and doulas in the US. She thus illuminates parallels between birthing traditions that have survived hundreds of years of colonialism, enslavement, Jim Crow, and ongoing medical racism to persist as vital cultural practices that promote healthy outcomes for mothers and babies during pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

front cover of Small
Life and Death on the Front Lines of Pediatric Surgery
Catherine Musemeche
Dartmouth College Press, 2014
As a pediatric surgeon, Catherine Musemeche operates on the smallest of human beings, manipulates organs the size of walnuts, and uses sutures as thin as hairs to resolve matters of life or death. Working in the small space of a premature infant’s chest or abdomen allows no margin for error. It is a world rife with emotion and risk. Small takes readers inside this rarefied world of pediatric medicine, where children and newborns undergo surgery to resolve congenital defects or correct the damages caused by accidents and disease. It is an incredibly high-stakes endeavor, nerve-wracking and fascinating. Small: Life and Death on the Front Lines of Pediatric Surgery is a gripping story about a still little-known frontier. In writing about patients and their families, Musemeche recounts the history of the developing field of pediatric surgery—so like adult medicine in many ways, but at the same time utterly different. This is a field guide to the state of the art and science of operating on the smallest human beings, the hurts and maladies that afflict them, and the changing nature of medicine in America today, told by an exceptionally gifted surgeon and writer.

front cover of Undoing Motherhood
Undoing Motherhood
Collaborative Reproduction and the Deinstitutionalization of U.S. Maternity
Katherine M. Johnson
Rutgers University Press, 2023
In 1978 the world’s first “test-tube baby” was born from in vitro fertilization (IVF), effectively ushering in a paradigm shift for infertility treatment that relied on partially disembodied human reproduction. Beyond IVF, the ability to extract, fertilize, and store reproductive cells outside of the human body has created new opportunities for family building, but also prompted new conflicts about rights to and control over reproductive cells. In collaborative forms of reproduction that build on IVF technologies, such as egg and embryo donation and gestational surrogacy, multiple women may variously contribute to conception, gestation/birth, and the legal and social responsibilities for rearing a child, creating intentionally fragmented maternities. Undoing Motherhood examines the implications of such fragmented maternities in the post-IVF reproductive era for generating maternity uncertainty—an increasing cultural ambiguity about what does and should constitute maternity. Undoing Motherhood explores this uncertainty in the social worlds of reproductive medicine and law.

front cover of The Woman Who Knew Too Much, Revised Ed.
The Woman Who Knew Too Much, Revised Ed.
Alice Stewart and the Secrets of Radiation
Gayle Greene
University of Michigan Press, 2017
The Woman Who Knew Too Much illuminates the life and achievements of the remarkable woman scientist who revolutionized the concept of radiation risk. For more than 40 years, Alice Stewart (1906–2002) warned that low-dose radiation was more dangerous than anyone acknowledged. In the 1950s she discovered that fetal x-rays double a child’s risk of developing cancer. Two decades later, in her 70s, she again astounded the scientific world by showing that the U.S. nuclear weapons industry was about 20 times more dangerous than safety regulations admitted. This finding put her at the center of an international controversy over radiation risk. In 1990, the New York Times called Stewart “perhaps the Energy Department's most influential and feared scientific critic.”   

Author Gayle Greene traces Stewart's life and career as she came up against ever more powerful authorities, first the British medical profession, then the U.S. nuclear industry, and finally the regulatory agencies that set radiation safety standards throughout the world. Stewart endured the fate of other women scientists in having her findings dismissed and funding cut, but today is recognized as a pioneering figure in epidemiological research on the dangers of nuclear radiation. In her preface to the second edition, Greene looks at new information that’s come out about the forces and individuals responsible for marginalizing her as a scientist and downplaying the disturbing implications of her research.

front cover of You're Doing it Wrong!
You're Doing it Wrong!
Mothering, Media, and Medical Expertise
Bethany L. Johnson
Rutgers University Press, 2019
New mothers face a barrage of confounding decisions during the life-cycle of early motherhood which includes... Should they change their diet or mindset to conceive? Exercise while pregnant? Should they opt for a home birth or head for a hospital? Whatever they “choose,” they will be sure to find plenty of medical expertise from health practitioners to social media “influencers” telling them that they’re making a series of mistakes. As intersectional feminists with two small children each, Bethany L. Johnson and Margaret M. Quinlan draw from their own experiences as well as stories from a range of caretakers throughout.
You’re Doing it Wrong! investigates the storied history of mothering advice in the media, from the newspapers, magazines, doctors’ records and personal papers of the nineteenth-century to today’s websites, Facebook groups, and Instagram feeds. Johnson and Quinlan find surprising parallels between today’s mothering experts and their Victorian counterparts, but they also explore how social media has placed unprecedented pressures on new mothers, even while it may function as social support for some. They further examine the contentious construction of prenatal and baby care expertise itself, as individuals such as everyone from medical professionals to experienced moms have competed to have their expertise acknowledged in the public sphere.
Exploring potential health crises from infertility treatments to “better babies” milestones, You’re Doing it Wrong! provides a provocative look at historical and contemporary medical expertise during conception, pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, and infant care stages.

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