Rebecca Grant provides us with a look at the changing landscape of pregnancy and childbirth in America--and the rise of midwifery--told through the eyes of three women who all pass through the doors of the same birth center in Portland, Oregon.
Birth is an important book. Yet it’s a frustrating one as well. Grant is a good storyteller, subtle and compassionate, but she can be inaccurate with numbers, language and the odd historical detail. The social context she deftly weaves into her protagonists’ stories lends her work national scope. And yet her choice to focus on three women giving birth outside of hospitals... gravely undercuts the book’s ability to tell its promised story of "pregnancy in America" ... Grant would have done better by her subjects if, at the end of the book, she’d done more to contextualize the difficulties they face in their first weeks of postpartum life.
Grant’s focus on one corner of maternity care allows her to show that even best-case scenarios have practical and emotional complexities. It’s an enlightening and accessible portrait of maternal healthcare in America.
The author skillfully interweaves the personal stories of her subjects and their families with a clear and engaging history of American childbirth practices over the years ... A significant and compelling sociological investigation.