Lara Freidenfelds

What About Men’s Reproductive Health?

In her latest book, GUYnecology: The Missing Science of Men’s Reproductive Health, sociologist Rene Almeling asks why all the public health messages about healthy childbearing seem to be aimed at women. What about the research that shows that men’s health is relevant to the condition of their sperm, and can profoundly affect the health of… Read more →

Pregnancy and Miscarriage on Social Media: New Metaphors to Make Miscarriages Easier to Talk About, and Easier to Bear

For someone who has been trying for a pregnancy, it is naturally tempting to want to share the exciting and potentially life-changing news of a positive home pregnancy test. Common wisdom has been to keep it secret, though, until the end of the first trimester, once miscarriage is less likely. After all, if you’ve taken… Read more →

Accessibility in America Past and Present

Bess Williamson’s Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design is a thought-provoking and edifying look at the shifting culture around disability and the design of our built environment in the United States from post-World War II to the present. I was interested to read the book both because I have a longstanding scholarly interest… Read more →

Sperm Donor Siblings Speak Their Truths

In Random Families: Genetic Strangers, Sperm Donor Siblings, and the Creation of New Kin, sociologists Rosanna Hertz and Margaret Nelson ask what it means for children to be related to each other via a sperm donor. In their rendering, this is not merely a theoretical question up for philosophical debate. What is so brilliant about… Read more →

Making Room for Miscarriage

After I miscarried my first pregnancy, I quickly realized that I needed a historical perspective to make sense of this shockingly unexpected and distressing event. Before I got pregnant, I had no idea that around 20% of confirmed pregnancies miscarry, mostly in their early months, and that miscarriages are a normal part of childbearing for… Read more →

Help! Talk Radio Ate the Presidency!

In November 2016, my Facebook feed was filled with friends’ dreaded anticipation of Thanksgiving with extended family, and particularly with that uncle: the unapologetic Trump supporter full of crude, bigoted bluster. So many white families seemed to have an uncle like this — even if in liberal families everyone had written him off as a… Read more →

In Vitro Fertilization: From Science Fiction to Reality to History

It was not that long ago that “test tube babies” only existed in science fiction. I remember my shock when, in 2007, one of my students at Wellesley College told me that she was an IVF (in vitro fertilization) baby. “The technology couldn’t be that old, could it?” I thought. In The Pursuit of Parenthood:… Read more →

Is a Historian’s Library an Archive or a Living Thing?

This week I purged my bookshelves. As a Ph.D. historian, it initially felt like a risky move — somewhere in between disowning my former self and cutting out part of my brain. In the end, though, I think the effect will be closer to pruning a big, old, tangled shrub so that it has some… Read more →

Journey Into Mothering with Historian Sarah Knott

In Mother Is a Verb, Sarah Knott takes her reader on a historian’s journey into motherhood. It is a sort of train travelogue, riding along parallel rails: personal memoir and wide-ranging social history. The path of the narrative is dictated by the chronology of the memoir, starting with choosing to try for a pregnancy, and… Read more →

A Tale of Two Midwives across Four Centuries

What happens when the person who delivers most of the babies in her community is arrested? This is a tale of two midwives, separated by nearly four centuries of history, and yet remarkably alike. Six months ago, certified professional midwife Elizabeth Catlin was arrested on the grounds that she was practicing midwifery without a license…. Read more →