Tag: Pregnancy

Motherhood, Undone: A Review of Belabored: A Vindication of the Rights of Pregnant Women by Lyz Lenz

One evening in early April, after yet another day of sending my toddler daughter to “Frozen school” while I attempted to work from home, I found myself in the woodshed, chucking pieces of firewood into the wall. I had wandered through to put the dogs out and when a few pieces fell dangerously close to… Read more →

Talking Back to the NIH

In January 2018, Serena Williams went public about how she almost died after giving birth to her daughter. Williams has a history of blood clots, and when she recognized the signs of a clot after her C-section, she walked up to her nurse and asked for exactly what she needed. But as she tells it,… Read more →

What to Expect When You’re Expiring: Pregnancy and Death in Seventeenth-Century England

On October 12, 1622, a 26-year-old English woman named Elizabeth Jocelin gave birth to her first child, a baby girl. Nine days later, she died of puerperal fever, an infection of the genital tract — most likely from bacteria accidentally introduced by a birthing attendant during labor — that can cause fatal sepsis in postpartum… Read more →

¡Escúchanos! Immigration and Reproductive Politics

Two years ago, the case of a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant catalyzed the creation of a class action suit from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Jane Doe, the name given to maintain her anonymity and safety as a pregnant minor, and her story of struggle and success captivated… Read more →

Training Future Wives and Mothers: Vocational Education and Assimilation at the Stewart Indian School

In 1879, the US government launched an expansive effort to restructure Indigenous lives by enrolling Native American children in off-reservation boarding schools. By the early 1900s, a network of federally managed boarding schools emerged across the country to “civilize” Native children. The architects of this system believed they had a mission to uplift and assimilate… Read more →

Where a Pregnancy Can Last for Years: The Remarkable Colonial Reports of Sleeping Pregnancies in the Maghreb

A couple patiently waits for a healthy child after a pregnancy that has lasted several years. A desperate widow claims her newborn is her husband’s child, years after his death. Fetuses are made to “fall asleep” in the womb and hibernate there for years until woken up again. In the French colonies of Tunisia, Morocco,… Read more →

How Did We Get Here? An Interview with Lara Freidenfelds

Lara Freidenfelds’s new book, The Myth of the Perfect Pregnancy: A History of Miscarriage in America, explores the history of pregnancy and miscarriage in the U.S., unveiling a rich story of consumerism, medical advances, mothering advice, scientific technologies, and changing ideals of parenthood, gender, and family. Using the lens of miscarriage, Freidenfelds examines how we got… 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 →

What to Expect When You’re Expecting in the Nineteenth-Century U.S.

Type “pregnancy” into any internet search engine today, and you’ll literally get a billion results. This plethora of information at our fingertips feels quite modern, and yet it has a long history: American women have long turned to the printed word for advice about their reproductive bodies. In the nineteenth century, there were many competing… Read more →

Over-the-Counter Anxiety: Selling the Home Pregnancy Test

Walk through the aisles of any American drugstore, and you’ll eventually encounter the home pregnancy test section. Because of the ease, convenience, and relative affordability of these tests, the majority of Americans now find out they’re pregnant in the privacy of their own bathrooms. The home pregnancy test is undoubtedly a success story. You can… Read more →