Tag: Pregnancy

Mary, Did You Know?: An Essay on Christmas Carols, Medical History, and Reproductive Politics

The Christmas season is a curious time for a historian of women’s health, abortion, and maternal politics: at its historical and religious core, the holiday revolves around the legend of an unusual pregnancy and a remarkable birth. The miracle of Christmas, in the Christian tradition familiar to many Americans today, is not only the birth… Read more →

It’s Time to Take Nature to Task

In March of this year, one of my respected colleagues and I published a short essay in Pediatrics in which we critiqued the use of “nature” in public health campaigns, specifically regarding breastfeeding promotion. The piece came out on the heels of the publication of my first book, which examines the “back-to-the-breast” movement and the… Read more →

Playwright Alice Eve Cohen Asks Us to Reconsider What We Think We Know about Pregnancy and Motherhood

“What makes a mother real?” asks writer and performer Alice Eve Cohen in her newly-published play, What I Thought I Knew. In 1999, Cohen experienced the most improbably and bizarrely complicated pregnancy imaginable. Her play is a crystallization of her stranger-than-fiction pregnancy memoir that was acclaimed at its 2009 publication with book-of-the-year awards from Salon… Read more →

Disproving Self-Indulgence: Congenital Addiction in the Early Twentieth Century

On October 10, 1989, police arrived at the Medical University of South Carolina. They handcuffed Lori Griffin, a black girl not yet eighteen, and arrested her for distributing cocaine to a minor. That minor was her newborn child — distribution took place through the placenta. The police came because Lori’s urine had tested positive for… Read more →

What to Expect When You’re an Expecting Superhero: Spider-Woman Shifts Gears

Like the best action, the new comic Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears, Vol 1: Baby Talk starts in media res. Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman) talks on the phone with her best friend Carol Danvers (AKA Captain Marvel) as they both kick some ass. Carol is off in outer space, so they catch up about Jessica’s pregnancy. Six months… Read more →

“The Torture Began”: Symphysiotomy and Obstetric Violence in Modern Ireland

“They just took me into the ward and put me on the bed and told me they were going to do some little job … ‘you’ll be very sore, and your legs will be tied together,’ [said the doctor]. And by God, it’s a thing you’ll never forget the rest of your life.”1 Twenty-one-year old… Read more →

“She Did It to Herself”: Women’s Health on Television and Film

[Spoiler alert for PBS’s Mercy Street] Like just about every other Civil War historian out there, I’ve been following PBS’s new period drama, Mercy Street, pretty closely. The show, which aired its season finale on Sunday night, was innovative compared to other shows and movies on the war: it included plotlines about the health of… Read more →

The New Rubella: Zika and What it Means for Abortion Rights

Historians, journalists, and public health officials have begun to call Zika the new rubella (German measles). When a pregnant woman contracts the Zika virus, she normally experiences mild symptoms of fever and rash, much like rubella. But also like rubella, the Zika virus can wreak havoc on the developing fetus. Before the rubella vaccine in… Read more →

Women and Alcohol: Let’s Talk About the Real Problem

The CDC’s recent sexist and patronizing warning about women and alcohol managed to outrage huge numbers of people and provoke some excellent responses from commentators throughout the nation. Did the statement get released just before Super Bowl Sunday — a day when drinking spikes, followed by an increase in calls to rehab centers.? What were… Read more →

Mosquitos and Mothers: The Zika Virus and Real Talk on Birth Control

Mosquitos carrying the Zika virus in Latin America are wreaking havoc in people’s lives into the next generation. It’s only a matter of time before Zika is found in more places in the United States, as the first case of infant brain damage linked to the virus has already occurred in Hawaii. The baby’s mother… Read more →