Tag: Pregnancy

“She Looks the Abortionist and the Bad Woman”: Sensation, Physiognomy, and Misogyny in Abortion Discourse

In November of 1866, a minor sensation rocked the Albany area following the death of the young widow Elizabeth Dunham, who passed away at her mother’s house on the third of the month under, as the Albany Argus primly noted, “suspicious circumstances.” The Argus’s suspicions quickly proved sound. An inquest performed the next day revealed… Read more →

A Cut Above? Cesarean Sections in Brazil

In the opening scene of The Knick, Steven Soderbergh’s period drama about a fictionalized version of the Knickerbocker Hospital in turn-of-the-century New York City, Drs. John W. Thackery (played by Clive Owens) and his mentor Dr. J.M. Christiansen attempt to perform a cesarean section on a woman suffering from placenta previa (a condition in which… Read more →

Premature Birth and the Right to Grieve

There are quite a few ways to experience loss of pregnancy. When I was expecting my own daughter, no woman ever warned me about what could go wrong during pregnancy and delivery. I was told to be wary of sharing the news of pregnancy until the end of the first trimester, but also that I… Read more →

Placentophagy Isn’t New, But It Has Changed

Over the last several years, placentophagy has slowly crept into that vicious public media arena known as “the Mommy Wars.” While placentophagy (the act of ingesting your own placenta after giving birth) has not provoked the same kind of mother-on-mother vitriol that say, breastfeeding has, it has elicited a rather swift and scientifically fueled smack-down… Read more →

Yes, We Should Tell about our Miscarriages on Facebook

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg joyfully announced on Facebook that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are expecting a daughter. More solemnly, he added that Chan had experienced three miscarriages before this pregnancy. He shared this personal story as a gesture of support and solidarity with other couples facing similar difficulties. It had meant a lot… Read more →

VULVALUV: Taking Wearable Tech to a New Place

It seems like every day a new health tracking gizmo appears in stores. The fitbit. The Apple Watch. TICKRx. Leaf, a tracker that’s advertised as “for women” because it’s a fitbit copycat shaped like a piece of jewelry. But are any of these really that special? Do any of them really understand what women need?… Read more →

Pregnancy, Fear, and Conformity

Last fall, while in the midst of a severe head cold and four months pregnant, I emailed my obstetrician: “can I take Sudafed?” Within the hour he responded with “no sudafed until after 20 weeks if at all — concern is gastroschisis.” After Googling “gastroschisis” (a birth defect in the abdominal wall of the fetus… Read more →

The Boy Who Lived: Stillbirth and Life after Death

Ghostbelly: A Memoir. By Elizabeth Heineman. (New York: The Feminist Press, 2014. 320 pp. $16.95.) How do you grieve for a stillborn child? How do you ensure your child is remembered for having lived, not just for having died? These are the questions that Elizabeth Heineman explores in the unflinching, yet deeply intimate, Ghostbelly: A… Read more →

Adventures in the Archives: The Living Past

The stereotype of historians isolated in archives with dusty papers and dim lighting has more than a grain of truth to it. Granted, my archive experiences have been more ice cold and brightly lit than dank, but the isolation can be striking. I’ve spent entire days immersed more in the past than in the world… Read more →

Misunderstanding Miscarriage

By Lara Freidenfelds

Miscarriage rarely makes the news, except in tabloids. But last year, Virginia state Senator Mark Obenshain’s ill-advised attempt to require Virginia women to report all miscarriages to the police contributed to his failure to become Virginia’s state attorney general. The bill, introduced in 2009, haunted his race for the position. Obenshain was trying to demonstrate his moral outrage over the case of a frightened teenager who had given birth to a premature stillborn baby, and disposed of it in a dumpster. It was a tragic case, to all observers. But instead of asking how his state could better provide sex education and contraception, or provide support to teens who get pregnant, he wrote a bill aimed at surveillance and punishment. On penalty of up to a year in prison, women would be required to report all incidences of fetal demise occurring outside a physician’s supervision to the police. They were to report the pregnant woman’s name and the location of the remains, and would not be allowed to dispose of them without police supervision.