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The American Way of Birth

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  173 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Three decades ago, Jessica Mitford became famous when she introduced us to the idiosyncracies of American funeral rites in The American Way of Death. Now in a book as fresh, provocative, and fearless as anything else she has written, she shows us how and in what circumstances Americans give birth. At the start, she knew no more of the subject, and not less, than any mother ...more
Hardcover, 322 pages
Published August 1st 1999 by Diane Pub Co (first published November 1st 1992)
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Petra X
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it really liked it
Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death experienced great success so it's no surprise she tried a follow-up with this book. But, as with a lot of follow-ups it's neither so interesting nor so successful.

Giving birth is not mysterious, nor for most women is it complicated and outside of a gaggle of new mothers all anxious to tell their own birth stories, it really isn't that interesting either. But death, ah, now that is forever interesting because it is so mysterious. If you aren't religiou
Nov 18, 2007 Erika rated it it was ok
Shelves: stopped-reading
Mitford's whole premise of questioning the "American way of birth" is one I'm very sympathetic to. Also, I think much of the evidence she presents is strong--and that it can speak for itself without her self-righteous, snarking tone. Didn't her editor tell her that those little tidbits you write when you're irritated and that make you feel particularly satisfied with yourself are precisely the ones you need to cut out? I agree with her most of the time, and still her tone grates so much that I a ...more
Mar 07, 2010 Alisha rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-education, 2010
Interesting. VERY comprehensive, and I really liked her treatment of internal fetal monitors, forceps and the rise and fall of twilight sleep. She shed light on the societal views and the rise of intervention related to women's enthusiam for them-- a correlation I had never thought of or heard presented, but it makes complete sense! Of course, don't we get in our own way sometimes!?

A must read for any pregnant woman, at least DEFINITELY the sections on the interventions I have mentioned above. I
This was another good one from Mitford. Interestingly, she uses very different sources from other books I've read on this subject, but still comes up with the same results about the state of the nation regarding American childbirth.
Jun 01, 2015 Denise rated it liked it
I found my old reading records from the time I was studying midwifery.

Interesting read (and funny sense of humor) in history of birth and midwives in US.
Mar 16, 2011 Becca rated it liked it
Gotta love a little muckraking every once in awhile. What strikes me, reading this now, is how timely it is. Mitford takes a long hard look at our capitalistic medical system and where the money is going. She also shows the disparity of treatment between the classes of the patients. Reading this while the health care bill was being debated and voted on was interesting. Seems we're still dealing with the same issues Mitford was frustrated by in the early 1990s.
Aug 12, 2008 Leah rated it it was amazing
ummm, i am pregnant right now, so I have to recommend this one. if you or someone you care about ever gets pregnant you NEED to read this, just so you can be prepared for the lingering attitudes to birth that still exist in the American medical community. Also just a fascinating study of how fucked up this country has been in the past.
Apr 22, 2009 _paegan_ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I picked up this book after having a copy of "The American Way of Death" for many years, and I was not disappointed. Jessica Mitford brought her deft research skills, keen insight, and sharp perspective used in the older book to the topic of birth in the United States.

I'd love to get newer versions of both books.
May 22, 2008 Rae rated it liked it
Mitford looks at the history of obstetrics and midwifery in a witty and readable way. She also exposes the flaws in the modern birthing industry. The first half of the book is great. I got bogged down in the statistics in the second half.
Jun 08, 2009 Sheila rated it liked it
I was conflicted about the book. I used midwives and loved them, but I'm not a fan of home births and lack on medical assistance for births. The book certainly didn't pack the wallop of American Way of Death.
Aug 06, 2015 Kathy rated it really liked it
I don't know if something is wrong with me but I found "The American Way of Death" much more compelling.......but this is was insightful and makes me pray that more midwives come into the scene!!
Jun 10, 2011 Lize rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2003
After reading so much about the Mitford girls, I finally got around to reading one of Decca's books, and it was pretty much what I'd expect from an ardent Communist. Very anti-doctor/pro-midwife.
Jul 07, 2007 HeavyReader rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone living in America and thinking about having a baby
Mainstream birth processes in America are pretty messed up. If you insist on having kids, read this book and strive for a home birth, or at the very least hire a doula.
May 27, 2010 G-phy rated it liked it
Of course Jessica Mitford is the best. i love her humorous approach. Not recommended for anyone about to give birth. Too many medieval horror stories.
Jun 10, 2007 Nicole rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing story of how people are profiting off a natural process - and how the care of women and babies sometimes suffers for it.
Aug 09, 2011 TJ rated it really liked it
Disturbing info and enraging facts. But helpful to know. Would recommend to anyone thinking of giving birth
Jun 06, 2010 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Insightful view of how labor and delivery has changed in the U.S. over the last 100 years.
May 24, 2011 Kelly rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Tami
Recommended to Kelly by: Cathryn
Very interesting! A little outdated (1993), but it has a lot of history that is just fascinating.
Sep 06, 2013 Maureen rated it really liked it
An old classic. I was actually laughing out loud at how sassy Jessica Mitford is.
T. Strange
Jul 14, 2013 T. Strange rated it really liked it
Shelves: review
Very good. Not as good as The American WAy of Death but still entertaining.
Aug 06, 2009 Amy rated it liked it
an historical of childbirth in America.
Oct 03, 2007 Kelsey rated it liked it
Shelves: culture
Both entertaining and enlightening.
Aug 20, 2013 Rachel rated it liked it
not what I expected at all.
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Mar 17, 2016
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Jessica Lucy Freeman-Mitford was an English author, journalist and political campaigner, who was one of the Mitford sisters. She gained American citizenship in later life.
More about Jessica Mitford...

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