Lamaze: An International History by Paula A. Michaels
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I quite enjoyed this book. Although written by an historian and published by an academic press, it's very accessible. The author came to write it because she was surprised to find out during her first pregnancy that the Lamaze method of prepared childbirth, which she had always assumed was developed in France, was in fact imported by Dr. Lamaze from the Soviet Union. She was particularly surprised because her field of specialty is Russian medical history and she didn't know this!
I have no such credentials but was also surprised that Lamaze, also known as psychoprophylaxis, is not French in origin. That was the hook that got me into the book, but I stayed for the really intriguing take she has on childbirth and culture and how they interact. By following this method from its Soviet origins to France to England and other places in Europe and across the ocean to the US, she chronicles how the meaning of its use was affected by and affected each culture. It was fascinating how the same technique can be viewed as liberating to some women and oppressive to others. She's full of interesting ideas about the intersection of childbirth, culture, and women's power and agency.
Recommended to those interested in women and in pregnancy/childbirth.
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