cover image Birth: Three Mothers, Nine Months, and Pregnancy in America

Birth: Three Mothers, Nine Months, and Pregnancy in America

Rebecca Grant. Avid Reader, $28.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-982170-42-4

Journalist Grant’s auspicious debut documents the pregnancy, birth, and initial postpartum experiences of three first-time mothers associated with Portland, Ore.’s Andaluz Waterbirth Center. The story of Jillian, a midwifery student turned birth center office manager, gives Grant the chance to chronicle the history of midwifery and portray a classic birth center experience (“The small building seemed to possess its own sense of time, as if it was a self-contained island floating separately from the rest of the world”), while sections profiling T’Nika, a Black nurse with aspirations of working in labor and delivery, include discussions of racial disparities in healthcare and what happens when circumstances require birth plans to be changed. The difficult pregnancy journey of Alison and her husband Steve touches on infertility, miscarriage, and the anxiety that medicalized birth experiences can produce. Throughout, Grant maintains a sense of intimacy while contextualizing each woman’s experiences with analysis of medical, legal, and cultural matters. Though most U.S. births happen in hospitals with obstetricians rather than midwives, Grant’s focus on one corner of maternity care allows her to show that even best-case scenarios have practical and emotional complexities. It’s an enlightening and accessible portrait of maternal healthcare in America. (Apr.)