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A shocking, revelatory account of the dangerous misogyny that permeates pregnancy, birth, and early motherhood in America
Modern medicine should make pregnancy and childbirth safer for all. But in Birth Control, award-winning journalist Allison Yarrow reveals how women are controlled, traumatized, injured, and even killed because of the traditionalist practices of medical professionals and hospitals.
Ever since doctors stole control of birth from midwives in the 19th century, women have been steamrolled by a male-dominated medical establishment that has everyone convinced that birthing bodies are inherently flawed and that every pregnancy is a crisis that it alone can “solve.” Common medical practices and procedures violate human rights and the law, yet take place daily. Misogyny and racism, not scientific evidence and support, shape the overwhelming majority of America’s four million annual births.
Drawing on extensive reporting, expert interviews, an original survey of 1,300 mothers, and her own personal experiences, Yarrow documents how modern maternal health care is insidiously, purposefully designed to take power from women to the detriment of their physical and mental health—not just during labor, but for years after. She then shows a better way, exploring solutions both cutting-edge and ancient to—finally—return power and control to birthing people.
Full of urgent insights and heartfelt emotion, Birth Control is an explosive call to action.
“This book lands with the force of birth itself: powerful, natural, sublime. A must-read for anyone planning to give birth anywhere ever. A literary retribution for those of us who have already been there.”
Julie Lythcott-Haims | New York Times bestselling author of How to Raise an Adult
“If you really want to know what to expect when you are expecting, Birth Control is a must read. Yarrow takes a deep research-based dive into the modern industrial complex of birth while also normalizing and validating what so many of us have experienced. Birth Control is a path forward to getting it right. Our humanity literally depends on it.”
Eve Rodsky | New York Times bestselling author of FairPlay
“What a harrowing and necessary book. Yarrow exposes the grim reality of American childbirth while offering a personal lifeline of hope and solidarity. Birth Control is revelatory.”
Ricki Lake & Abby Epstein | Creators of the award-winning documentary The Business of Being Born
“Allison Yarrow has written a definitive book about the trauma and tragedy of the American childbirth experience.”
Soraya Chemaly | Author of Rage Becomes Her
“This fascinating, impassioned and exhaustively researched book is a must-read for anyone who has ever been involved in childbirth. Which is everyone. Allison Yarrow shines a light on misogyny in the American healthcare system, and offers hope for what giving birth can look like when women, rather than profits, are centered.”
Courtney Sullivan | New York Times bestselling author of Friends and Strangers
“Birth Control is clarion call to physicians to do better by and for birthing people. It’s time to relearn birth as a sacred event, not as the manufactured medical catastrophe waiting to happen that we’ve been indoctrinated to believe it is, and Birth Control points the way.”
Aviva Romm MD | New York Times bestselling author of Hormone Intelligence
“Birth Control tells the critically important story of how birth went from a physiologic event to a medical one with empathy, journalistic rigor and details. A must-read for anyone who is considering, cares about, or came from a birth.”
Kimberly Seals Allers | Author of The Big Letdown, Founder of Irth App