Encyclopedia of Childbearing: Critical Perspectives

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Overview

Childbearing is more than pregnancy and labor. It is the having and not having of children. It is a profound event in the lives of families-and in the lives and bodies of women. The feminist movement and the development of feminist studies have helped to rehumanize the subject of childbearing by removing it from the remote environment of institutionalized medicine. The multi-disciplinary Encyclopedia of Childbearing is a major contribution to this new accessibility.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This fine encyclopedia examines childbearing from nontechnical perspectives: social, political, psychological, artistic, etc. . . . Rothman, a respected sociologist and author of several important books on pregnancy and motherhood, rejoices in the diversity of material. . . . [T]he book is handsomely printed on permanent paper, with a few black and white photographs and drawings. Highly recommended."

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Choice

"A wide range of topics is covered in the 250 signed, alphabetically arranged entries that vary from one to three pages in length. . . . The Encyclopedia of Childbearing is an interesting compendium that will be of use to students as well as general readers."

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Booklist/Reference Books Bulletin

"It is a rather eclectic alphabetical arrangment of individual articles by experts and practitioners in many fields. Many are fascinating, particularily articles on birth imagery in art and the history of various aspects of childbirth in the United States. . . . [T]his is an unusual work and could be useful for many arcane topics related to childbearing."

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ARBA

"Outstanding Reference Book."

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RASD/

"Well-organized, open-minded, up-to-date, and wide-ranging are just a few adjectives that describe this fascintating book, and readers of all persuasions will spend many a pleasant and educational hour with it."

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Midwifery Today

Zom Zoms
The subject of this encyclopedia is birth studies, a relatively new academic discipline growing out of feminist studies. Rather than focusing on the medical aspects of childbearing, the work's premise is that "pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood are social constructions, and the practices, imagery, and technology a culture develops, or even in the case of science fiction, imagines developing, grow out of this cultural grounding." Contributors include scholars from such diverse fields as anthropology, art history, childbirth education, ethics, law, nursing, literature, women's studies, and medicine. The tone of the articles reflects the authors' areas of expertise; some entries demand a familiarity with the language of medicine and scholarship, while others are easily understood by the layperson A wide range of topics is covered in the 250 signed, alphabetically arranged entries that vary from one to three pages in length. Articles are included on such medical issues as "Ectopic Pregnancy" and "Shoulder Dystocia", as well as on such practical topics as "Infant Feeding and Care" and "Shoes for Babies". These are juxtaposed with articles on the treatment of pregnancy and childbirth in art and literature ("Creation Stories in Western Culture", "Goddess Imagery"), legal issues ("Birth Certificates", "Rights of the Pregnant Patient"), caregivers ("Labor Partners", "Witch Midwives"), as well as the clinical and anthropological aspects of couvade (male symptoms of pregnancy). Among the many unique entries are "Childbearing in Prison"; "Amniocentesis, History of"; and "Diapers: Environmental Concerns". Some entries are on specialized, narrow topics, for example, "The Pregnant Therapist" and "Midwives, Southern Black". Several articles discuss childbirth practices in a small number of countries other than the U.S.; the editor selected to profile those that "contrast with American practices, systems, values, or beliefs. A typical article is the three-page entry "Home Birth" that surveys the history of how the place of birth moved from the home to the hospital; explains why some women are again opting for home birth, most often assisted by a midwife; and advises that a lot of reading and thinking are needed before a mother chooses the option of home birth. All articles end with "see also" references and a "Resources" bibliography for further reading. The preliminaries of the book include a topical guide that organizes related articles under such subject headings as "Contraception", "Infant Feeding", and "New Procreative Technologies". An appendix lists organizations and resources dealing with such issues as adoption and midwifery. A comprehensive index concludes the book Despite the wide-ranging scope of this interdisciplinary work, absent are some topics that one would expect to find in an encyclopedia of childbirth. For example, no entry discusses multiple births as a medical phenomenon, but twins are covered in "Twins: Myths and Legends". Surprisingly, there is no overview article on abortion, but 10 separate entries on the subject are listed under "Abortion" in the topical guide. These range from a feminist, ethical analysis of the subject to coverage of RU486 The "Encyclopedia of Childbearing" is an interesting compendium of diverse information that will be of use to students as well as general readers. Large public and academic libraries will find it useful as a quick-reference source, as well as a starting point for patron research.
Booknews
Some 250 thorough and thoughtfully written entries, each with plenty of cross referencing and "resource" listings books, films, articles, make available up-to-date, authoritative information. This is a serious, useful reference much needed in an area crowded with myths and with books that perpetuate misguidance. Neither too medical/technical nor too simplistic in approach, it discusses issues important to parents-to-be and to those who deal with them. Well conceived, and well "birthed," but the inexplicable high cost will unfortunately keep it out of most home libraries and narrow its potentially wide, wide market. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780897746489
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/17/1992
  • Pages: 472
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

BARBARA KATZ ROTHMAN, Ph.D., is professor of sociology, Baruch College and the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York.

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