Make Room for Daddy: The Journey from Waiting Room to Birthing Room / Edition 1

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Using fathers' first-hand accounts from letters, journals, and personal interviews along with hospital records and medical literature, Judith Walzer Leavitt offers a new perspective on the changing role of expectant fathers from the 1940s to the 1980s. She shows how, as men moved first from the hospital waiting room to the labor room in the 1960s, and then on to the delivery and birthing rooms in the 1970s and 1980s, they became progressively more involved in the birth experience and their influence over events expanded. With careful attention to power and privilege, Leavitt charts not only the increasing involvement of fathers, but also medical inequalities the impact of race and class, and the evolution of hospital policies. Illustrated with more than seventy images from TV, films, and magazines, this book provides important new insights into childbirth in modern America, even as it reminds readers of their own experiences.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book serves as a platform for considering today's inequalities in class and race."—Nursing Standard

"Contributes mightily to the history of American childbirth, medicine, and families."—Journal of American Studies

"An extraordinary history of men and childbirth. . . . No brief review can do justice either to the sophistication and analytical depth of Make Room for Daddy, or to the sheer pleasure it is to read. . . . One of the most important books on gender and the family to be published in the past two decades. Sensitive to differences in experience by class and race, with a subtle and nuanced argument supported by broad and deep research, Make Room for Daddy is an exceptional work of history that deserves a wide scholarly and general audience."—Journal of Social History

"No brief review can do justice either to the sophistication and analytical depth of Make Room for Daddy, or to the sheer pleasure it is to read. . . . One of the most important books on gender and the family to be published in the past two decades. . . . An exceptional work of history that deserves a wide scholarly and general audience."—Journal of Social History

"Timely, erudite, and accessible. . . . Leavitt's narrative is both eloquent and analytical. . . . We now understand more about the role of men in the birthing process, greatly expanding our understanding of the history of the family, medicine, and gender."—American Historical Review

"A highly engaging, readable history, richly illustrated with photographs and cartoons. . . . A telling example of the value of questioning previously hidden or ignored aspects of a topic. . . .Restores the father to his legitimate place in the story of reproduction in American society."—Nursing History Review

"Extends beyond the history of childbirth and contributes to the fields of American social history, family history, social medicine, masculinity studies, and gender studies. . . . Contribute[s] important findings to the literature on women's health while simultaneously broadening our knowledge of larger trends in American history."—Reviews in American History

"Those who read Make Room for Daddy will benefit from the experience and likely will have a newly deepened respect for what their parents and grandparents went through as they grew their families. . . . Highly recommend[ed]."—The Father Life

"Should be read by anyone still doubting how important this change in men's roles was during the second half of the 20th century."—

"Leavitt uses dozens of humorous, nerve-wracking and often touching stories from fathers to bring these experiences to life."—Wisconsin Week
"A requisite work for medical historians . . . also recommended for obstetricians, nurses and hospital administrators as they consider policies in the twenty-first century. . . . A highly convincing and well-written book, [this] serves as a basis for future scholarship, since it enriches our understandings of the cultural and biological event of childbirth while recognising the increasing importance of men in that process"—Social History of Medicine

"A pioneering history. . . . A wonderful addition to the project of plumbing the Oprahatic melange of identity, sentiment, and personal need at the core of examined life in our times."—The Journal of American History

"A serious and meticulous investigation of territory where few scholars have previously ventured. . . . [A] much needed addition to the blossoming scholarly work on childbirth history."—Women's Review of Books

"Amusing and absorbing throughout, this book is most provocative when it details the 'three P's': the 'place, privilege, and power' of childbirth that 'provides a lens through which to view larger issues of twentieth-century medicine and its inequalities,' class foremost among them."—The Atlantic Monthly

"Illuminates men's involvement with the childbirth experience, adding fathers-to-be as vital players in understanding American childbirth history. . . . Highly recommended.—Choice

"A narrative history—illuminating and engaging—of what fathers actually did while mothers were giving birth over the past 80 years."—The Wall Street Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807871683
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 8/30/2010
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Judith Walzer Leavitt is Rupple Bascom and Ruth Bleier Professor of Medical History and Women's Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction: Men Matter 1

1 Alone Among Strangers 21

The Medicalization of Childbirth

2 Keeping Vigil 48

Fathers in Waiting Rooms

3 The Best Backrubber 86

Fathers Move into Labor Rooms

4 He Wants to Know 120

Prenatal Education for Fathers

5 Peaceful and Confident 156

Mothers and Fathers in Labor Rooms

6 Side By Side 195

Men Move into Delivery Rooms

7 We Did It 236

Together in Delivery and Birthing Rooms

Epilogue: Expectant Fathers' Expectations 284

A Note on Sources 297

Notes 299

Acknowledgments 367

Index 371

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