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
"A wise and often surprising history of how changing understandings of childbirth have transformed relations between fathers and infants, patients and hospitals, husbands and wives. Splendidly illustrated, wonderfully readable—give it to every prospective parent you know!"
-Linda K. Kerber, author of No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship

"Leavitt's richly textured account reveals unprecedented dramatic changes in men's role in childbirth from the 1930s to the 1980s. Make Room for Daddy enlarges the history of the family, masculinity, gender roles, and fatherhood; the history of medicalization, professionalism, and expertise; and the intersection of these two, the history of the medicalization of the family."
-Martin S. Pernick, University of Michigan

"Judith Walzer Leavitt takes us on a journey through the modern history of the father's role in childbirth, from being completely excluded in the waiting room to being fully included and expected to help in the delivery room. Parents and maternity caregivers will recognize and be inspired by the important changes that have taken place over the past fifty years and by the significant effects on the family with the new father's participation in birth, enhancing the bond between parent and infant as well as the bond between parents."
-Marshall Klaus, M.D., and Phyllis Klaus, M.F.T., M.L.S.W., coauthors of Your Amazing Newborn, The Doula Book, and Bonding

"With characteristic insight and great historical sophistication, Judith Walzer Leavitt narrates the remarkable story of how fathers came to participate in the birth of their children—after years of being relegated to smoke-filled waiting rooms. Make Room for Daddy is an exceptional book that reminds us of both the cultural and emotional power of the childbirth experience, not only for mothers, but for fathers and families as well."
-Allan M. Brandt, Harvard University

"Make Room for Daddy is a highly original work on a topic that has never been fully addressed by historians. Feminist scholars often recognize the need to examine the experiences of men in order to understand women's history and the impact of gender expectations on both men and women, but few focus on men with the depth and sensitivity evident in this study. This book strikes lots of emotional chords as well, and will appeal to men and women, scholars and nonacademic readers, and anyone who has gone through the process of becoming a parent or is contemplating the possibility."
-Elaine Tyler May, author of Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era

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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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