The Myth of the Perfect Pregnancy: A History of Miscarriage in America


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.2 X 9.3 X 1.1 inches | 1.15 pounds

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About the Author

A historian of health, reproduction, and parenting in America, Lara Freidenfelds is the author of The Modern Period: Menstruation in Twentieth-Century America. She holds a PhD in the history of science from Harvard University and blogs at and She and her familylive in New Jersey.


"This social and medical history of the role of miscarriage will be useful for people planning a family, women who have had a miscarriage, and gender studies students." -- Library Journal

"This lively and informative book is simultaneously an exploration of contemporary 'mommy blogs' and a deeply researched history of childbirth in America. By focusing on the history of miscarriage, it casts new light on almost every aspect of our modern reproductive system, from technological innovations like sonograms to the semantics of abortion debates. It is an innovative and powerful contribution to history and to present-day discourse on childbearing." -- Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, author of A Midwife's Tale

"Bravo! Freidenfelds has delivered a formidable and gripping account of pregnancy loss in America. She weaves the voices of women today and generations past with keen historical and scientific insights. The Myth of the Perfect Pregnancy shines a much-needed light on miscarriage, a subject that has, until now, been hidden from both casual conversations and scholarly scrutiny." -- Randi Hutter Epstein, author of Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank

"Freidenfelds captures the dramatic transformation of the ideal of pregnancy over the past two hundred years, from a normal, accepted part of a colonial woman's life to the highly monitored, commercialized, and emotional-laden experiences of 21st century women. With sensitivity and care she explores the experience of pregnancy loss, which remains a common yet rarely publicly discussed occurrence." -- Rima D. Apple, author of Perfect Motherhood: Science and Childrearing in America

"The Myth of the Perfect Pregnancy offers far more than a meticulously researched historical perspective on reproductive health and parenting attitudes. It also provides critical insight to the present, with a lesson that much of childbearing and childrearing is out of our control, to expect and accept the ups and downs of life and the inevitable mistakes we will make as parents. Freidenfelds has used facts to illustrate how our perfectionist parenting standards came about, so that we may forgive ourselves our imperfections. This is a message many parents, myself included, need to hear and be reminded of. Freidenfelds' work can help shift the current culture of parenting, and we will all benefit." -- Monique Tello, MD, MPH, FACP, Massachusetts General Hospital

"[The Myth of the Perfect Pregnancy] takes all of those truths and puts them in historical and contemporary context. The result is an important and fascinating book that... will resonate with, and maybe bring a measure of relief to, countless families." -- Heidi Stevens, The Chicago Tribune