"Supported by ample data and suffused with anger,” an award-winning journalist “convincingly recasts this country’s maternal health care system as needlessly dehumanizing” (New York Times Book Review).
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.
Allison Yarrow is an award-winning journalist, speaker, and author of 90s Bitch,a finalist for the Los Angeles Press Club book award. She was a National Magazine Award Finalist, a TED resident, a producer at NBC News and Vice, a reporter and editor at Newsweek and The Daily Beast, and her writing and commentary have appeared in many publications.
"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
“As Yarrow wrests the agency and sanctity of birthing bodies from the control of modern medicine, 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. Allison 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 Fair Play
“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.”
“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 health care system and offers hope for what giving birth can look like when women, rather than profits, are centered.”—J. Courtney Sullivan, New York Times–bestselling author of Friends and Strangers
“Yarrow shines a light on a very dark truth: American obstetrics is failing women, too often putting profit over not only medical evidence but the interests and safety of pregnant, birthing, and new mothers. This book is a clarion call to physicians to do better by and for birthing people, and it’s a reminder to those on the path to motherhood that they have the right to safe, respectful, and truly evidence-based care—which includes the ancient and the modern, the home and the hospital, and is best protected by midwives, doulas, and those who see birth as a natural, physiologic experience. 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