Tina Cassidy, a former Boston Globe reporter and editor, has taken a refreshingly new approach to an old and much written story – the history of childbirth.

From pre-history to modern day times, this book is an amazing read. Cassidy combines sociology, anthropology, archeology, evolution and history together in a delightfully informative concoction. Cassidy became interested in the topic of childbirth after discovering that three generations of women in her family had very different expectations about what childbirth should be like.

What I loved most about this book was the stories behind some of the well-known birth icons such as Lamaze, Freidman, Leboyer and many more. Most intriguing was the connections between those living at a similar time such as Freidman and Virginia Apgar. Cassidy makes her recount of history truly engaging and utterly entertaining – from recipes for placenta pizza toping to the case of a self- administered caesarian section, performed by a 40- year-old Mexican woman in 2002 – there is not a moment of boredom. Yet the scholarship behind her writing is evident. She has undertaken extensive research but then produced an unencumbered and politic free recounting, that is refreshing and engaging, whilst still being informative.

This is a book the lay person would certainly enjoy and not feel out of their depth, but it is still a book midwives and obstetricians could read and be amazed at how much they didn’t know. This isn’t for one minute the feminist diatribe I thought it would be. Put off initially by Cassidy’s lack of politics, I was eventually completely won over by a book made even more powerful by delving into the facts so completely that a personal commentary was not needed. Even more fascinating have been the recent revelations of Cassidy’s personal VBAC journey, embarked on after she wrote the book.

You can follow Cassidy’s story as it unfolds on her website: