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Cesarean Section


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Table of Contents

1. The Epitome of Risk
2. Still Too Risky?
3. Risk or Remedy?
4. Assessing Risk
5. Inflating Risk
6. Operating in a Culture of Risk
7. Giving Birth in a Culture of Risk
Works Cited

Promotional Information

Why have cesarean sections become so commonplace in the United States?

About the Author

Jacqueline H. Wolf is a professor of the history of medicine at Ohio University. The author of Don't Kill Your Baby: Public Health and the Decline of Breastfeeding in the 19th and 20th Centuries and Deliver Me from Pain: Anesthesia and Birth in America, she is the host and executive producer of the podcast Lifespan: Stories of Illness, Accident, and Recovery.


An outstanding and fascinating contribution to the history of medicine, women's history, and modern social history. Ambitious in its chronological scope, accessibly written, and convincingly argued, Cesarean Section offers new and original insight into the history of childbirth, as well as important broader matters, such as medical power, the technologization of hospitals, and the ethics of modern medical care.

* Canadian Bulletin of Medical History *

Wolf draws from an impressive array of medical archives, medical literature, popular women's magazines, secondary source material, and her own oral history interviews. The outcome is a monograph that contemplates the complex factors behind the evolution of risk, technology, and birthing. Wolf deftly crafts a narrative that uses the stories of women's recollections of their birthing experience as well as those of physicians as a way to reinforce her historical analysis of medical sources and data . . . Cesarean Section will appeal to those interested in women's history and medical history as well as the relationship between culture, risk, and technology.

* Bulletin of the History of Medicine *
Cesarean Section is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of childbirth or surgery, but also those who want to read a focused case study on the evolution of medical technologies and practices in modern America. Wolf certainly makes a major contribution to the literature on reproductive health and childbirth, but her ambitious scope and methodologies-particularly the idea of risk and her use of oral histories-offer a lot to a more general audience. It would make a welcome addition to syllabi for medical and women's history classes, particularly at the graduate level.-- Kelly S. O'Donnell, Thomas Jefferson University * Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences *

Wolf's Cesarean Section is a compelling study of the procedure in the history of medicine. Her skillfully balanced monograph makes extensive use of a number of primary sources . . . This book could easily be used in a history of science and medicine course due to its accessibility.

-- John A. Carranza * Synapsis *

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