cover of book

Making Babies: The Science of Pregnancy
by David Bainbridge
Harvard University Press, 2001
Paper: 978-0-674-01236-3 | Cloth: 978-0-674-00653-9
Library of Congress Classification RG558.B35 2001
Dewey Decimal Classification 618.24

Drawing on past speculation and present knowledge, reproductive biologist David Bainbridge conducts us through the forty weeks of a human pregnancy, from conception to breastfeeding, explaining the complex biology behind human gestation in a clear and unassuming manner.

Making Babies sets the latest findings in pregnancy biology in a challenging evolutionary, historical, and sociological context, proving that when it comes to drama, pregnancy has it all: sibling rivalry, a battle of the sexes, and a crisis of gender identity. Along the way, Bainbridge revisits some of the key puzzles about pregnancy: What's sex got to do with it? How does the fetus hijack its mother's immune system? What is the point, if any, of morning sickness? Just how does a fertilized ovum develop into eight pounds or so of baby, with ten fingers and ten toes? Does the baby or the mother control the onset of labor, and why is it such an ordeal for them both?

Entertaining and informative, Making Babies shows how the study of human pregnancy can help us understand our genesis as individuals and our evolution as a species, and provide insight into who we are and why we behave as we do.

Table of Contents:


Breaking the Cycle
Making Babies
The Visitor Within
The Visitor Without

Further Reading

Reviews of this book:
[Bainbridge's] insight explodes off the page...[Making Babies] reads like a whodunnit. A ripping yarn and irresistible--I read it at one sitting.
--Miriam Stoppard, Times Higher Education Supplement [UK]

Bainbridge...tackles his subject by posing five major questions about pregnancy: Why do humans reproduce the way they do--in other words: why sex? How does the maternal body "know" it's pregnant? How is a baby...develop[ed] from a fertilized egg into fully-formed fetus? Why doesn't the maternal immune system reject the intruding fetus? And how do mother and baby survive the birth process? Meanwhile, all the wonder of the natural process is captured here.
--Kirkus Reviews

What was known in Britain as A Visitor Within gets a more down-to-earth, less scientific title for American consumption but still brims with lucid science writing, clear technical and hypothetical explanation, and delightful personal touches. Anatomist Bainbridge became professionally interested in pregnancy when his wife lost their first baby. After considerable investigation, he discovered that people generally have five questions about pregnancy: Why do we reproduce as we do? How does a woman learn she is pregnant? How is a baby put together? How does a fetus save itself from being attacked as a foreign body within its mother? And how do mother and baby survive labor to become healthy partners. Bainbridge sets scientific knowledge in its historical context throughout but also points out what remains unknown, and he explodes such major myths as that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. First-time parents-to-be, parents of several offspring, and mere scientists and nonscientists simply interested in pregnancy stand to be fascinated and informed by Bainbridge.
--William Beatty, Booklist

We often speak of the miracle of birth, but Bainbridge's book proves that the cliche has substance. A reproductive biologist and veterinarian who teaches at the Royal Veterinary College in London, Bainbridge has written a fascinating account...[He] explains complex physiological processes with wit and clarity. Unlike traditional pregnancy books like What to Expect When You're Expecting, this study remains at the molecular level, concentrating on the intricate developmental process that includes pregnancy, birth, and lactation.
--Barbara M. Bibel, Library Journal

[Bainbridge] covers his subject like an academic reporting for the National Enquirer. His eye for the sensational and amusing aspects of pregnancy, combined with his understated sense of humor, results in a more digestible--but still solidly scientific--read.
--Bethany Torode, Books & Culture

This lucid and engaging text covers childbirth from conception to lactation and examines the complex biology of human gestation...Making Babies is an accessible, insightful, and mesmerizing tour of our beginnings.
--Science News

In this fascinating approach to pregnancy, Bainbridge poses questions that have perplexed scientists ever since the discovery that pregnancy is a partnership between mother and fetus...He writes as a father and as the husband of a woman who has had difficult pregnancies, which may explain his startling prediction for the future of this universal human experience: a Brave New World-style artificial gestation.
--Roni Ramos, Fit Pregnancy

British biologist Bainbridge...writes from the perspective of recent fatherhood. With grace, humor, and an enormous respect for pregnancy and mothering, Bainbridge takes us through a chapter-by-chapter account of what happens during pregnancy, and, more importantly, why it happens...To his credit, Bainbridge summarizes both theory and speculation, giving thoughtful opinions of why some beliefs lack accuracy.
--M. K. Snooks, Choice

What makes this book so good is that Bainbridge not only explains pregnancy clearly and easily, he does it in such an engaging way. Going beyond the usual anatomical fare, he gives the reader underlying theories and an evolutionary viewpoint of the biology of motherhood. Bainbridge does what too few scientists are able to do: write about science in a way that a layperson cannot only understand, but wants to read. This is an excellent example of how good science writing can be.
--Meredith Small, Cornell University, author of Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent

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