Invisible Labor: The Untold Story of the Cesarean Section

Ecco: HarperCollins. Jun. 2024. 336p. ISBN 9780063264410. $32. WOMEN’s STUDIES
Somerstein’s (journalism, State Univ. of New York at New Paltz) debut book, in addition to being a history of the Caesarean section birth, draws attention to the deeply internalized sense of fear and shame many women have about C-sections, one of the most frequently performed major surgeries in the U.S. She shares the trauma that resulted from her own unplanned C-section and how it affected her in both visible and invisible ways. Her book addresses systemic failures that she asserts are ignored more often than not. Her research meticulously demonstrates that many women lack access or face barriers to health care due to their race—the maternal death rates of Black women in America are staggeringly high—and to their socioeconomic status. Somerstein asserts that the medical industry places most of the responsibility to safely carry a baby to term on pregnant women. She investigates the historical, medical, and dangerous aspects of C-sections to prove that her call for reproductive justice is needed.
VERDICT This inciting, empowering book shows the clear need not just to improve women’s access to health care but also to shift the paradigm about the restrictions placed on reproductive rights.
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