1st Edition

Motherhood Lost A Feminist Account of Pregnancy Loss in America

By Linda L. Layne Copyright 2003
    368 Pages
    by Routledge

    368 Pages
    by Routledge

    Nearly 20% of all pregnancies in the U.S. end in miscarriage or stillbirth. Yet pregnancy loss is seldom acknowledged and rarely discussed. Opening the topic to a thoughtful and informed discussion, Linda Layne takes a historical look at pregnancy loss in America, reproductive technologies and the cultural responses surrounding miscarriage. Examining both support groups and the rituals they create to help couples through loss, her analysis offers valuable insight on how material culture contributes to conceptions of personhood. A fascinating examination, Motherhood Lost is also a provocative challenge to feminists and other activists to increase awareness and provide necessary support for this often hidden but critically important topic.

    1. My Miscarriage Years2. Caught in the Middle: Pregnancy Loss at the Turn of the Century3. Studying Pregnancy Loss Support4. Challenges to Narratives of Linear Progress5. New Reproductive Technologies and the Fetal Subject 6. 'He Was a Real Baby With Baby Things': A Material Culture Analysis of Personhood, Parenthood, and Pregnancy Loss7. 'True Gifts from God': Paradoxes of Motherhood, Sacrifice, and Enrichment8. 'Never Such Innocence Again': Irony, Nature, and Technoscience 9. 'I Will Never Forget You': Trauma, Memory, and Moral Identity10. A Feminist Program for Pregnancy LossAppendix: Contact Information References CitedIndex


    Linda L. Layne is Hale Professor of Anthropology and Director of Graduate Studies on the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

    "Motherhood Lost is a beautiful and passionate book. In this insightful ethnographic investigation, Linda Layne weaves together the intersecting religious, biomedical, consumerist and familial practices that surround and construct pregnancy loss in contemporary America. This moving book enables us to understand the cultural construction of silence and forgetting that has too long accompanied the grief of miscarriage and stillbirth, beckoning us to recognize and remake a world in which women's losses can be remembered." -- Rayna Rapp, author of Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: The Social Impact of Amniocentesis in America and Professor of Anthropology, New York University
    "This is what happens when the best of anthropological insight is informed by personal experience: Linda Layne's motherhood Lost is thoughtful and thought-provoking, a contribution to both the social science literature and to the growing literature of pregnancy loss." -- Barbara Katz Rothman, author of The Book of Life; co-author, Centuries of Solace: Expressions of Maternal Grief in Popular Literature
    "Linda Layne's voice here is lucid and engaging, sophisticated without being jargon-ridden, and exceptionally convincing. Grounded in a magisterial survey of relevant literatures and in a striking sense of the lives of families and individuals in very difficult circumstances - as well as in often painful long-term relationships with a range of complex and consequential institutions - Motherhood Lost maps new and provocative scholarly territory. It is an example of anthropology at its best, addressing a cluster of significant contemporary issues with empathy, insight, and a very powerful array of interpretive strategies." -- Donald Brenneis, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz
    "Motherhood Lost gets right to the heart of the matter in describing the tragedy of pregnancy loss. From her personal experience, as well as the indepth study of other parents' experiences, Dr. Layne writes with both scholarship and passion, bringing understanding to sorrow. Her voice adds significantly to the field of perinatal loss." -- Janis L. Keyser, Ph.D., Director, UNITE Grief Support; Director, The Center for Grieving Children, Teens and Families, Philadelphia, PA
    "Pregnancy loss may not be everybody's cup of tea, but don't miss Layne's concoction: a brimming potful of interviews and insights, mixed with a pinch of piquant memoir and a splash of feminist manifesto. The result is a smart, sensible explanation of the cultural narratives that impede our ability to deal humanely with pregnancy loss. Compassionate, sensitive, and pragmatic, Motherhood Lost offers us a compelling recipe for social change." -- Lynn M. Morgan is co-editor of Fetal Subjects, Feminist Positions
    "Linda Layne has authored an unparalleled and scholarly work, giving light and voice to the silent despair suffered through the ages by countless parents whose children have died before birth. Dr. Layne has embraced through her personal journey and her in-depth study, the very core of the complexity of understanding what mothers feel when they endure a pregnancy loss, how society has ignored these feelings and why we must now, remove our estrangement from these 'unspeakable losses,' acknowledge them, strive to understand them and above all comfort those who suffer them. It is my hope and expectation that those who read Motherhood Lost will hear and come to know the silent voice in the butterfly's breath-and understand." -- Michael R. Berman, M.D. Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yale University School of Medicine, author of Parenthood Lost: Healing the Pain after Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Death
    "I read Linda's work to the wee hours of the morning and was awestruck by her in-depth historical account of the pregnancy loss movement in our country. I was touched how the time line of perinatal loss growth was richly discerned by the stories of those who walked the journey of grief. By sharing the personal accounts she provided validation to the women who often grieve silently plus educated those whose lives are entrusted to their care. Motherhood Lost not only provided an eye-opening explanation of the past and present issues but also in essence will open new doors for tomorrows by escalating the awareness of this very important issue for all women, not just the bereaved." -- Cathi Lammert, Executive Director, SHARE Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc.

    "...[R]efreshing and brave." -- Claire Wendland, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Feminist Collections