Make Room for Daddy

The Journey from Waiting Room to Birthing Room

By Judith Walzer Leavitt

400 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 72 illus., notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-7168-3
    Published: August 2010
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7955-4
    Published: June 2009
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-8783-7
    Published: June 2009

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Using fathers' first-hand accounts from letters, journals, and personal interviews along with hospital records and medical literature, Judith Walzer Leavitt offers a new perspective on the changing role of expectant fathers from the 1940s to the 1980s. She shows how, as men moved first from the hospital waiting room to the labor room in the 1960s, and then on to the delivery and birthing rooms in the 1970s and 1980s, they became progressively more involved in the birth experience and their influence over events expanded. With careful attention to power and privilege, Leavitt charts not only the increasing involvement of fathers, but also medical inequalities, the impact of race and class, and the evolution of hospital policies. Illustrated with more than seventy images from TV, films, and magazines, this book provides important new insights into childbirth in modern America, even as it reminds readers of their own experiences.

About the Author

Judith Walzer Leavitt is Rupple Bascom and Ruth Bleier Professor of Medical History and Women's Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
For more information about Judith Walzer Leavitt, visit the Author Page.


"A narrative history--illuminating and engaging--of what fathers actually did while mothers were giving birth over the past 80 years."--The Wall Street Journal

"Illuminates men's involvement with the childbirth experience, adding fathers-to-be as vital players in understanding American childbirth history. . . . Highly recommended.--Choice

"Amusing and absorbing throughout, this book is most provocative when it details the 'three P's': the 'place, privilege, and power' of childbirth that 'provides a lens through which to view larger issues of twentieth-century medicine and its inequalities,' class foremost among them."--The Atlantic Monthly

"A serious and meticulous investigation of territory where few scholars have previously ventured. . . . [A] much needed addition to the blossoming scholarly work on childbirth history."--Women's Review of Books

"A pioneering history. . . . A wonderful addition to the project of plumbing the Oprahatic melange of identity, sentiment, and personal need at the core of examined life in our times."--The Journal of American History

"A requisite work for medical historians . . . also recommended for obstetricians, nurses and hospital administrators as they consider policies in the twenty-first century. . . . A highly convincing and well-written book, [this] serves as a basis for future scholarship, since it enriches our understandings of the cultural and biological event of childbirth while recognising the increasing importance of men in that process"--Social History of Medicine