Womb: The Inside Story of Where We All Began (Hardcover)
“Page for page, I may not have ever learned more from a book.... Womb is a history book as well as a biology book but it’s also an adventure and a celebration.” —Rob Delaney, actor and author of A Heart That Works
A groundbreaking, triumphant investigation of the uterus—from birth to death, in sickness and in health, throughout history and into our possible future—from midwife and acclaimed writer Leah Hazard
The size of a clenched fist and the shape of a light bulb—with no less power and potential. Every person on Earth began inside a uterus, but how much do we really understand about the womb?
Bringing together medical history, scientific discoveries, and journalistic exploration, Leah Hazard embarks on a journey in search of answers about the body’s most miraculous and contentious organ. We meet the people who have shaped our relationship with the uterus: doctors and doulas, yoni steamers and fibroid-tea hawkers, legislators who would regulate the organ’s very existence, and boundary-breaking researchers on the frontiers of the field.
With a midwife’s warmth and humor, Hazard tackles pressing questions: Is the womb connected to the brain? Can cervical crypts store sperm? Do hysterectomies affect sexual pleasure? How can smart tampons help health care? Why does endometriosis take so long to be diagnosed? Will external gestation be possible in our lifetime? How does gender-affirming hormone therapy affect the uterus? Why does medical racism impact reproductive healthcare?
A clear-eyed and inclusive examination of the cultural prejudices and assumptions that have made the uterus so poorly understood for centuries, Womb takes a fresh look at an organ that brings us pain and pleasure—a small part of our bodies that has a larger impact than we ever thought possible.
Leah Hazard graduated from Harvard University, working in print journalism and television before the births of her two daughters prompted her to change direction. She is now a practicing NHS midwife in Scotland and has worked in a wide variety of clinical areas, from labor wards to outpatient clinics, delivering hundreds of babies and caring for countless families along the way. Her memoir, Hard Pushed: A Midwife’s Story was a Sunday Times bestseller in the UK. Leah hosts the popular podcast What the Midwife Said and is a frequent commentator on women’s health across the media.
“Leah Hazard conducts a searching and compassionate investigation into ‘the most miraculous and misunderstood organ in the human body.’ . . . All but the most learned medical historians will be astonished by what Hazard reveals, both in the scope of what the womb can do and in the work it has taken, over several centuries, to produce our still-evolving body of knowledge about the organ.” — New York Times Book Review
“Leah Hazard approaches a fascinating topic with professional expertise and lively human sympathy.” — Hilary Mantel
“Hazard delivers a bravura cultural history of the uterus and the politics that surround it…. Hazard’s eye is keen, her range broad, and her tone scrupulously compassionate.... This is essential reading."
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[Hazard] fearlessly tackles the myths, history, and science of the uterus in this new book…. A revelatory, straightforward, and important work.” — Library Journal (starred review)
“Meticulously researched and powerfully told, Womb is an awe-inspiring exploration of one of the most misunderstood organs of the human body. Compassionate and compelling, Leah Hazard's vital new narrative reveals the importance of understanding the uterus for body autonomy, reproductive justice, and human rights. A phenomenal book.”
— Elinor Cleghorn, author of Unwell Women
“An erudite, compassionate and fascinating biography of a much-maligned organ. Womb is sharp and political, learned and wise, and urgent and necessary. Above all else, Leah Hazard is a brilliant storyteller. I loved it.”
— Katherine May, author of Wintering
“Page for page, I may not have ever learned more from a book. And I enjoyed myself throughout. Yes, Womb is a history book as well as a biology book but it’s also an adventure and a celebration. It’s sensitive but unflinching and a very, very worthy introduction to an organ I once inhabited but can only now say I truly appreciate. I loved this book.” — Rob Delaney, actor and author of A Heart That Works
"Well-researched and enlightening." — Kirkus Reviews