Cover art for podcast Distillations | Science History Institute

Distillations | Science History Institute

294 EpisodesProduced by Science History InstituteWebsite

Each episode of Distillations podcast takes a deep-dive into a moment of science-related history in order to shed light on the present.


(Natural) Childbirth

Our producer is pregnant. For the past nine months people have asked what her birth plan is, which to her seems like asking what kind of weather she had planned for her wedding day. “All of a sudden my life was full of these terms: natural, medicated, doula, epidural, and it quickly became clear that there was a great debate—and I was supposed to choose a side.” 

We wanted to know when this controversy started, and why comedian Amy Schumer is joking about sea-turtle births. So we talked to Lara Freidenfelds, a historian of sexuality, reproduction, and women’s health in America, and learned some surprising things about our nation’s early childbirth practices.

Freidenfelds also shared her views about why a growing number of women are opting for unmedicated births, while Amy Tuteur, a retired obstetrician and the author of Push Back: Guilt in the Age of Natural Parenting, tells us that once upon a time all births were natural—and a lot of mothers and babies died.

Show Clock

00:01 Inside Amy Schumer: "It's Better for the Baby" 01:00 Intro 02:32 Feature story: "I Can't Get To You" 11:25 Amy Tuteur and Lara Freidenfelds discuss the history and controversy behind natural childbirth


Hosts: Michal Meyer and Bob Kenworthy Guests: Amy Tuteur and Lara Freidenfelds Reporter: Kristin Gourlay Producer: Mariel Carr Associate Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Audio Engineer: Seth G. Samuel


Music courtesy of the Audio Network.

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