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The First Breath: A Memoir of Motherhood and Medicine

Olivia Gordon



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09 June 2020
Memoirs; Materno-fetal medicine; Neonatal medicine; Popular medicine & health
What happens when pregnancy and the first few weeks of a baby's life don't go as planned? How have advances in modern medicine and perinatal genetics redefined our perceptions of what is possible?

The First Breath by Olivia Gordon is a powerful medical memoir about the extraordinary fetal and neonatal medicine bringing today's babies into the world. Unveiling the intense patient-doctor relationship at work with every birth, this book reflects on the cutting-edge medicine that has saved a generation of babies, the combination of love and fear a parent feels for a child they haven't yet met and what can happen before a baby's first breath.

Olivia Gordon was twenty-nine weeks pregnant when a scan found that her baby was critically ill. Thanks to a risky operation in utero and five months in neonatal care, her son survived. The First Breath is the first popular science book to tell the story of the fast developing fields of fetal and neonatal medicine. It explores motherhood and the female experience of medicine through Olivia's personal story and sensitive, intimate case histories of other mothers' high risk births.

The First Breath asks what it means to become the mother of a child who would not have survived birth only a generation ago, showing how doctors and nurses save the most vulnerable lives and how medicine has developed to make it possible for these lives to even begin.
By:   Olivia Gordon
Imprint:   Bluebird
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 196mm,  Width: 130mm,  Spine: 25mm
Weight:   260g
ISBN:   9781509871209
ISBN 10:   1509871209
Pages:   368
Publication Date:   09 June 2020
Recommended Age:   From 18 years
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Educated at Cambridge University, Olivia Gordon is a journalist who has written for publications including the Guardian, Times, Telegraph, Red and Broadly.

Reviews for The First Breath: A Memoir of Motherhood and Medicine

Beautifully written -- <b>Stevie Davies</b> This jaw-dropping story of medical discovery is interwoven with Gordon's own deeply moving story of her own experience as a new mother with a child in neonatal care. It conveys, brilliantly, the devastating emotional impact of being separated from one's child, and the shock of an unexpected diagnosis. -- <b>Useful Reading, <i>The Birth Trauma Association</i></b> A gem...So impressed by the tenderness and science -- <b>Dr Rana Awdish, author of <i>In Shock</i></b> A book full of emotion and one that medical practitioners should read -- <i><b>Jewish Chronicle</b></i> Absolutely gripping -- <b>Harriett Gilbert - BBC Radio 4 <i>A Good Read</i></b> Genuinely brilliant...exceptionally powerful, deep and important. -- <b>Professor Daniel M. Davis, author of <i>The Beautiful Cure</i> and <i>The Compatibility Gene</i></b> Extraordinary . . . An absorbing and awe-inspiring account of the extraordinary foetal and neonatal medicine that is enabling a new generation of babies to thrive. -- <b><i>The Bookseller</i></b> Exceptionally moving . . . a pleasure to read. -- <b>Professor Dame Kay E Davies, Professor of Genetics, </b><b>University of Oxford </b> A wonderfully well written, brilliant discussion of the evolution of genetics, prenatal diagnosis, fetal and neonatal medicine, ethics and popular prejudice interwoven into a framework of [the author's] own very human story and the other mothers who tell of their experiences so graphically . . . moved me to tears. -- <b>Professor Stuart Campbell, British fetal medicine pioneer</b> We take pregnancy and childbirth for granted. Now please read The First Breath and be thankful for your children's lives. A compelling and uplifting book. -- <b>Heart surgeon Professor Stephen Westaby, bestselling author of <i>Fragile Lives</i> and <i>The Knife's Edge</i></b> A meticulously researched history of fetal medicine and a heartfelt account of parenting preterm babies. -- <b>Leah Hazard, bestselling author of <i>Hard Pushed: A Midwife's Story</i></b> This touching and hopeful book skilfully interweaves medical history, reporting and - most movingly - memoir. -- <b><i>The TLS</i></b> Very powerfully told. -- <b>Emma Barnett, <i>BBC Radio 5 Live</i></b> Smart, sympathetic -- <i><b>Sunday Times Style</b></i> Part memoir, part analysis of neonatal and postnatal care. It's wonderful. -- <b>Clover Stroud, </b><b>author of <i>The Wild Other</i> and </b><b><i>My Wild and Sleepless Nights</i></b> Pacy and accessible . . . It is the female experience of such invasive surgeries that remains the focus here; expectant mothers steeling themselves for needles as long as rulers and learning to navigate a strange form of knowledge about a child that has yet to enter the world. -- <b><i>Prospect - </i></b><b>who named <i>The First Breath</i> one of the best science books of 2019</b> A touching, insightful and engaging memoir. -- <i><b>The Lancet</b></i> A triumph of memoir-cum-non-fiction and a love story starring our heroes, the NHS . . . Totally brilliant and touching . . . tender, well researched and unputdownable, the best book I've read in the last twelve months. [The First Breath] moves effortlessly between personal stories of children and cutting edge scientific research . . . [Gordon makes] us feel the great and risky adventure of surviving a difficult childhood and becoming a person: and the linked one of being a parent . . . a wonderful, intelligent writer. -- <b>Maggie Gee - BBC Radio 4 <i>A Good Read</i> choice</b> Heartstopping -- <b><i>Daily Mail</i></b> Excellent . . . A serious journalistic investigation into foetal and neonatal medicine . . . reads like a thriller. -- <b><i>The Times</i></b> Fascinating and moving. -- <b>Adam Kay, <i>Sunday Times</i> bestselling author of <i>This is Going to Hurt</i></b>

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