Anne Lyerly |


Based on her landmark Good Birth Project, Dr. Anne Drapkin Lyerly gets beyond the "medical" versus "natural" debates and describes what matters most to women giving birth.

In her experiences over nearly two decades as an obstetrician, a researcher, and a mother, Dr. Lyerly has found that there is deep confusion over what makes for a “good birth.” Physicians and other medical personnel often focus on clinical outcomes while others focus on keeping birth “natural.” But Dr. Lyerly points out that a good birth depends on deeper considerations – ones that bring meaning to birth as one of life’s most memorable, emotional, and profound experiences. Transcending polarized and politicized debates that weigh down the current childbirth discussion, A Good Birth brings a new perspective to childbirth, paving the way for a more constructive national dialogue, while helping women explore and process what this life-changing event really means to them.

Based on in-depth interviews with more than a hundred women from all walks of life and a wide range of childbirth circumstances, Dr. Lyerly identified five themes – agency, personal security, connectedness, respect, and knowledge— common across women's stories. Weaving in her own experiences as both a mother and an obstetrician, she shows how considering these core elements of a good birth can help women, loved ones, and health care providers develop strategies to meet the physical and emotional needs of mothers and mothers-to-be, going well beyond standard birth plans and conversations. Compelling and passionate, A Good Birth radically repositions our understanding of what makes childbirth valuable and meaningful to women.

A Good Birth radically repositions our understanding of what makes childbirth valuable and meaningful to women. Dr. Anne Lyerly adds a crucial perspective to our understanding of birth, full of rich insights based on the experiences of women themselves.
Elena Gates, MD
Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco

Lyerly relies on women's voices and experiences to reclaim the birthing process from the bickering jaws of the 'birth wars' -- that polarizing debate between midwives and obstetricians that leaves many women feeling regret, self-doubt, and failure for not birthing their babies the 'right' way.
The Boston Globe

Insightful - [Lyerly] has an important message.
Publishers Weekly

A Good Birth is like no other book in the pregnancy and birthing literature. Annie Lyerly's beautiful prose helps all of us understand what we each should do, and expect of one another, to make every birth a good birth.
Ruth R. Faden, PhD, MPH
Philip Franklin Wagley Professor of Biomedical Ethics and Director, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

In listening to women, Lyerly has done much more than give them a voice; she has distilled women's hopes and fears, their passions, their love and their wisdom into a transformative vision of what birth means for all of us.
Elizabeth Mitchell Armstrong, PhD
Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University

“Directly yet compassionately addresses the issues surrounding what constitute an unconstrained ‘good’ birth and the primary goals associated with it. . . . [Lyerly’s] comforting and informational guidebook will be useful for those seeking to explore the less-obvious components of parturition. Positive, sympathetic and diverse perspectives for past, present and future mothers-to-be.”
Kirkus Reviews

Lyerly skillfully and sensitively helps prospective mothers identify what matters most to them as they enter the increasingly complex world of maternity care options, underscoring the importance of collaboration amongst all caregivers to better support women.
Judy Norsigian
Executive Director, Our Bodies Ourselves

A beautifully written must-read for every woman planning to give birth and for every family member, nurse, midwife and doctor who plans to care for her.
Andra H. James, MD, MPH
John M. Nokes Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Virginia

A Good Birth is a refreshing addition to research on how women who have given birth ultimately perceive and describe their experience.
Kitty Ernst, CNM, MPH
Mary Breckinridge Chair of Midwifery, Frontier Nursing University

A winning and impressive mix of research, insight and personal experience that will be a vital resource both to delivering women and those who attend their births.
Jeffrey L. Ecker, M.D.
Professor, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Harvard Medical School

With a fierce respect for women's intelligence, passion, and judgment about their bodies, Lyerly fearlessly snatches the romanticization of "good births" away from the industry of specialists and returns it to the articulate and compelling words of women.
Karla FC Holloway
James B. Duke Professor of English, Professor of Law, Duke University

Dr. Lyerly has cut through the noise of the "birth wars" to let women's voices ring through. This book is a gift to women who have or will ever give birth.
Lisa Harris, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women's Studies, University of Michigan

What "Dying Well" did to revolutionize caring practices around dying, this book does for revolutionizing caring practices around giving birth. It should be mandatory reading for health practitioners and policy makers.
Margaret Olivia Little, PhD
Director, Kennedy Institute for Ethics and Associate Professor of Philosophy, Georgetown University

Dr. Lyerly represents the new generation of women obstetrician-gynecologists who bring a new sensitivity and appreciation to what has also been a gendered debate, since male physicians hitherto predominated in the specialty. She pursues a reassessment of the intersection of medicine and culture, authority and autonomy, professionalism and patients. This book will inform all who care that women should truly experience the ‘best birth possible.'
Timothy R.B. Johnson MD, FACOG
Bates Professor of the Diseases of Women and Children Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Professor of Women's Studies University of Michigan

Lyerly aims to make doctors, moms, and moms-to-be feel less judgmental about other people's choices and more empowered when it comes to their own.