Good Girls and Their Helpful Husbands: A Transnational History of the Lamaze Method of Childbirth Preparation, 1930-80


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars




For residence at the National Humanities Center during academic year 2008-2009


This study situates the international story of psychoprophylaxis, popularized in the United States as the Lamaze Method, against the backdrop of postwar pronatalism and the Cold War. This project reconstructs the transmission of psychoprophylaxis across the Iron Curtain and inquires into how changing political, economic, and cultural contexts shaped not only the method’s practice, but the social meaning that both advocates and detractors ascribed to it. The methods of medical anthropology and the social history of medicine, brought to bear on a wide array of published and archival sources from the USSR, France, and the United States, shed light on shifting socially constructed notions of motherhood, childbirth, pain, and civic duty.