Kitzinger, Sheila 1929-

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KITZINGER, Sheila 1929-

PERSONAL: Born March 29, 1929, in Taunton, England; daughter of Alexander and Clare (Bond) Webster; married Uwe W. Kitzinger (dean of a French business school); children: Celia, Nell, Tess, Polly, Jenny. Education: Ruskin College, Oxford, Diploma (social anthropology; with distinction), 1951; St. Hugh's College, Oxford, B.Litt. (anthropology), 1956. Politics: Labour. Religion: Society of Friends (Quaker). Hobbies and other interests: Painting.

ADDRESSES: Home—The Manor, Standlake, near Witney, Oxfordshire OX29 7RH, England. Office—National Childbirth Trust, 9 Queensborough Ter., London W2, England. Agent—Hilary Rubinstein, A. P. Watt and Son, 26/28 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4HL, England.

CAREER: University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, researcher on race relations in Britain, 1951-53; National Childbirth Trust, London, England, prenatal teacher and counselor, 1958—; teacher of midwifery, Wolfson School of Health Sciences. Lecturer in England for Department of Education and Science, at universities and teacher training colleges, and to nurses and social workers; lecturer in United States for International Childbirth Education Association and American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics, 1972; has also lectured and conducted workshops in Canada, Sweden, and South Africa.

MEMBER: Institute of Health Educators.

AWARDS, HONORS: Joost de Blank Award for research, 1972; honorary professor, Thames Valley University.


The Experience of Childbirth, Gollancz (London, England), 1962, 4th edition, Taplinger (New York, NY), 1972.

An Approach to Antenatal Teaching (booklet), National Childbirth Trust (London, England), 1968.

Giving Birth: The Parent's Emotions in Childbirth, Gollancz (London, England), 1971, Taplinger (New York, NY), 1972.

(Editor) Episiotomy: Physical and Emotional Aspects, National Childbirth Trust (London, England), 1972, revised edition published as Episiotomy and the Second Stage of Labor, Pennypress (Seattle, WA), 1984.

Counselling for Childbirth, Bailliere Tindall, 1977.

Journey through Birth (cassette tapes), International Childbirth Education Association, 1977.

Women As Mothers, Fontana Books (London, England), 1978.

(Editor, with John A. Davis) The Place of Birth: A Study of the Environment in Which Birth Takes Place with Special Reference to Home Confinements, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1978.

Birth at Home, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1979.

Education and Counseling for Childbirth, Schocken Books (New York, NY), 1979.

The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth, Knopf (New York, NY), 1984, revised edition, 1996, published as The New Pregnancy and Childbirth: Choices and Challenges, Dorling Kindersley (London, England), 2003, 4th edition, Knopf (New York, NY), 2004.

Well-Being: An Introduction to Health, Scott, Foresman (Glenview, IL), 1980.

Women's Experience of Sex, Putnam (New York, NY), 1983.

Birth over Thirty, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1985.

Being Born, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1986.

The Experience of Breastfeeding, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1987.

Your Baby, Your Way: Making Pregnancy Decisions and Birth Plans, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 1987.

Breastfeeding Your Baby, Knopf (New York, NY), 1989, revised edition, 1998.

Giving Birth: How It Really Feels, Noonday Press (New York, NY), 1989.

The Crying Baby, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1990.

Homebirth: The Essential Guide to Giving Birth outside of the Hospital, Dorling Kindersley (New York, NY), 1991, 2nd edition published as Birth Your Way, Dorling Kindersley (London, England), 2002.

(Editor) The Midwife Challenge, Pandora (London, England), 1991.

(With daughter, Celia Kitzinger) Tough Questions: Talking Straight with Your Kids about the Real World, Harvard Common Press (Boston, MA), 1991.

Birth over Thirty-five, Sheldon Press (London, England), 1994.

The Year after Childbirth: Surviving and Enjoying the First Year of Motherhood, Scribner (New York, NY), 1994, published as The Year after Childbirth: Enjoy Your Body, Your Relationships, and Yourself in Your Baby's First Year, Fireside Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Ourselves As Mothers: The Universal Experience of Motherhood, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1995.

Becoming a Grandmother: A Life Transition, Scribner (New York, NY), 1996.

A Celebration of Birth, 1997.

(With Celia Kitzinger) Talking with Children about Things That Matter, Pandora (London, England), 2000.

Rediscovering Birth, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Contributor to books, including: Alioune Diop, editor, Les Etudiants noirs parlent, Presence Africaine, 1952; M. L. Kellmer Pringle, editor, Caring for Children, Longmans, Green, 1969, Humanities, 1970; Michael Horowitz, editor, Peoples and Cultures of the Caribbean, Natural History Press, 1971; and Margaret Laing, editor, Women on Women, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1972. Narrator for video Developing Midwifery Skills: Looking Forward to a Home Birth, Mark-It Television, 2000. Contributor of articles and reviews to New Society, Vogue, Nursing Mirror, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and other periodicals.

Kitzinger's books have been translated into nineteen languages.

SIDELIGHTS: Sheila Kitzinger has written extensively on childbirth, particularly on home birth. Her Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth, which has sold some 500,000 copies worldwide, is a standard in its field, while The Experience of Childbirth, published in 1962, presents "a radical woman-centered view of birth," as a writer for Mothering explained. Noemie Maxwell in Library Journal described Kitzinger as "a well-known birth educator and activist."

Kitzinger's Experience of Childbirth broke new ground, not with its subject matter but with its approach. Julie Akhurst, writing online for Junior magazine, recounted that, "as an anthropologist, Kitzinger wrote about birth as a highly personal, sexual and social event. No one had ever done so before, but it rang a bell with millions of women." In addition, Kitzinger was among the first to popularize relaxation and breathing techniques now commonly used throughout the world. She also argued on behalf of home birth, a topic she has continued to champion over the years.

In The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth, Kitzinger covers such issues as how to choose a doctor, whether to give birth at home or in a hospital, prenatal concerns, labor, and delivery. Mary Frances Wilkens in Booklist noted that "no other source offers such a complete and educated look at childbirth choices for mothers-to-be." But Kitzinger goes beyond such questions to argue that, as she states, "the woman is active birthgiver rather than a passive patient." This approach, according to Naomi Yavneh in Whole Earth, "really sets this book apart" and makes The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth "a best bet for the woman who wants a healthy and informed pregnancy."

Kitzinger once wrote: "Birth, like death, is an experience in which we all share. It can either be a disruption in the flow of human existence, a fragment which has little or nothing to do with loving and being loved or with the passionate longing which created the baby, or it can be lived with beauty and dignity, and labour itself be a celebration of joy. Birth is a part of a woman's very wide psychosexual experiences and is intimately concerned with her feelings about and sense of her own body, her relations with others, her role as a woman, and the meaning of her personal identity. I feel that in choosing to write about childbirth I am at the hub of life."



Booklist, November 1, 1994, Denise Perry Donavin, review of Ourselves As Mothers: The Universal Experience of Motherhood, p. 463; September 15, 1996, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth, p. 179.

Family Matters, winter, 2000, review of Talking with Children about Things That Matter, p. 71.

Lancet, April 3, 1999, "Sheila Kitzinger," p. 1198.

Library Journal, November 15, 1991, KellyJo Houtz Parish, review of Homebirth: The Essential Guide to Giving Birth Outside of the Hospital, p. 102; November 1, 1996, Rebecca Cress-Ingebo, review of The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth, p. 100; September 15, 2000, Noemie Maxwell, review of Rediscovering Birth, p. 106.

Midwifery Today, autumn, 2002, Cher Mikkola, review of Birth Your Way, p. 63.

Mothering, September, 1999, "Living Treasures: Sheila Kitzinger," p. 96.

Ms., January-February, 1995, Barbara Findlen, "Bold Type: Childbirth Is Powerful," p. 69.

Natural Health, May-June, 1995, Ellen Grimm, review of Ourselves As Mothers, p. 166.

Nursing Times, January 4, 1995, Joanna Trevelyan, review of The Year after Childbirth: Surviving the First Year of Motherhood, p. 51; September 6, 1995, Joanna Trevelyan, "Home Birth and Other Alternatives to Hospital," p. 62; November 16, 2000, Anne Gulland, "Back to the Basics," p. 10.

Publishers Weekly, July 12, 1991, review of Tough Questions: Talking Straight with Your Kids about the Real World, p. 62; July 22, 1996, review of Becoming a Grandmother, p. 221.

Special Delivery, winter, 1991, Rahima Baldwin, review of Homebirth, p. 15; spring, 2000, Annmarie G. Klyzub Kalmar, review of Developing Midwifery Skills: Looking Forward to a Home Birth, p. 26.

Whole Earth, summer, 1998, Naomi Yavneh, review of The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth, p. 79.


Junior Online, (March 20, 2003), Julie Akhurst, "Sheila Kitzinger: The Woman Who Changed Childbirth."

Sheila Kitzinger Web site, (November 12, 2003).*