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Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349014272

Price: £12.99

ON SALE: 2nd April 2023

Genre: Health & Personal Development

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‘When a woman gives birth, she may, unwittingly, remember violent things. Ugly things. Unspoken things.’

After her twins were born, Jessica Cornwell stopped feeling. Plagued by memories of a traumatic birth, wrestling with ongoing physical pain and the brutal demands of caring for two tiny babies, she struggled to experience joy and love. Instead, she was consumed by fear and haunted by recurrent thoughts of blood and danger.

It was only when she received a diagnosis of post-partum PTSD and began therapy that Jessica was able to confront the secrets in her past. As she began to understand how her experience of birth had triggered her traumatic memories of sexual assault, she was finally able to integrate those memories into her identity as a mother and a survivor – and begin to heal.

‘A redemptive tale of the power and wisdom of women’s bodies’ Leah Hazard

‘This book undid me… and filled me with hope’ Elinor Cleghorn

‘Magnificent… a work of truth, understanding, scholarship and hope’ Susie Orbach

‘An astonishing memoir… about the intersection between birth trauma and sexual trauma, medical misogyny’ Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

What's Inside

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While reading this stunning book, a sentence from Virgina Woolf's Room of one's own came into my mind, for Birth Notes "lights a torch in that vast chamber where nobody has yet been". Jessica Cornwell explores a chamber unspoken of, cornered with spiders and nightmarish visions, where blood and milk blend, where mothers are denied words and care. This book will change lives, for it is a quest, a fight, a light, casting away hundred-years-old shadows. It is a book of love.
Adélaïde Bon, author of The Little Girl on the Ice Floe
A feat of strength. Jessica Cornwell doesn't shy away from the conflicting forces at work on women's bodies. She is open about the struggles faced during pregnancy and in early motherhood; has searched for answers to explain a legacy of undisclosed trauma in maternity care; and shows the jagged, uncomfortable journey towards recovery that PTSD survivors undertake if they are to live in the present, fully themselves. Her story is impossible to ignore. So many women will feel less alone after reading this book.
Katie Ward, author of Girl Reading
This is a magnificent book which is an odd thing to say about the work of such acute sorrow. It is also a work of truth, understanding, scholarship and hope. A major contribution to women's experience.
Susie Orbach, author of In Therapy
Birth Notes is a riveting and deeply moving examination of birth trauma and post traumatic stress in a world where new mothers and their needs are too often ignored or dangerously minimized. The misogyny laden origins of psychiatry and the medical profession are also explored, vignettes and historical information interspersed throughout a memoir as skilfully and beautifully written as I have read.
Michelle Bowdler, author of Is Rape a Crime? A Memoir, an Investigation and a Manifesto.
A hauntingly beautiful and unflinching, yet graciously shared experience of birth and mother hood. I savoured every word from the very first page, and half way through, was calling my best friends and asking them to pick this up and read!
Abi Daré, author of The Girl with the Louding Voice
An unflinchingly honest exploration of birth trauma, and ultimately a redemptive tale of the power and wisdom of women's bodies
Leah Hazard, author of Hard Pushed
An astonishing memoir. It is about the intersection between birth trauma and sexual trauma, medical misogyny, and trying to find a way to be a mother while dealing with something unspeakable. It is hugely important, courageous, and beautifully written. A rallying cry.
Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, author of The Tyranny of Lost Things
Vivid, beautiful and brave, this book undid me - and filled me with hope.
Dr Elinor Cleghorn, author of Unwell Women
Cornwell puts words to experiences that are often rendered beyond words because they are of traumas that are minimised, shamed or shunned. Her prose is presented with with arresting beauty and I know her book speaks for countless others. I'm so glad she wrote it.
Julia Bueno, author of The Brink of Being
A luminous, visceral reel of life after birth and trauma. At once devastating, validating, tender and raw, Cornwell guides us through the foundations of the hardest moments of her life with honesty and invitation. Despite its sensitive contents, I often found it impossible to put down, her words endlessly comforting in their openness. I'll be taking her words forward with me, as a talisman for what may be waiting around the corner for many of us. Anyone interested in personal histories of birth, trauma and embodiment should read this vital book for its company and consolation.
Caitriona Morton, author of How We Survive