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Birth Notes

A Memoir of Trauma, Motherhood and Recovery
  • Author
    • Jessica Cornwell
Regular price £12.99
Regular price Sale price £12.99





Following the birth of her first children, twin boys, Jessica Cornwell collapsed in a fever. Rushed back to hospital, she was initially dismissed, before a life-threatening infection was diagnosed. Alone, recovering, watching her body bruise and break, a curious thing happened: she stopped feeling.

At home, the numbness remained. Nursing her boys through jaundice, learning to breastfeed, slowly re-emerging into a world where other mothers seemed to cope, Jessica hid her secret - she felt no love, only fear. Worse, vivid memories began to surface, of moments in her past she thought buried.

Jessica began to name, one by one, the shadows that returned to haunt her first year as a mother. And in claiming back the words, she fought to claim back her life and the love she bore her young family.

Birth Notes is the story - luminous, breathtaking and courageous - of forging a self from fragments. With eloquent rage and searing honesty, it speaks for the unvoiced and shines a light on maternal mental health. It is the love story of a mother for her children and a woman for herself.

Not available for shipping to the following countries:

  • ASM
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  • Published: Apr 02 2023
  • 196 x 126mm
  • ISBN: 9780349014272
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Press Reviews

  • Leah Hazard, author of Hard Pushed
    An unflinchingly honest exploration of birth trauma, and ultimately a redemptive tale of the power and wisdom of women's bodies
  • Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, author of The Tyranny of Lost Things
    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.
  • Katie Ward, author of Girl Reading
    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.
  • Julia Bueno, author of The Brink of Being
    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.
  • Susie Orbach, author of In Therapy
    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.
  • Michelle Bowdler, author of Is Rape a Crime? A Memoir, an Investigation and a Manifesto.
    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.
  • Caitriona Morton, author of How We Survive
    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.
  • Adélaïde Bon, author of The Little Girl on the Ice Floe
    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.
  • Abi Daré, author of The Girl with the Louding Voice
    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!
  • Dr Elinor Cleghorn, author of Unwell Women
    Vivid, beautiful and brave, this book undid me - and filled me with hope.