The book I now hold in my hands is a jewel of a classic. Its first edition was published about forty years ago. This is the fourth 2003 edition and still a very valid book to answer the question of “Where did I come from, Mommy?”
Yet, this book is not for answering a child’s probing questions only; it enlightens anyone who wants to explore the miracle of a human being’s coming to life. A collective work of a famous photographer and an obstetrician, the book examines the miracle of birth from the point of conception to the moment of delivery. It is not just a story of birth, however, but a pictorial, informative journey.
350 new photographs have been added to the fourth edition, making the book a spectacular chronicle of a picturesque and informational voyage with a developing fetus. This book is not a pregnancy guide; although, it celebrates a newly forming life step by step through the amazing wizardry of photography. The unedited, groundbreaking photographs show all aspects and details of life from conception to birth.
One wonders how the camera took all those photos, like the first few cluster of cells of the fetus or the heart of the fetus as the first formed organ, and how it got into those impossible places and with such detail and clarity. The text, too, is clearly written, informative, and detailed.
“A Child is Born” has six chapters. The first four are “Woman and Man,” “Fertilization and Conception,” “Pregnancy” (in three parts as–Weeks 3-12, Weeks 13-26, and Weeks 27-40) and “Labor and Delivery.” The fifth chapter, “When Nature Needs Help,” investigates the fertility problems and different ways of helping conception. Sixth and the last chapter “The Adventure Begins,” is about bringing the new baby home.
The book is in hardcover and 240 pages with ISBN: 038533754X
The author, Lars Hamberger, M.D., is the professor and the chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Gothenburg University, Sweden. Famous for his research and writing in the medical field, Hamberger has worked with the photographer of the book, Lennart Nilsson since the third edition of the book.
Lennart Nilsson is a pioneer in medical photography. Born in 1922, he started off as a magazine photographer for companies such as Åhlén & Åkerlund in Stockholm during the mid 1940’s.
When he was assigned to do a portrait of a professor at Sabbatsbergs Hospital in Stockholm, he saw some embryos stored in glass jars. The development of the embryos that had progressed so far after only a few weeks captured his attention and he photographed them.
In 1953, these photos were met with enthusiasm when published by Life Magazine. This lead to the first edition of “A child is born.” With the publication of “A child is born” in 1965, Life Magazine did a feature article that ran sixteen pages plus the cover with pictures from the book. The eight million copies that made up the edition were sold out in four days. The article was published simultaneously in Stern, Paris Match, Sunday Times, and other magazines.
Throughout the years, Lennart Nilsson received many awards for his photographic work such as: The Little Nobel Prize, Hasselblad’s Prize, Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences’ Big Gold Medal, and the 12th presentation of Illis quorum. In 1982 he received an Emmy for his film, “The Saga Of Life” and in 1996 an additional Emmy for the TV series, “The Miracle of Life”. Lennart Nilsson was also designated an Honorary Doctor of Medicine by the Karolinska Institute in 1976 and he is Honorary Doctor of Philosophy of the Technische Unversität Braunschweig in Germany (2002) as well as of Linköping University in Sweden (2003).
NASA’s unmanned spacecraft Voyager I and Voyager II both carried photographs from “A Child is Born” on their journey through our solar system and out into the universe. Lennart Nilsson’s work can be found in collections at a number of museums and institutions, including the British Museum in London, Tokyo Fuji Art Museum and the Modern Museum in Stockholm.
Lennart Nilsson’s books are: Life in Sea, 1959; Halleluja, 1963; A Child is Born 1965, 1976, 1990, 2003; Behold Man, 1973; How was I Born? 1975; Close to Nature, 1984; The Body Victorious, 1985; Being Born, 1986; The Incredible Machine, 1986; and Images of his life, 2002.
This book is not only for expectant parents, but also for grandparents, for siblings and for all people who respect the miracle of life.