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What Does It Feel Like Being Born?

Jodie Miller



Author name: Jodie Miller

Book title: What Does It Feel Like Being Born? A memoir of maternity activism

Genre: Creative non-fiction / memoir / women’s issues

Launch date: November 2020


Jodie Miller Writes

Shawline Publishing

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It’s 1999 and Jodie doesn’t want children. When her husband threatens, baby or bust, she resists. But 30 is approaching, and her eggs aren’t getting younger.

By chance, Jodie gets access to the only public Birth Centre in South East Queensland; one of two in the entire state. She is profoundly changed by her baby’s beautiful birth and becomes an advocate at the hospital while a larger, national campaign for birth reform is growing.

Having babies herself and supporting others in birth, Jodie uncovers the secret women’s business that conservative obstetricians deny and resist.

In Australia, one-third of all births are caesarean and one in ten women experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. If reproduction is a feminist issue, welcome to the forgotten women’s movement


Our high caesarean rate is a blight on women’s health care in Australia. Jodie presents her own story as a case study for how midwifery care can make birth kinder and safer for *all* women.

Let's talk about it

Why did you choose these themes in your book and were you aware of them from the outset?

This book nagged me for years. Even while we were living the activism, I recall saying to my colleagues, ‘we are making history here, someone should write a book about it.’

At the time, Bridget Jones’ Diary (movie) was breaking the box office on the back of the successful book. Chick Lit was ‘a thing’ and we hated how childbirth was always portrayed in a negative and disempowering way.

Initially, this book was intended as a fairly academic history book. It took years for me to realise that putting myself into the story would make it accessible to a wider audience.

How difficult was it for you to write this book? Did you face any obstacles?

I think fear is inherent in writing any memoir. In my case, it wasn’t just *my* story, but also many other people’s stories I felt unsure about appropriating. Legally, I worried about defamation and libel (still do). Also, in writing about an institution as enormous as the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, I feel like David vs Goliath, and hope my tiny stone will hit its mark without collateral damage.

Do you always write in this genre or do you like to break out of the box?

I predominantly write memoir and personal essay but I experiment with Haiku and Tanka forms of poetry and lyrical observation. There always has to be an ‘aha moment’.

What are your writing habits or idiosyncrasies?

I can only write effectively at my own desk. I write longhand in a notebook when away from home. I am not a writer who sits in cafes or takes a laptop on holiday. It’s a kind of performance anxiety, I suppose.

What would you do differently next time?

As this was my first book, I don’t know that I could have done anything differently. I needed all the false starts and irrelevant tangents to discover my voice and tone. Once I found it, the rest flowed easily. Fortunately, I know what I want to write next and how I will write it. It won’t take 10 years like the first one!

With hindsight, what would you say to yourself as a fledgling writer?

Feel the fear and write it anyway.

If you worked with a professional editor, what was the experience like?

It was wonderful. I loved it.

What’s next for your writing?

A true romance set in Brisbane and Tokyo at the dawn of the internet age.

Author Bio

Jodie Miller -Headshot

Jodie recently returned to writing when the idea for her book became too compelling to refuse. She lives on acreage in Brisbane’s outskirts with her husband, four children, three dogs and a small business she operates from home

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