What, No Baby?

[missing asset]

What, No Baby? takes us on journey into the lives of contemporary women who plan to have it all – marriage, motherhood and work – yet have been derailed by reluctant men, insatiably demanding jobs and ever-climbing expectations of what it takes to be a “good” mother.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics predicts that 25% of Australian women currently in their reproductive years will never have children. Yet respected researcher and ethicists Leslie Cannold argues that women want to mother as much as they ever did. What has changed is their willingness to sacrifice everything they’ve built – everything they are – to do so. Drawing on demographic data. social research and insights gained from interviews with women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, Cannold shows that the easier society makes it for women to combine parenthood and paid work, the closer women get to having the number of children they want.

At the end of the 21st century, it is women’s freedom to mother that is most at risk. Guaranteed to reshape the current debate around sustained low fertility, What, no baby? is a must-red for everyone concerned about Australia’s fertility rate and for women who want to better understand – and to solve – the social problems keeping them from fulfilling lives in which children play a part.

Interested in Joining a “Childless by Circumstance” women’s group? Find out more here.

What Critics Are Saying About What, No Baby?

“This is easily the best book I have read about the dilemma facing young women in their choice – or lack thereof – today… If Cannold challenges the public agenda as effectively as she sets out to, Australian women in their 20s and 30s will breathe a sigh of relief.”

Julia Baird
Editor SMH
Author of Media Tarts

“Cannold’s philosophical perspective on this issue is unique.”

The Australian

“…after a spate of books and opinion pieces that have laid blame at the stilettoed feet of ‘selfish’ career women, it’s a relief to finally read a book that refuses to harangue young women.”

The Sydney Morning Herald

What Readers Are Saying About What, No Baby?

I have just read (rather, devoured) your book “What, No Baby?”. I am currently going through a break up with a truly wonderful man, because he is desperate to have children now, while I am 98% decided that I never want them. (In any case, I certainly don’t want them “in time” for him.) My indecision has come from a suspicion that there was information I wasn’t considering; as you said, the happy parents are deafeningly silent on the positives of having children.

Those parents who do try to convince me I should have children, or that I’ll regret it one day, say things like “who will look after you when you’re old” and “it’s all worth it when they say ‘I love you’”. Reason one is clearly ridiculous and invalid, while reason two reminds me of friends of mine who have tried to justify remaining in physically abusive relationships. Yet there didn’t seem to be any other reasons!

In contrast, your book opened my eyes to considerations that I have not encountered in FOUR YEARS of research through various avenues. I came to question how much of my “choice” is really valid, since in this case I want to be true to my heart, not to my head. I certainly bristle at the realisation that it is to a great extent society that is driving this very personal choice of mine.

Through your book, I’ve been able to more objectively take apart and reasses the various factors I’ve considered. Most importantly, I’ve been able to see through the peripherals to the core of it – the fact remains that I feel no strong desire for motherhood, even with all of those outside influences aside.

In truth I have always felt quite a strong – even physical – aversion to the thought of pregnancy, breast feeding, and especially to the corny gaga roses-and-cottonwool visions of motherhood as a necessary ingredient of true womanhood.

You have helped me to reconsider the validity and true motivations behind my “choice” and in so doing, you have guided me to becoming more sure of my decision, more aware of its repercussions, and better armed in the struggle to be respected by those who prefer to take other paths in life and feel that I should too. You’ve given me clarity in choosing how to proceed (or not to) in my current relationship and taken away some of the guilt I have felt in not being the “normal, proper and whole” woman that my partner wants me to be.

Finally, after wading through a great deal of militant, stupid and nasty childfree rhetoric which is met by equally militant, stupid and nasty pro-parenting rhetoric, you have been a refreshingly open minded and non-blaming voice amongst the muck of useless bitterness on both sides.

Thank you very much for your measured approach, your inspiring intelligence and your incredibly well balanced and empathic work.

Name withheld by request

“I have been deeply moved following reading your book, What, No Baby? as I very much relate to what you wrote … I shed tears it was so applicable to my situation … Thank you for your time, effort & energy to represent women such as myself who are childless by circumstance.”

Naomi Godslove

“I’ve just finished reading your book What, No Baby?. Excellent stuff, I agreed with almost all of it and it has given me huge food for thought. Congratulations.”

Marcus Holmes

“Thank you so much for What, No Baby?. It was great to read a balanced, evidence-based book that helped my husband and I to understand are own experiences while we try to seek a better work/life balance.”

Sue, parent of 2 preschoolers and part-time paediatrician

“It is such a relief that at last some one has spoken the truth about the matter.”

Lisbeth Jardine

“I would like to say thank you for your recent book What, No Baby? I am only sorry you didn’t write it 25 years ago. If you had, I might have done things differently.”

Kate Cosgrove

“Finally, you have put this issue (which has been brewing below the surface for years) on the social and political map! It has been enormously validating to read What, No Baby?.”

Anne de Silva

“I just read What, no baby after being recommended it by a friend and wanted you to know how much I enjoyed it – couldn’t put it down in fact! I could relate to it on so many levels and want to thank you for writing such an intelligent, yet accessible (and fun!) text.”

Arabella Teniswood-Harvey

“I just wanted to say I have really enjoyed your book, What, no baby?… I agree with you strongly that we need to change the dynamics of the workplace (P/T work options for both men and women, and more family-friendly practices etc.) and gender stereotypes for both men and women in order to address the issue of circumstantial childlessness….Your book is so valuable in that it contributes significantly with getting these issues on the table.”

Jane Hasler

Some Online Reviews of What, No Baby

Publication history

We're becoming a society of singles  The Advertiser
Childless by Circumstance  Childless by Marriage