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About the Author

Educated at Cambridge University, Olivia Gordon is a journalist who has written for publications including the Guardian, Times, Telegraph, Red and Broadly.


Fascinating and moving. -- Adam Kay, Sunday Times bestselling author of This is Going to Hurt
Excellent . . . A serious journalistic investigation into foetal and neonatal medicine . . . reads like a thriller. -- The Times
Heartstopping -- Daily Mail
Part memoir, part analysis of neonatal and postnatal care. It's wonderful -- Clover Stroud, author of The Wild Other
Smart, sympathetic -- Sunday Times Style
Both a meticulously researched history of fetal medicine and a heartfelt account of parenting preterm babies -- Leah Hazard, author of Hard Pushed: A Midwife's Story
A touching, insightful, and engaging memoir. -- The Lancet
A wonderfully well written, brilliant discussion of the evolution of genetics, prenatal diagnosis, fetal and neonatal medicine, ethics and popular prejudice interwoven into a framework of [the author's] own very human story and the other mothers who tell of their experiences so graphically . . . moved me to tears. -- Professor Stuart Campbell, British fetal medicine pioneer
A book full of emotion and one that medical practitioners should read -- Jewish Chronicle
Pacy and accessible . . . It is the female experience of such invasive surgeries that remains the focus here; expectant mothers steeling themselves for "needles as long as rulers" and learning to navigate a "strange form of knowledge" about a child that has yet to enter the world. -- Prospect
'Best Science Books of 2019'

Genuinely brilliant...exceptionally powerful, deep and important. -- Professor Daniel M. Davis, author of The Beautiful Cure and The Compatibility Gene
Beautifully and clearly written and immensely touching. It moves effortlessly between personal stories of children and cutting edge scientific research...A great storyteller...[Gordon makes] us feel the great and risky adventure of surviving a difficult childhood and becoming a person: and the linked one of being a parent. Endlessly subtle...a wonderful, intelligent writer. -- Maggie Mary Gee OBE, author of The White Family
Exceptionally moving . . . a pleasure to read. -- Professor Dame Kay E Davies, Professor of Genetics, University of Oxford
Extraordinary . . . An absorbing and awe-inspiring account of the extraordinary foetal and neonatal medicine that is enabling a new generation of babies to thrive. -- Bookseller
This jaw-dropping story of medical discovery is interwoven with Gordon's own deeply moving story of her own experience as a new mother with a child in neonatal care. It conveys, brilliantly, the devastating emotional impact of being separated from one's child, and the shock of an unexpected diagnosis. -- Useful Reading, The Birth Trauma Association
We take pregnancy and childbirth for granted. Now please read The First Breath and be thankful for your children's lives. A compelling and uplifting book. -- Heart surgeon Professor Stephen Westaby, bestselling author of Fragile Lives and The Knife's Edge
A gem . . . So impressed by the tenderness and science. -- Dr Rana Awdish, author of In Shock

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