Midwife to Millions

For 28 years, Heidi Murkoff has coached women on what to expect from conception to childbirth

by Amanda Robb
heidi murkoff image
Photograph: Getty Images for Time Warner

It was the kind of e-mail most of us would delete as spam. But when Heidi Murkoff read the subject line “Cameron Diaz’s Breasts,” she opened it at once. Hollywood was in the midst of filming What to Expect When You’re Expecting, a feature (opening May 18) loosely based on her megaselling pregnancy bible, and “the director wanted to know how big Diaz could get in the first trimester,” Murkoff recalls. “I said she could become a B cup and aspire to a C. They made her a C right away.”

Murkoff, who was once an advertising ­copywriter, wishes every aspect of pregnancy could be so swiftly enhanced. But there is just no easy fix for swollen feet, indigestion and back pain. So since her book’s publication in 1984, Murkoff has labored to improve the health and happiness of pregnant women everywhere. But in the fourth edition of the Q&A tome she conceived during her first pregnancy, Murkoff says it is moms-to-be who have made the biggest upgrades in the expecting experience. Women today plan exactly what kind of birth they want—from free birthing  to epidurals. And many  just say no to polyester pup tent maternity wear.

“I’ve put the kibosh on many movie deals,” Murkoff says. She gave the green light to this one because the creative team understood that having a baby is the ultimate romcom. “There’s nothing more romantic than becoming a couple and starting a family,” Murkoff says. “And there is nothing as potentially comical as becoming parents.” 

Click here for a Q&A with Agapi Stassinopolou, author of 'Unbinding the Heart.'

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First published in the May 2012 issue

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