I Don’t Know How to Give Birth! is a biographical manga about infertility, pregnancy, and childbirth and makes the subject humorous and relatable.

Manga artist and writer Ayami Kazama tells her personal story of what she experienced when she and her partner decided to have a baby. Kazama endured a variety of fertility treatments which are explained (in depth) before she was able to conceive. This subject can be traumatic for some women and the manga tends to gloss over any of the heavier emotions (since, in the end, they succeeded, it may seem less worrisome than to couples who are unable to have children).

This manga gives a very different cultural perspective of conception, prenatal care, delivery, breastfeeding, and postpartum care. It’s drawn in a very cutesy style, and, although to Western eyes, the characters are very childlike, they are all adults. 

The artwork isn’t the only jarring difference. I was surprised to learn that Kazama never went to a gynecologist before the age of 30 so all of the physical exams were embarrassing and awkward for her. I chalk it up to the cultural differences between reproductive healthcare in Japan and the US.

As much as is revealed (Sensitive nipples! Maternity underwear! Perineum!) this isn’t a manga version of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Rather, it’s a Japanese version of the popular pregnancy advice book, The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy, showing the kinds of things women endure while having a baby.

Childbirth may be a natural process but I Don’t Know How to Give Birth! shows us that instinct isn’t everything. There’s no innate female birth knowledge, leaving new mothers to navigate this incredibly difficult event as best they can. And the struggle is real. Kazama isn’t necessarily on her own. Her husband is very supportive. His perspective is provided via text pages between chapters.

This manga reads like a cultural experience, too. There are plenty of things other cultures do differently and childbirth is definitely one of them. It was what drew me to the title. It will probably have niche appeal but it’s certainly a solid addition to a graphic novel or manga collection—especially for a library looking to expand its nonfiction options.

I personally bought a copy as a gift for a friend who recently had a baby, because it is honestly hilarious, and I think Kazama gives representation to artists and working mothers and she has done it in a heartfelt, matter-of-fact style that makes some of the scarier aspects of childbirth a little less daunting.

There is no publisher’s age rating. There is some explicit discussion about the mechanics of childbirth, some jokes about pornography and mentions of sex. It’s obviously a subject that will appeal more to adults, but it’s fine for older teens, who could benefit from fact-filled, experienced-based stories of pregnancy and childbirth.

I Don’t Know How to Give Birth! 
By Ayami Kazama
ISBN: 9781975332884
Yen Press, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: none
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)
Creator Highlights: Japanese

  • Lisa P.

    | She/Her Library Associate in Youth Services


    Lisa is a library professional and part-time comic shop employee in Central Wisconsin.

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