The First Breath

A story of the cutting-edge medicine saving the lives of a generation of babies.
A story about the love and fear every parent feels.
A story of the heroic lengths doctors, mothers and sick babies go to, all before the first breath.



The First Breath is a book about motherhood and medicine.

I decided to find out how, exactly, modern science saved my son’s life. Crossing medical memoir with popular science, The First Breath is an investigation into the pioneering fetal and neonatal care bringing a new generation into the world, who would not have lived if they had been born only a few decades ago. 

I explore the female experience of medicine and detail the relationship mothers develop with doctors who hold not only life and death in their hands, but also the very possibility of birth.

From the dawn of fetal medicine to neonatal surgery and the exploding field of perinatal genetics, The First Breath tells of fear, bravery and love. I take the reader behind the closed doors of the fetal and neonatal intensive care units, resuscitation rooms and operating theatres at some of the world’s leading children’s hospitals, unveiling the untold story of how doctors save the sickest babies.


The First Breath was published in hardback the UK on 13 June 2019 by Bluebird, an imprint of Pan Macmillan. The paperback edition was published in the UK on 11 June 2020. 

Please contact Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown or Amy Canavan at Bluebird with any enquiries.