How Babies Get Made, 1970s-style!


eBaum’s World calls it: The Most Traumatizing Kids Book Ever.

Which I think is really misleading.


It should be called: The Most Awesomest Kids Book Ever! 

For starters, my own 5th-grade Sex Ed instruction used the original, 1972 edition of The Joy of Sex as our in-class reading activity. So, yknow…that sets the bar pretty high for any other would-be contenders to the title of “Most Traumatizing-to-Children Graphic Illustrations of Sexual Intercourse EVER.”

And I took this class in church, y’all.

As an adult, I find it MUCH EASIER to appreciate the beauty -- and radicalness -- of Chris Foss' illustrations.
As an adult, I find it MUCH EASIER to appreciate the beauty — and radicalness — of Chris Foss’ illustrations.

Granted, it was a Unitarian church. But still.


Compared to that marvel of art history, Per Holm Knudsen’s 1975 How a Baby Is Made is downright cuddly! Like two muppets kissing!

While getting their freak on!

Granted, the manly hirsute factor has a familiar feel... (via)
I feel like I’ve seen that manly hirsute factor somewhere before… (All images via.)

Now, onto a few other observations regarding Knudsen’s masterpiece… 

“Sometimes when a mother feels especially loving, her abdomen becomes transparent.”


For nine months.


A friend^ asks what would seem to be a reasonable question: “Why don’t the mommy and daddy wear clothes between conception and labor?”

Because the ’70s, dear.

Do try to keep up.

(Personally, I love how even in utero, you can see Baby’s got her daddy’s eyes. Awww….)

Importantly, NO CLOTHES did not mean NO STYLE.

The way the laboring mother’s pigtails stay perfectly be-ribboned and in line with her knees from first contraction to delivery?

That is some tight hair game.


“But why is the doctor holding a pick axe?”—same friend.

Now that is what we in the biz call, A Good Question™.

I got nuthin’.

Though I do love how determined that kid is: pulling himself out with his own “hey, I got arms! Lemme use ’em!” enthusiasm.

Major props, Baby.


I am, however, slightly concerned about where did your mother’s arms go.

Here endeth today’s lesson!

Got any horror- or humor-filled Sex Ed stories of your own? Please share in the comments! 

^ I am often asked, “Where do you you find this stuff??” when I share some of my wackier discoveries. [Though, to be honest, I find this particular book equal parts wacky and wonderful.]

Once again, credit goes to one of my OB/GYN BFFs!

Both of whom are themselves quite wacky and wonderful. Remind me to tell you sometime about the day in college one of them invented the Tamponica [patent-pending] through the happy discovery that, when blowing through a tampon applicator tube — the way one does — a skilled musician can sometimes play lovely, lovely tunes.

Well, recognizable tunes, at least.

[Big smooches, D and K! And lots of love!] 

18 thoughts on “How Babies Get Made, 1970s-style!

  1. LOL. I enjoyed this post a lot. Sex ed has its humorous points for sure. A friend showed me a book of real people having sex- I think it was the Dutch edition of the Kama Sutra, but can’t be sure. I didn’t believe her. I even warned my parents to watch out for some book making up stories about how babies are made. I was worried they would get curious and try it and someone might get hurt. Another fun book- “Where did I come from?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The funniest thing to me — BUT ONLY IN RETROSPECT! (it felt quite serious at the time) — about reading “The Joy of Sex” in a room with my 10- and 11-yo peers was all the unspoken negotiation about how such reading should take place. There were only a few copies of the book (not nearly enough to go around), so we decided to read it in gender-segregated groups.

      The boys all jammed around the kid holding the book: pointing and laughing to one another, elbowing each other in the ribs, jockeying for the best view of the pages.

      Whereas in the girls group, we all sat silently in a big circle, with everybody looking down at her own hands. Whoever had the book would read a few pages in a state of “omg I’m horrified and fascinated all at the same time” — before remembering, with a shock, that all the other girls were still there waiting for a turn. (“Everybody knows how long I’ve been looking!!”) At which point, she would slam the book shut and pass it quickly to her left.

      Also, we were far too young to realize what a funny book “J of S” is! I remember reading the section on “uses of ice in love-making” and being extremely puzzled why the authors reminded readers NOT to use dry ice, when applying to a lover’s back just prior to orgasm — and without warning! All I could thing was how silly that advice was: “how could you keep the ice a secret, if you had that fog coming off it the whole time??”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I believe the doctor is not holding a pick ax but a Pinard Horn, a tool that midwives still use to listen to fetal heart tones. At least I am going to believe that’s what he’s holding.


  3. Whoa! You sure had a different upbringing than me!

    My messages:
    Mom: silence
    Dad: “You’re not dating yet? That’s good it will help you stay pure.”
    Schoolmates: slut-shaming (sometimes of me, even though I’d never had sex)
    Church: “See this beautiful rose? Now imagine cars running over it. Not beautiful anymore, Is it?” And by the way, it’s better to die than to “let yourself” get raped.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well — not to suggest that I didn’t get plenty of the silence and ‘JUST SAY NO NO NO NO’-style sex education, too! — but I do think the UUs have always had a great approach to sexuality education for young people. Very much “you *need* to know this, we *want* you to know this, and we want to make sure you learn the facts in a safe and supportive way.”

      Thankfully, the educational materials available have improved since then, though!


  4. I went to a class at my church, too. We saw a filmstrip, if I remember. Diagrams. Nothing like this.

    I also don’t remember having a baby being like this, either. But…it was 27 years ago. Maybe it was?


    1. Oh, we got filmstrips too! M w/ W sex, W w/ W sex, M w/ M sex, masturbation for girls and for boys — all explicit enough that during the summer, a few seventh grade boys broke into storage and “borrowed” a few of the canisters.

      Not sure where they got a magnifying glass adequate to see anything, though? But 12yo’s are resourceful. I’m sure they figured something out.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Oof. Watching with mothers is THE WORST.

          Even worse than the time in high school when some kid got injured out on the football field — and while the nurse stepped out to attend to him, his coach had to take over her “special assembly” (ie, a bunch of ninth-grade girls supposedly learning about breast self-exams). Though, to be fair, in that case it was probably EXCEEDINGLY embarrassing for the coach! We girls were just having fun tossing the rubbery boobs back and forth, thrilled to not have to keep feeling them up for lumps.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Your school was progressive. No way would we have ever had any assemblies on any such things done by anyone, nurse, coach, janitor, passerby. I don’t think the words were allowed to be spoken inside the building.


        3. So sad, isn’t it?? When even suction-cupping a fake jelly boob to a desktop and checking if your school table has cancer seems like a shockingly “progressive” sexual act.

          By the time I was teaching H.S. in Texas (10 years later), I’m not sure even that would still have been done — by then, the teacher whose job was teaching the teen mothers (and home-schooling them, while they were still pregnant) was not allowed to use even the word “abstinence,” because telling kids they *could* abstain apparently would alert them to the fact that they could choose *not* to abstain, as well. Again — these young women HAD BABIES. I think the “y’mean I can decide to have sex if I want??” train had long since left the station. Appalling.

          Liked by 1 person

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