How babies are made: cartoonist Fiona Katauskas explains the birds and the bees.


When Australian cartoonist Fiona Katauskas had to use a 40-year-old book to explain the facts of life to her son, she decided to update the record and write a modern book on where babies come from.

One of her key aims was to include recent developments in fertility and birth, such as the increasing prevalence of sperm donation, egg donation and IVF technology.

Being a cartoonist by trade, Katauskas opted for a collection of drawings for children, creating a picture book that gives kids a clear picture of the birds and the bees.

The result was The Amazing Story of How Babies are Made, a “light-hearted” guide to modern conception and birth.

how babies are made
Two parents and a baby: this cartoon gives children an introduction to premature babies. Image via Fiona Katauskas/ABC.

Speaking to ABC New Breakfast, Katauskas said she was truly amazed when she discovered how few books existed on the subject.

“When my oldest son asked how babies are made I just assumed that there would be tons of books on the subject,” she said.

“I tried to explain it and then thought I need some sort of pictorial guide and there were two books I could find at a big bookshop. One of them was super boring and dry and the other one was Where Did I Come From, from 1973.

“So I had the surreal experience of reading the same book to my son that my mother read to me. It’s one of the only books that we can get in Australia, and it’s still the best-selling book on the subject.”

how babies are made
Katauskas uses here experience as a cartoonist to explain things in a whimsical way. Image via Fiona Katauskas/ABC.

Katauskas was inspired to fill in the gaps in the story and produce a modern resource for parents and children that includes the developments of the past four decades.

“What was missing was a bit of updated honesty about how the whole thing works, just making it all a little bit more clearer than two people in a bed with a blanket over them,” she said.

“Since Where Did I Come From, we’ve also had a lot of assisted reproduction so it’s not just the story of intercourse.

“One in 26 children these days in Australia is born through IVF. There’s egg donation, there’s sperm donation, so the egg is still meeting the sperm but there are all these different ways of doing it.

“I wanted children who had been born that way to be included in this book as well.”

how babies are made
Katauskas uses cartoons to explore modern ways of conceiving, like egg donation. Image via Fiona Katauskas/ABC.

Katauskas used her children as a sounding board for ideas, calling them into her studio at home to look at pictures and give feedback.

So while the finished product came too late for the Katauskas brood, they were well-versed in how babies were made, and indeed how books on how babies are made are produced.

“I wanted to give it a light-hearted approach and make it funny as well, because a) you remember things easier when they’re funny and b) it’s an awkward things for parents to talk about,” she said.

how babies are made
IVF conception gets a mention in the book, as well as egg and sperm donation. Image via Fiona Katauskas/ABC.

“I did haul my children in and show them pictures to make sure they were funny at a kid’s level and not just an adult’s level.”

“They’re particularly fans of the clown’s pubes picture … which sounds a lot ruder than it actually is.”

Despite Katauskas’s reassurance, the ABC has chosen to leave that particular image for parents who buy the book.

how babies are made
This drawing shows what happens during a Caesarean birth. Image via Fiona Katauskas/ABC.

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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