This Woman's Work

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"This Woman's Work"
Kate Bush - This Woman's Work.png
Single by Kate Bush
from the album The Sensual World
  • "Be Kind to My Mistakes"
  • "I'm Still Waiting"
Released20 November 1989 (1989-11-20)[1]
GenreArt pop
Songwriter(s)Kate Bush
Producer(s)Kate Bush
Kate Bush singles chronology
"The Sensual World"
"This Woman's Work"
"Love and Anger"
Music video
"This Woman's Work" on YouTube

"This Woman's Work" is a song written and performed by the British singer Kate Bush. It was originally featured on the soundtrack of the American film She's Having a Baby (1988). The song was released as the second single from her album The Sensual World in 1989 and peaked at 25 in the UK Singles Chart.[2]

Song information[edit]

The lyric of "This Woman's Work" is about being forced to confront an unexpected and frightening crisis during the normal event of childbirth. Written for the film She's Having a Baby,[3] director John Hughes used the song during the film's dramatic climax, when Jake (Kevin Bacon) learns that the lives of his wife, Kristy (Elizabeth McGovern), and their unborn child are in danger. As the song plays, a montage sequence of flashbacks is displayed, showing the couple in happier times, intercut with shots of him waiting for news of Kristy and their baby's condition. Bush wrote the song specifically for the sequence, writing from a man's (Jake's) viewpoint and matching the words to the visuals which had already been filmed.[4]

The version of the song that was featured on The Sensual World was re-edited from the original version featured on the film's soundtrack. The version released as a single was a third, slightly alternate mix.

"This Woman's Work" is one of several songs that were completely re-recorded on her 2011 album Director's Cut. The new version features a sparse performance of Bush singing and playing piano.


According to the sheet music published in by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the song is set in the time signature of common time, with a slow tempo of 66 beats per minute. It is written in the key of A-flat major with Bush's vocal range spanning from A3 to E5.[5]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "This Woman's Work", which was directed by Bush herself, starts with Bush, spotlighted in an otherwise black room, playing the introductory notes on a piano. In the next scene, a distraught man (played by Tim McInnerny) is pacing in the waiting room of a hospital. It is then revealed through flashbacks that his wife (played by Bush) has collapsed while they were having dinner. The story blurs into a continuous scene where he carries her to the car, a desperate race to the hospital, and his wife being wheeled away on a stretcher as he races in behind her. While waiting, the husband is wracked with fear and imagines his wife in happier times, kissing him in the rain, and even imagines the nurse coming to tell him she has died. The nurse then pulls him out of his reverie, as she reassuringly puts her hand on his shoulder and tells him about his wife's situation, though we cannot hear what she is saying. The final scene of the video returns to Bush as she silently covers the piano keyboard.

Use in media[edit]

Fifteen years after its original release, in 2005, the song peaked at number 3 in the UK Official Download Chart, due to it being featured in the Tamzin Outhwaite drama Walk Away and I Stumble. Also in 2005, the song featured in an advert for the NSPCC.[6] In 1997 the song was featured in Season 3, Episode 21 of the series "Party of Five" (Hitting Bottom) when Bailey asks Sarah for help after crashing his jeep and injuring her. Due to the song's inclusion in TV series Extras, the song entered the UK chart once again at number 121 in the week ending 5 January 2008, rising to 76 the following week. The song also appears in Season 6, Episode 12 of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” while Dee Reynolds (Kaitlin Olson) emerges after giving birth to a waiting room full of former romantic acquaintances. After it was performed by a contestant on Britain's Got Talent in April 2012, it re-charted at number 63 on the UK chart. The song features prominently in the first episode of the second season of The Handmaid's Tale when the lead character faces execution.[7] In May 2021, "This Woman's Work" was featured on the second episode of The Pact, a BBC1 drama series starring Julie Hesmondhalgh.[8][9] Following this, the track placed at 42 on the UK Official Download Chart.[10]

Track listing[edit]

A version of the B-side "Be Kind to My Mistakes" had previously been featured in the film Castaway in 1986. The other B-side, "I'm Still Waiting", features on the 12" and CD single versions only.

7" single (UK)

1."This Woman's Work"3:33
2."Be Kind to My Mistakes"3:03

12" and CD single (UK)

1."This Woman's Work (Single Mix)"3:33
2."Be Kind to My Mistakes"3:03
3."I'm Still Waiting"4:25


Chart performance[edit]

"This Woman's Work" was released on 20 November 1989 and reached a peak position of number 25 on the UK Singles Chart. In 2022, "This Woman's Work" was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for sales and streams in excess of 400,000 units.

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1989) Peak
UK Singles Chart[2] 25
Irish Singles Chart[11] 20
Chart (1990) Peak
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[12] 89
Chart (2005) Peak
UK Official Download Chart 3
Chart (2008) Peak
UK Singles Chart[13] 76
Chart (2012) Peak
UK Singles Chart[13] 63
Chart (2014) Peak
UK Singles Chart[13] 80
Chart (2021) Peak
UK Download Chart[10] 42
US Alternative Digital Song Sales[14] 19
Chart (2022) Peak
UK Download Chart[15] 27
UK Sales Chart[16] 28


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[17] Gold 400,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Maxwell's versions[edit]

"This Woman's Work"
Maxwell-This Woman's Work.jpg
Single by Maxwell
from the album MTV Unplugged and Now
Released15 January 2002
Songwriter(s)Kate Bush
  • MUSZE (Maxwell)
  • Hod David
Maxwell singles chronology
"This Woman's Work"
"Pretty Wings"
Music video
"This Woman's Work" on YouTube

In 1997, American R&B musician Maxwell covered the song for the release of his album MTV Unplugged. The artist later re-recorded the song in studio for his album Now (2001). This version of the song was released as the album's third single in 2001 and peaked in the US Billboard charts at number 58 (Billboard Hot 100 in 2002)[18] and number 16 (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs).[19] This version also appeared in the 2000 film Love & Basketball.

The song was featured on week 7 of So You Think You Can Dance (American season 5) (22 July 2009). It was used as the music for a contemporary dance choreographed by Tyce Diorio and performed by contestants Melissa Sandvig and Ade Obayomi.

Critical reception[edit]

Larry Flick from Billboard wrote, "Maxwell's "Unplugged" cover of the lilting Kate Bush chestnut is a perfect showcase for his voice—precisely because he only takes full advantage of its depth during a few impassioned moments, teasing us with his potential. The rest of the number is done in falsetto alongside minimalist treble pluckings, a style that expresses convincingly the longing implicit in the lyrics and the melody itself."[20]

Music video[edit]

The music video for Maxwell's cover of "This Woman's Work", which was directed by Sanji, begins with pictures of Maxwell and his lover in black-and-white photography. One picture reveals that his lover has died. In the next scene, Maxwell sees the ghost of his lover in the street and proceeding toward her, he falls through the street into a watery grave; seemingly drowning in his sorrow. Maxwell, then begins to swim across the street, pulling himself up by holding onto the sidewalk, he looks up to a cloud that reveals the face of his lover. The next scene shows Maxwell sitting in a diner, reminiscing about the loss of his love. Sitting next to Maxwell, are two women who—shown through flashbacks—have experienced heartache and loss of another kind. The music video ends with Maxwell walking outside of the diner, seemingly still underwater, as he sings "make it go away."


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2000–02) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[21] 58
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[22] 16
Chart (2012) Peak
UK Singles Chart 41
UK R&B Chart 14

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2002) Position
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[23] 72

Hope for Isla and Jude cover versions[edit]

"This Woman's Work"
Single by Hope for Isla and Jude
Released5 December 2014[24]
LabelSanfilippo Children's Foundation / Sony

In 2014 musicians Darren Hayes, Pete Murray, Marlisa Punzalan, Nathaniel and Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers collaborated to record "This Woman's Work" as Hope for Isla and Jude. The song was recorded to bring hope to Isla and Jude; two young Australian siblings suffering from the rare and fatal disease Sanfilippo Syndrome. Proceeds from the song's went to Sanfilippo Children's Foundation, a not-for-profit charity that dedicates their resources to progressing clinical research into the effective treatment of Mucopolysaccharidosis III, also known as MPSIII or Sanfilippo Syndrome.[25] The song peaked at number 79 on the ARIA Singles Chart


Chart (2014) Peak
Australia (ARIA Charts)[26] 79


  1. ^ "This Week: Releases Continued". Record Mirror. 18 November 1989. p. 29.
  2. ^ a b "The Official Charts Company - Kate Bush - This Woman's Work". Retrieved 15 February 2009.
  3. ^ "Kate Bush News & Information: Frequently Asked Questions". Archived from the original on 24 February 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2009.
  4. ^ Kate Bush News & Information: Frequently Asked Questions
  5. ^ "This Woman's Work: Digital Sheet music". Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
  6. ^ "Focus: Campaign of the week - Kate Bush song in NSPCC TV ads".
  7. ^ Chaney, Jen (26 April 2018). "The Unerring Power of 'This Woman's Work'". Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  8. ^ Fletcher, Alex (18 May 2021). "The Pact review: Murder, Kate Bush and pork scratchings – 8 burning questions and theories after episode 2". BT. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  9. ^ "The Pact". Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  10. ^ a b "Official Singles Downloads Chart Top 100: 21 May 2021 – 27 May 2021". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  11. ^ " search results". Retrieved 15 February 2009.
  12. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  13. ^ a b c "This Woman's Work Official Charts". Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  14. ^ "Kate Bush Chart History (Alternative Digital Song Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  15. ^ "Official Singles Downloads Chart Top 100 - 05 August 2022 - 11 August 2022". Official Charts. 5 August 2022. Retrieved 5 August 2022.
  16. ^ "Official Singles Sales Chart Top 100 - 05 August 2022 - 11 August 2022". Official Charts. 5 August 2022. Retrieved 5 August 2022.
  17. ^ "British single certifications – Kate Bush – This Woman's Work". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  18. ^ "The Billboard Hot 100 - Maxwell - This Woman's Work - Chart Listing For The Week Of jun 29 2002". Billboard. Retrieved 15 February 2009.
  19. ^ "The Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs - Maxwell - This Woman's Work - Chart Listing For The Week Of jul 06, 2002". Billboard. Retrieved 15 February 2009.
  20. ^ Flick, Larry (13 December 1997). "Reviews & Previews: Singles" (PDF). Billboard. p. 45. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  21. ^ "Maxwell Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  22. ^ "Maxwell Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  23. ^ "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs – Year-End 2002". Billboard. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  24. ^ "This Woman's Work (Hope for Isla and Jude)". Apple Music. 5 December 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  25. ^ "Australian Artists Unite to Bring Hope for Isla and Jude". Sony Music. 9 December 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  26. ^ Ryan, Gavin (13 December 2014). "ARIA Singles: Mark Ronson And Bruno Mars Are no. 1". Noise11. Retrieved 18 February 2020.