Friday, October 26, 2007

Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent

I just finished reading this book and figured it was a good time to add a list of all the [pregnancy, labour] books I've read so far to the sidebar of the blog. I wish I knew how to make them appear with pretty pictures of the covers, but then again we're not supposed to be judging books by their covers, right? (Speaking of which, I'd also love to know how to make the NaBloPoMo badge actually link to the the NaBloPoMo page. Typically I would ask my husband to help me but he doesn't know about this blog and I'm not ready to tell him, so unlinked it remains).

Anyway, Peggy Vincent's book was amazing. I devoured it in less than a day - it was full of birth stories, which I find fascinating under any circumstance, but it was even more fascinating to read them from the midwife's point of view instead of the mother's. Naturally, Peggy has a more objective point of view, and is able to tell the stories in a way that gives the facts and context but somehow doesn't take away from the magic of birth - the moment when "one person becomes two". (That phrase brought me to tears the first time I read it; pregnancy hormones plus my upcoming 1-year wedding anniversary, when "two people became one".)

It was also enlightening to read about Peggy's journey to midwifery. The book opens with her as a student nurse, pleading with a labouring woman to lie down in the bed like the rules say. The woman wants to walk, sway, and dance instead to deal with the pains of labour. As young Peggy learns more about labouring women and the obstacles put in their way by obstetrical management, she decides to take a different route and turns to midwifery. The pivotal moment in the book, one that defines for her (and for me) the difference between midwifery care and obstetrical care, comes when an (older, male) doctor insists that "every birth is complicated until proven otherwise." Peggy, like most midwives - and, I would think, most educated mothers - believes the opposite: every birth is normal until proven otherwise. If you also believe, like I do, that looking for trouble is the best way to find it, the superiority of the midwifery mindset is crystal clear.

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