Saturday, May 12, 2007

Baby Catcher

Earlier this week I finished reading another one of my birthday books, Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife. It was fast paced and engaging and overall I enjoyed it (really, I couldn't put it down!). I have a couple of criticisms though: the book seemed very self-centered. Each birth story was all about Peggy (the midwife and author) and what SHE was doing, thinking, feeling. I realize that she is the person writing the book and that her experiences are valuable, but there was an "I'm the real star of this show" vibe that I didn't care for. There was also an overall "drama" portrayal of births--lots of "dashing in and skidding into place to save the day" type of stories (makes for an exciting book, I guess!). Finally, my HUGE pet peeve. She exclusively refers catching babies as "deliveries"--the books probably has over 1000 uses of the term. "I delivered her" or "I delivered the placenta" or "one of the mothers I delivered" or "I performed the delivery" and so on and so on. It grated on my nerves so badly. I'm surprised she could have "missed" that the term "delivery" is so dismissive of the birthing woman. (The whole babies are born, pizzas are delivered thing--where has she been recently?) It is such a passive and disempowering term (and, it also turns the focus to the midwife instead of the woman herself). Where was the, "the woman gave birth to..." or "then she gently birthed the head" language, or, at the very least, "I CAUGHT her baby." No, it is delivery, delivery, delivery all the time. The roots of the phrase are even distasteful--the whole "delivering the woman from her biblically ordained suffering" thing. Even her concluding statement reads as follows: "Those who are supportive of midwives, home birth, and a woman's right to choose how, where, and by whom she will be delivered, are hopeful that this is the wave of the future." Women are active, powerful, birth givers! Women give Birth, Peggy, they are NOT delivered!

That said, the book was well written and fast paced and I'd still recommend it to others. The author was really committed to her profession and served a lot of women in a skillful way. Oh, one more criticism, there virtually no discussion of the author's own family and how she integrated her busy practice with her family. I was curious about it throughout the book.


Shauna said...

I'm sure you knew this already, but I knew by the title I wouldn't want to read it. Midwives can and do disempower women sometimes(like Dr's). I very much enjoy some of the midwives I've spoken with online regarding the unassisted birth movement. They say it has changed the way they feel and act towards birth and clients. There is a movement towards better things for birthing women even at home. I'd like to add that a good midwife would always encourage a women to catch her own baby.

Molly said...

Reading all the UC stuff I've read had a profound impact on how I look at midwifery care. I'm horrified by some of the birth stories I read that are supposedly "gentle births with midwives" that people feel happy with, but that I see as violating in various ways. UC information really had a potent impact on my views about birth--I had started exploring those views before I met you, but then you continued to open my eyes! Thanks! :-)