As regular readers of this blog know, I’m currently expecting my second child, a girl. Monkey should join my family at the end of February or maybe early March. I’m quite excited to meet my little girl. What better way to get in a baby mood by start reading some books about babies!
I gave birth to my son Raisin without any drug intervention and with a midwife when I was living in Australia. While I don’t have the midwife option in Illinois (silly laws and insurance issues) and I plan on delivering with a doctor (that I trust) in a hospital, I still love the stories of stress-free natural deliveries, and I’m hoping this baby’s arrival will be as good an experience as (or better than) my son’s arrival.
Baby Cather by Peggy Vincent (published 2004) is a memoir of a Certified Nurse Midwife who spent many years delivering babies in hospitals and at women’s homes as a private practitioner. With frankness about her ignorance of the process of delivery in the beginning, personal stories from her own three pregnancies, and numerous stories about home births gone right and a few gone wrong, I loved it.
I think I most loved the concept that Peggy developed relationships with the people she delivered. She knew their other children, their pets (I loved the story of the cat who attacked her during the delivery of one baby), and their lives. Also, I loved how low key it seemed for her to help with a birth. Her job was about coaching and supporting the women in labor, not about monitoring (although she did of course do that). I didn’t know the midwife who delivered my son, but she still was a calming influence on me. I sincerely hope there is a good delivery nurse on staff when I go in for Monkey’s delivery!
I also appreciated the discussion of midwifery in California. Although Peggy practiced during the “golden years” of the late 1970s until the early 1990s, it was fascinating to hear the doctors react so negatively to the home birth idea and to the delegation of delivery to a midwife. One doctor even told Peggy that labor was never considered “normal” until it was over. There were some horror stories (at least what I’d consider a birth horror story) in which the doctor didn’t want the laboring woman delivering during the night so he broke he water and gave her pitocin to speed her up, when she had wanted a completely natural birth! And of course, because complications always are possible, Peggy also discusses some other traumatic births when things didn’t go well and she had to hurry to the hospital at the last minute.
For the first time mom, all the discussion about the pain of childbirth may be a bit overwhelming. I always expected I’d get drugs with my first birth, myself, so I don’t know how I would have reacted to this memoir of baby delivery stories. But personally, because I know I can deliver naturally (because I did it once already!), reading Peggy Vincent’s memoir of being a midwife encouraged me. It reminded me of how this process of giving birth is natural. My body knows what to do; I just have to bear with it during the unpleasant moments.
For other natural birth advocates, I wanted to mention I also enjoyed watching The Business of Being Born. That has a political agenda to some extent (portraying hospitals and doctors as the “bad guys” at some points). But it also portrayed the positive vibes and stress-free aspects of some home births (and it did show one home birth with a complication that required a hospital run, so that gave it some balance). I liked watching the miracle of birth in that movie too, much as I loved reading Peggy’s personal stories of catching more than 2,500 babies!
(P.S. Do you have any encouraging natural birth books, or books about adorable newborns in general, that you can recommend to me? I’m still in the baby mood, of course.)