Sunday, October 3, 2010

"Diary of a Midwife"

I did finally finish reading Diary of a Midwife by Juliana van Olphen-Fehr. It took longer than I expected because, while the book was fairly interesting, it didn't grip me the way that Baby Catcher had. For me, it wasn't one of those books where I absolutely had to stay up all night to finish it because I couldn't put it down.

The book moved along slowly, a chronicle of how the author became a midwife and the various struggles that she had to deal with, both personally and politically. Her experiences with working in hospitals, both before she became a midwife and after, were painful to read. The level at which the hospital system dehumanized the women who had turned to it for care was disheartening, though not suprising in the least. Story after story of women's voices being ignored and their bodies not being respected illustrated why Juliana became a midwife. She realized that midwifery was the key to providing women with the care that they so badly needed.

Each birth story in her book is unique, each house, each family different. The beauty of midwifery and homebirth blossoms as the book goes on, showing the reader that there is, in fact, a different way. A better way, for women and their families.

At each turn, the system that Juliana has removed herself from, the system of medical childbirth, tries its best to stop her from providing the individualized care that is the trademark of a midwifery service. The Department of Health in her county asks her to do initial prenatal appointments for clients who will be delivering at the hospital, but refuses to allow midwifery patients to recieve care there. Doctor after doctor refuses to back up her mothers. Despite the small number of mothers who choose homebirth, what she offers is seen as a threat by "the establishment."

Even though the book moved along more slowly than other midwifery books that I've read, I would still recommend it for ladies who are interested in the birth field.

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