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Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife

4.34 of 5 stars 4.34  ·  rating details  ·  3,683 ratings  ·  536 reviews
She never tired of the miracle. Each time she knelt to "catch" another baby, beloved California mid-wife Peggy Vincent paid homage to the moment when pain bows to joy, one person becomes two, woman turns to goddess, and the world moves aside to make room for one more soul.
Trained as a nurse at Duke University in the early 1960s, Vincent begins working in the delivery roo
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Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published (first published March 26th 2002)
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Shirari Industries
Jul 21, 2011 Shirari Industries rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to Shirari by: Kate Finn
Okay, everyone, read this right now! Everyone! Can we pass it out in schools? And can we make every doctor in the country read it? That would help!

Peggy Vincent is amazing. Women are amazing. This book is evidence of that, as well as of how wrong-headed and competition-oriented and exploitative and ridiculous patriarchy can be when it tries to get in the way of women making babies. Story after story filled my eyes with tears, and my heart with joy and a deep feeling of proud sisterhood. But agai
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Jennifer
I don't remember where I heard about this book, but I put it on my paperbackswap wishlist and finally scored a copy. It spent a few weeks perched on the corner of our kitchen table, but once I finally picked it up, I couldn't put it down.

I inhaled this book over the course of two days in April, staying up late at night to read, every once in a while stopping to re-read stories aloud to Andrew. Absolutely fascinating, this is a memoir encompassing the legal, societal, and hospital politics of the
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Traci
I'm giving this three stars because I love the idea of this book, and I love the format of each birth having a little story...but by the end of this book I absolutely hated the author. Why this woman was a midwife is a total mystery to me. She doesn't have compassion for women in labor, doesn't seem to like women in labor (she complains repeatedly about the greeting she gets at various houses--like the time she had to stand out in the rain because no one came to the door--THERE IS A WOMAN IN LAB ...more
Guilie
What a magnificent read. Peggy held me enthralled from the first line, the first word. I read half the book in one sitting, didn't finish it sooner simply because life wouldn't get out of the way, but this is one book I'd happily have curled up on the sofa with and shut out the world. It's a celebration of life, like Anne Lamott says on the blurb, and a celebration too of womanhood, the feminine sisterhood. It's a memoir on a deeper side of women's fight for equality during the last half of the ...more
Abeer Hoque
My only issue with Baby Catcher was that it was too long and a bit rambling (and I could have done without the Bible quotes that preceded each section). Other than that, it's a lovely memoir of a midwife's life in the (sometimes supportive) (sometimes horrifyingly not) Bay Area.

I think it would be a great book for mothers to read, so that the black box of labour and birth can be demystified a bit (from the sheer number of diverse births she describes), and also presented in a light that isn't c
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Rebekah
In my quest for understanding childbirth better and gaining confidence towards it, I chose this book because it is so highly rated on Goodreads. In retrospect, I'm really surprised by that. The book is thought-provoking in some ways, but overall I didn't feel like I got anything out of it. Ultimately, I think I struggled because the author is very annoying, and since the book is really an autobiography, I just got sick of hearing all about her. I also felt that she distorted a lot of facts about ...more
Ginny
Wow what an addicting read! So sad it's over, wheres the sequel? Oh wait this isn't a series ;(

I laughed out loud, cried heavy tears and learned a ton. Peggy is a wonderful writer who just sucks you right in starting with her early days as a nurse in training and then through discovering her love for obstetrics and then her desire to go into midwifery to see women having the birth experience of their choosing. This is a great read for any expecting mother, woman who ever wants children or has a
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Natalie
I read the first half of this book in one day. It was fascinating to me to read a variety of birth stories while learning about the evolution of nursing/midwifery. I love reading birth stories because they are so varied, personal and interesting. Each time I read a labor story, I thought, "I don't ever want to have another baby. Those ladies are crazy. I can't believe I ever did that." Then, she'd talk about the moments after the baby was born and I'd think, "Man, I really want to have a baby."

I
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Wealhtheow
The story of one woman's time spent as a nurse and as a midwife. Vincent has an engaging, friendly voice; I felt like we were friends within a chapter. The ways of thinking about and serving pregnant women have changed a huge amount since the 1960s, and Vincent documents it all from the front-line. The stories she tells are moving and sometimes hilarious, and the history she documents is fascinating.
Helen
Wonderful revealing glimpse inside the life of a midwife. Each chapter a new tale, amusing, touching.
Norrisjackie
This book was recommended by a friend and I was a little timid in picking it up. Birth is something that so many women feel passionate about, and in the process it can be alienating. It's easy to fall into the pattern of judging women for their decisions instead of being supportive.

I loved the variety of her experiences. It's cheesy to say, but I really did cry and laugh. It almost was enough to motivate a home-birth next time around. I mean, someone making me soup and doing my laundry while I'
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Krista
LOVED it!!!

Emotional, moving, and REAL. I deeply appreciated sharing the thoughts, feelings, and birth stories that Ms. Vincent was able to recount. Much more profound than "I laughed, I cried," my summary reaction would be more like, "I burst out in joyful laughter, smiled wryly in sympathy, scowled in scorn and disappointment, and felt my heart rip open while its pieces leaked out in tears." The author has a real gift for bringing the reader not only into her mind and heart, but into the sacre
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Teresa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
jess
A quick and easy read, this book follows the several decades of the career of Peggy Vincent who was first a nurse, and then a licensed midwife in Northern California. She delivered over 2,000 babies, mostly in and around Berkeley. Sometimes being a midwife was wonderful, empowering, lucrative and exciting, and other times it was an uphill battle against The Man, Big Insurance and women's own fear. Almost every chapter is a stand-alone birth story, which is great since she has plenty of material ...more
Hannah
I loved this book! I was completely riveted, and moved by so many of the stories. I think it was incredibly well-written and portrayed many aspects of birth that are not often discussed in American society.
While I loved this book, I was also uncomfortable with occasional judgements I felt Vincent was making about her patients, and a few off color comments that she made. She referred to one baby (covered in tarry mecomium) as a tarbaby which made me a uncomfortable ... And she also seemed a litt
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Erica
A pregnant friend lent this to me. At 34 weeks, she listened to her heart and ditched her doctor, finding some midwives she liked much better, ladies who didn't scoff at reasonable questions about her plan. If you think hosptial deliveries (epidural, wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am) are a given, this book will totally change your perception. Vincent, who spent decades catching freshly-minted human beings as they tumbled into our world, describes highly personal birth experiences, ones that reach a leve ...more
Syd
I’m a little obsessed at the moment with reading birth stories. Honestly, I can’t get enough of them especially natural and home birth stories because I don’t know that many women personally who have given birth without medication. I am fascinated with the timeline, the pain, what happened, where it happened and how they handled it. Hospital and medicated birth stories are interesting too; I’m just really interested in the honest truth about the un-medicated pain all the way through and methods ...more
Anne
I have had two high-risk pregnancies. Before, during, and after, I never would have considered a home-birth and thought that anyone who did was crazy and really asking for trouble. But, reading this book definitely changed my mind. Sort of. I delivered my children at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, California - the same hospital where the author of this book worked before becoming a licensed midwife. At Alta Bates, women labor (and usually deliver) in individual rooms. Only when there is an iss ...more
Sarah Sammis
Near the middle of The Baby Catcher, Peggy Vincent describes two births that ended in C-section; one where the mother waited too long and one where the mother didn't. For the one that ended poorly (in extreme brain damage including blindess and deafness), the mother ignored all the advice she had been given even though she had a history of fetal distress deliveries resulting in C-section.

One detail that stood out for me in both births was the activity of the baby prior to birth. The children had
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kimberly
3.5 stars



this book started off fantastic and amazing, then i unfortunately realized she was your general sweetly racist grandma, then i started judging her for "not being nice enough", but ended with me still mostly rooting for her.

i really enjoyed all the midwifery stories, the struggle that midwives had (and still have) to overcome in the medical industry. i appreciated her candor, her use of swear words, her openness to alternate lifestyles and religions.

frustratingly, her descriptions of a
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Cheri
This book completely changed my perception about the birth process. I wasn't sure I could stomach this book - much less the pain of giving birth without an epidural. Yet somewhere within these funny and touching birth stories my framework shifted.

Peggy Vincent presents birth as a natural, mysterious process that is highly unique and beautiful - something to be experienced, not simply a means to an end. In her hands, birth becomes a ritual, a celebration of life.

Baby Catcher is a wonderful book f
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Sarah Jamison
Vincent is a warm, thoughtful writer and her stories of catching babies in Berkley, California are warm and thoughtful, too. With just a few mishaps to color what is an otherwise glowing manual of the successes of homebirth, Vincent comes across as more passionate than rational, but still pretty darn rational. I wasn't surprised or even very entertained by anything I read. It's a nice book with nice stories-- hippie enough to appeal to the woo crowd, but with enough references to nursing and eno ...more
Tamara
Thoroughly enticing...each chapter got better and better! As a Mom who gave birth five times during the 1970's, I could relate to the times she described. I experienced natural and medicated births, and never felt truly fulfilled with either; probably because of the lack of control (the doctors and nurses were always "in charge"). Having seen one of my daughters learn so much about childbirth, and choosing midwife care and home birth (even for her twins!), I am a believer in this option for thos ...more
Bethany
I loved this book!
Sozie
Rounding up from 2.5 (ala Amy Green style). I was really excited to read this book about midwifery, I love birth stories, talking about pregnancy and babies in general. This book is filled w/ those stories, which is why I gave it 3 stars. What I didn't like is the (surprise surprise) holier than thou attitude regarding home births/sans drugs births versus any other kind of birth. Superiority regarding whether you want to/can get through a birth without drugs or medical intervention or whatever i ...more
Mary Elizabeth Morton
Amazing! Wonderful! Entertaining! Heart-stopping! Emotional! These stories of Peggy's career in Midwifery are inspiring. Hearing about her experiences are why I totally want to work in the Midwifery or Labour & Delivery field some day. Peggy Vincent, you are my hero! I LOVED THIS BOOK!!
Danielle
i started this book last night at 1030 PM, put it down at 1 AM, started again tonight and finished it up an hour or so later. awesome read. there is some profanity that i didn't love, but it's real life. i recommend it to anyone as obsessed with birth stories as i am! ;)
Katie
Love, great stories. I teared up and laughed out loud. It's surprising midwifery isn't more popular / accepted. But at the same time I wonder if I'd be brave enough... To accept Peggy's mantra: all births are normal until proven otherwise. One can only hope and pray!
Kay
This is a fantastically interesting memoir of a woman who was a midwife in America when midwifery as a practice was still more or less verboten. Women were expected to be quiet and lay docile in their hospital beds. Vincent worked with women who wanted more than that. Her stories are really incredible, rich with detail.

To address people who are criticizing Vincent for kicking a goose: context matters! She had to step out on a woman who was being extraordinarily difficult (i.e. kept screaming for
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Megan
Despite a few negative reviews, and not being overly interested in reading about the profession of midwifery, I really wanted to read this book for the sake of the birth stories. I was definitely not disappointed. I only have a couple of months left of my pregnancy, but don't feel like I know that much about what's going to happen to me when I go into labour. Peggy Vincent's anecdotes are varied and interesting, and really opened my eyes to how very different labour and delivery can be from woma ...more
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“Childbirth is normal until proven otherwise.” 9 likes
“Women's bodies have a near perfect knowledge of childbirth; it's when their brains get involved that things can go wrong.” 2 likes
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