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Labor of Love: A Midwife's Memoir

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3.33  ·  Rating Details ·  568 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
Single mom, jazz singer, salsa dancer, traveler, and midwife to more than 700 babies, Cara Muhlhahn holds nothing back--in her life or in this memoir.As a teenager, Cara's family home burnt to the ground. That tragedy led her on a journey that would span a variety of countries and cultures. While she was in Morocco, a woman suffered from a fatal injury. Grieving the unnece ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published April 29th 2009 by Kaplan (first published December 30th 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Alise
Mar 17, 2010 Alise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit up front that my "gold standard" midwife memoir will always be Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent. That book is one of my all-time favorites. And this one fell well short of that, IMO. Cara was a part of the film "The Business of Being Born" and I really enjoyed that movie and her role therein. And her book has moments of interest. But honestly, it felt more like an average writer's blog compiled into a book. I have absolutely no doubt that she has an amazing practice as a homebirth midwif ...more
Talitha
Jul 27, 2010 Talitha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was looking forward to reading this book after being introduced to Cara Muhlhahn in the documentary, The Business of Being Born. Cara's personality comes across as quite dynamic in the documentary and I figured her book would be as interesting as the person. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The writing manages to be both pedestrian and vain. Cara clearly thinks very highly of herself but doesn't give the reader any reason to do likewise. Much of the book is related through dry, self-congra ...more
Erika Nerdypants
I'm giving this 2 stars, because for me it was just okay. I was expecting more birth stories, but instead there was a lot of personal details on Cara Muhlhahn. She does describe the politically hostile climate that midwifery finds itself in (still) in the medical community, and I hope by bringing attention to the fact that midwives are competent caregivers who are more than qualified to attend birthing women, she will be able to at least be able to shift public opinion.
Bonnie
Jun 04, 2010 Bonnie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most will recall Cara Muhlhahn from her portrayal in the documentary "The Business of Being Born". I loved her in it and was excited to read her memoir. She seems to be very down-to-earth yet intense and type-A, service to others oriented, energetic with a big heart. She is all those things in the movie, but in the book she gives a very open look into her past, her life, and her tender soul. It's not a book about how to have your best birth or care for your baby, though I believe she coathored o ...more
Katie
Oct 30, 2011 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book came to me somewhat fortuitously, as I got it when I was an intern for Ms years ago, and didn't connect it with the scratchy-voiced, frazzled, and irresistible midwife from "The Business of Being Born" until just last year. The writing is underwhelming, but I don't judge Muhlhahn too harshly; she delivers babies for a living, and she does that really, really well. So an awkward turn-of-phrase and disorganized order to the book were maybe to be expected.
Muhlhahn does tell story after s
...more
Megan Palasik
I got this book for free on my Kindle. I have always had an interest in midwifery, but when I read negative reviews for this book I was hesitant to try it.

I enjoyed this book. Yes, Muhlhahn comes off a bit full of herself and likes to talk about how wonderful she is as a midwife. However, if you can look past/ignore her self-glorification, I think it's a really interesting book.

I had never read anything about midwifery before, but since I do not have children of my own (yet) I think using a mid
...more
Julie
I don't remember where I first heard about this book. Cara Muhlhahn was the midwife featured in the documentary The Business of Being Born. She's a nurse-midwife who specializes in home births. (Disclaimer: No, I'm not pregnant. Thanks for asking.) I don't usually read biographies, but this one was compelling. Muhlhahn discusses her early life and how it developed into a midwifery career. She talks about the joys and triumphs, but she doesn't shy away from the failures, either. In one particular ...more
Meg Marie
While I am not the homebirth-type myself, I admire women who undertake that route, and appreciate people like Cara Muhlhahn, who help them in their journey.

That said, this book was a fast read, but not a terribly enjoyable one. The tone bothered me, though it was not as preachy as I expected - Mulhahn does not expect or want every woman in the US to start giving birth at home, unless it's something they truly believe in, she just wishes medicine itself took a less clinical approach to the act of
...more
A.
Jan 10, 2015 A. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
I read this partly because I'd been interested in having a homebirth, but all the midwives in my town were booked solid so I ended up at the hospital instead, which was, for the most part, a positive experience.

This was not the best-written memoir I have ever read--it was interesting but she makes a lot of blanket statements about the medical profession and her bit about parking tickets and wanting special plates kind of just irritated me. Some of the statements about delivering in a hospital fe
...more
Melody
Apr 27, 2009 Melody rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not what I was expecting. It struck me as a very superficial memoir, wherein the author flitted from midwifery process to how she got pregnant to how God or the universe or something thinks she's plenty special but never examined anything in much depth. I wasn't knocked out by the writing style, and there were more than several editing fumbles and typos. I focus on flaws like my dog focuses on his frisbee, to the detriment of everything in the area. The book seems to be sort of a companion piece ...more
Rachael Hope
Cara Muhlhahn is an awesome woman, a homebirth midwife who has been working in New York City for over 30 years. Her story is great, but her book was not as great. There were many facts and opinions about the medical community, how she had experienced it and statistics that just seemed to be repeated over and over. I really wanted more FEELING and less of the narrative, which got a little hard to get through at times because it seemed disconnected from the passion that drives her to do her work. ...more
LM
Jun 21, 2012 LM rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a free Kindle book that a friend told me about. Cara was serving as back up to my midwife during my 8th month. This started out feeling very arrogant and
I almost wanted to compare her memoir to Paris Hilton's because there was something
similar in their written voices (or ghost written as the case might be). However I stuck
with it and I enjoyed her story more as it went along. I felt like I got to know her better
and like her better which was the point.
Raven
May 19, 2009 Raven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compelling and interesting read about the life of a modern homebirth midwife. She is a great storyteller and I enjoyed reading about how she came to midwifery and her personal vision for the care of mother and baby. And she wasn't afraid to talk about the difficult things.
Lisa West
Jul 19, 2012 Lisa West rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
High fives to herself. Don't bother...
Davida
May 23, 2010 Davida rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pregnancy
I don't think I would recommend this book, at least not the first half. It's another one of those memoirs that badly needs to be edited. The writing is not great but worse than that, Muhlhahn just goes on and on about how gifted and wonderful she is. BORING! She's not only the best nursing student, she's also a talented singer. She's not only inclined to be a hard-worker, she also blah blah blah. All of that could have been left out.

The second half is much better, with details of her own home bi
...more
David
Jun 24, 2009 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Engaging discussion of her career as a solo-practice (after a few years getting started working in hospital and then free-standing birth center) nurse-midwife helping families with at-home births. Poignant discussion of the one infant death she experienced.

we didn't do it at home, but having had one child with a nurse-midwife at birth center and one with physician in hospital, I could appreciate her arguments for the comparative benefits of employing a midwife for the birth. I suppose if you wer
...more
Gina
As a homebirth midwife I wanted to like this book more. I agree with many of the other reviewers...her tone was arrogant at times, but I do believe she really appreciates birth and works hard to preserve its sanctity. I thought it could have used better editing, not only did I find typos, but I also felt the flow was distracting. I agree that more birth stories would have been beneficial.

She also had one bit of inaccurate information...antihistimines are not implicated in the reduction of milk s
...more
Rachel
Jun 11, 2014 Rachel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, if you're looking for a heartwarming collection of birth stories in this book, as I was, you will not find them. This is, indeed, a memoir, but I think it's fairly inaccurate to have called it a "midwife's" memoir. Cara (whose practice is questionable due to a lawsuit or two) is a midwife, but this is a story of her unusually charmed life and spends a great deal of time detailing her privileged experiences. By comparison, she devotes very few pages to actually being a midwife and there are ...more
Merrow
Not the best memoir I've read, but it's a nice snapshot into the life of a busy, NYC homebirth midwife. There's a lot of "look how awesome I am!" but overall, the Muhlhahn's passion and care for her mamas/babies shines through. Often the home/hospital birth camps are completely polarized to one another, characterizing each other as the spawn of satan. I really liked that while Muhlhahn consistently points out the drawbacks of CYA (cover your ass) medicine, she doesn't necessarily demonize it.

Thi
...more
Jael
May 17, 2011 Jael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, babies, memoirs
Ih. This was okay. The first half was really not much to do with midwifery at all. When she finally did get to talking about her work it was more interesting. Her attitude comes off as being really rather arrogant and proud of how wonderful she is, which was annoying, but she did have interesting things to say about her work and the current condition of industrialised maternity care. I thought it was ridiculous that she promoted the use of castor oil, though, and subscribed to the notion that if ...more
Kristine
Dec 01, 2009 Kristine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book just reiterates the idea that not everyone should be a writer. Muhlhahn has a story to tell, but just doesn't have the writing ability to tell it in an interesting way. Her writing feels juvenile, is repetitive, and she wants to portray herself in a very specific way, which annoyed me as a reader. I finished the book, only because being in the last trimester of my pregnancy, I am hungry for any birth stories and she waits until the end to really tell any good ones, even though the titl ...more
Anastasia
Of course I enjoyed this memoir written by a homebirth midwife. It was pretty well-written and engaging. But it was also a little self-aggrandizing. I don't think anyone would call Cara Muhlhahn a humble person. There are some typos in the book, one of which is pretty significant: saying that at age 40 the chance of having a baby born with Down's Syndrome is one in one (i.e., 100%!). Actually, it's 1 in 100 (I checked). It's definitely worth a read, but for those more interested in learning abou ...more
Rori
Feb 17, 2009 Rori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was excited to find this book in the library after watching The Business of Being Born and seeing the author in the documentary. I was impressed with how she came across and expected her book to be a fun and informative read. The book fell a bit flat, however. I enjoyed the stories she told, but it seemed to meander all over the place reading more like a stream of consciousness. I felt like she simply scratched the surface of her life as a midwife, the births she attended, etc. It was a very q ...more
Kim
Apr 27, 2009 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author is the NYC homebirth midwife profiled in the film The Business of Being Born, which I've been writing about for work, so I felt I had to read this. I liked the birth stories (of course) best (except for a very sad one which perhaps was not good to read while 8 months pregnant).

Didn't love the "story of her life" stuff at the beginning, and there's one story where she takes a cab b/c her car is dead and then later talks about piling ppl into her car [inaccuracies like that drive me ba
...more
Kaitlin
Apr 29, 2014 Kaitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
More like 3.5 stars, though.

I enjoyed her story, more towards the end though. She was very repetitive in a lot of aspects of the book. It was annoying but I got over it as soon as it passed.

Learning about her life before becoming a midwife was interesting but I was more interested in her work of actually being a midwife. So I enjoyed the last half the most.

But a great read. I love reading empowering stories of homebirth, as that's what I would have to have whenever we have another child. :)
Kayla
Apr 28, 2009 Kayla rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was quite awful. I understand that she is a wonderful mid-wife, but she is a terrible writer. This book isn't so much a memoir of a midwife (which I assume would be filled with birth stories) but more like the ramblings of a women who eventually ended up a midwife, after joining the Moonies cult, having an abortion, forcing her 28 year old boyfriend to impregnant her when she was 37 and oh yeah, let me advertize my practice and push the documentry I was featured in.

The only birth stor
...more
Rebecca
Jul 27, 2009 Rebecca rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting characters have interesting stories. But maybe-- they should hire ghost writers to tell their stories for them. Cara Muhlhahn is a homebirth midwife in New York-- what a life! She's smart, highly-trained, humble, adventurous, committed.

But, she's not a writer. The book reads like a series of jumbled conversations-- the pointless mixed with the profound.

The only thing I came away with was some curiosity about the film, "The Business of Being Born," that spotlights Cara's practice.
Kristianne
Maybe because I spent time in Eugene, Oregon and midwifery was standard op for a lot of people I knew, but this book didn't offer me anything new. Maybe it had more to do with the fact that it was more about the author's life and hardships than about midwifery. I would rather know about the practice of catching babies and what midwifes and mothers think about birthing practices than about how hard it is to park in New York City.
I think this would be a fine primer to introduce someone to the idea
...more
Suzanne
Jul 31, 2009 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book about a homebirth certified nurse midwife in NYC, who is featured in the Discovery Channel documentary "The Business of Being Born. Having always wanted to have my babies at home, I was very interested in the differences described between that and a hospital birth. I wish I had listened to my own desires, rather than those of my husband, my doctors and the insurance company. I will recommend this book to my daughters when they have children.
Michelle
I read about this book partly because my cousin chose to have home births with her 2 daughters, and I never really understood why. This book helps enlighten those of us who have been brought up to understand the hospital as the sole method of care. While I don't think this book convinced me that that would be my choice for childbirth, it did give me some insight as the benefits and decisions mothers make in choosing to have a baby at home.
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