jess's Reviews > Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife

Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent
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Jan 04, 12

bookshelves: 2011, ladyish
Read in December, 2011

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 to draw on and the sheer diversity of birth stories is fascinating. Overall, I wouldn’t say that this is the best-written or most enthralling book ever, but it is fascinating, smart, and occasionally funny. The struggle of midwives and women to provide/experience birth without intervention is both exuberant and infuriating. It’s worth the effort of reading it.

Good things: I liked how much respect and appreciation Peggy had for the women in her care. She seemed to be genuinely in awe of some of them, and it’s nice to think that some medical providers really feel that way. The variety of birth experiences made for interesting reading, and Peggy hammered home the point that you absolutely cannot predict how a laboring woman will behave based on your experiences or perceptions of her before her labor starts.

Less good things: Because it is so many birth stories, the storytelling becomes repetitive at times. The stories would have benefited from sharper editing, as some bits reappear too many times. I was a little uncomfortable when the stories were negative, for example, a story about a woman who was mean to her husband during labor. Overall, though, negativity was the exception; the book is mostly a triumphant, glorious series of funny, happy, incredible birth stories.
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