Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Midwife's Story” as Want to Read:
A Midwife's Story
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Midwife's Story

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,722 Ratings  ·  146 Reviews
A gripping first-hand account of midwife Penny Armstrong’s journey from student midwife in Glasgow to running her own practice among the Amish in rural Pennsylvania, A Midwife’s Story never fails to enlighten, inform and surprise.

Going far beyond mere biography, Armstrong’s journey of self-discovery is ultimately very moving, and it is the honesty with which she describes
Paperback, 194 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Pinter & Martin Ltd (first published 1986)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Midwife's Story, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Midwife's Story

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Very disappointing.

This quote from page 35 sums up the author's attitude throughout the book:
[Discussing young inner-city mothers in Philadelphia:] "We stayed close to these girls,we avoided doping them up and wiring them up, not because they were less entitled to intervention, but because they were less informed consumers. If a well-educated middle-class woman came in to have natural childbirth and she decided halfway to throw in the rug, that was her business. She'd read the baby manuals....Bu
Jun 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I am a sucker for a good memoir, and pretty much anything centering around pregnancy, birth, and/or midwifery (I swear under other circumstances, I'd love to be a midwife; as it is, however, I'll have to settle for reading obsessively about it). This book did not disappoint on either count. It's a very down-to-earth, moving, sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking account of one midwife who caught babies in an Amish community for a number of years. Also paints a very real picture of what is wro ...more
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A book written by a midwife who actually has a story to tell instead of an ax to grind is a rare thing. A Midwife's Story is unusual in its unwillingness to put the Amish on a pedestal in order to appreciate them as people. Something that I haven't found much of in the "about the Amish" literature out there. The fact that it's through the relationship of midwife to client lends the story intimacy and insight into the women she helped that you'd normally never get from such a private people.
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Well, as you can see by the 5 stars, I REALLY enjoyed this book....I am all for hospitals/pain meds (although I delivered all my kids at Kaiser in the days before they popped an epidural in you as you walked in the door...most I had "natural"...but not by choice)...this memoir of a midwife's education and ultimate life delivering babies amongst the Amish was very absorbing. The book is a bit dated...published in 1986..but gives an insight into birthing attitudes from post WW2 (let the doctors do ...more
Nov 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
I have read this book a handful of times over the years and it has moved me every time. Written (with a collaborating author) by a woman who--initially very skeptical of homebirth--worked as a homebirth midwife among the Amish people for decades starting in the 1970s, it's a fascinating look at modern childbirth and at the Amish culture. Recommended for anyone who's interested in either. Her concluding words left me thinking for days about life and death and how our culture treats both.
Sharman Wilson
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-group-book
This book made me want to go back 36 years and have my babies over again with someone like Penny at my side. I did what we called natural childbirth then, with husbands in the labor and delivery rooms at the hospital, but I definitely needed a trained, nurturing person to help me with my long deliveries (especially the first). I actually was yelled at by a nurse to stop making so much noise. That was after 26 or so hours, and they had told me to resist the unbearable urge to push because it was ...more
Feb 08, 2015 rated it liked it
This book was interesting to any novice of midwifery and/or Amish life, but it lacked a certain depth. Although you're shown some real hardship (i.e. farm accidents and stillbirths), Armstrong very rarely allows her reader to see any misdeeds, either her own, her husband's, or her clients'. No doubt she is protective of all the people in the book, but this protectiveness allows the reader only a shallow, sunny portrayal of what I'm sure to be the real picture of life for Armstrong and her client ...more
Sarah Stanfill
Jan 19, 2015 rated it liked it
It was an ok read, not the best midwifery memoir I've read but it was interesting. There was something a little grating that I didn't like about the author which likely affects my overall rating as well. I did enjoy reading about this intimate side of the Amish and penny's profession from medical to home birth but there was still something off-putting I can't quite put my finger on.
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
I like this story of a midwife in the Amish community . I like that she found a profession that she loved and found a perfect place to practice, and did what it took to be accepted. Interesting to read of the Amish customs too
Lillian Abrams
Jul 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I wanted to read this book because I had been watching the PBS series, call a Midwife. This is the story of a midwife serving the Amish in Pennsylvania. It is warmly written with insights into the Amish way of life and what it means to have a profession that welcomes a new lives into the world.
Luann Habecker
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lydia Smith
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written by and for someone showing a great amount of dedication and love for their vocation. It is a fascinating history of mid-20th century maternity care with stories that are told with an inspirational blend of crystal honesty, brutal humour and pure love.
As well as being about midwifery, this book is equally about the Amish community, this book is particularly humane in its observations and allows the reader to see both the Amish, and our Western culture, from a new perspective.
Teresa Lavoie
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Too short a story

Loved this book! I did not want it to end and I have said that about very few books.The story lines and the character development was done well with great finesse and you wanted more.
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
While I am oh so grateful for epidurals and modern medicine, this book gives a thought-provoking perspective on birth and the strength of women through her tales of being a midwife for an Amish community.
Kim Woodard
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is one of my all-time favorites, and is the very book that inspired me to become a midwife among the Amish ♥
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read!!

Simply delightful!! As a fellow midwife it made me so wish I'd had the same opportunity as she did. How privileged she was.
Carolyn Brockway brown
Very interesting

Good book. I learned a lot about the Amish faith and people. I would recommend this book to friends. Well written.
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A modest, but telling and honest, glimpse into what makes us human. One woman's opportunity is another culture's shift in perspective.
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Highly interesting. Quite raw in parts, which made it a bit difficult for me to read, but that's purely personal.
Aug 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: true-story, 2013, memoir
This is the story of a young midwife's journey from a student in Glasgow to setting up her own clinic amongst the Amish in rural Pennsylvania.

I was dithering between giving this book three or four stars, but eventually decided on three because there was a lot that irritated me about it, despite the fact I enjoyed the read.

For a start, A Midwife's Story is rather preachy. Yes, it puts a good case forward for the more natural methods of childbirth over excessive medical intervention, but it felt a
Ginger Keener
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well written and interesting story. Highly recommend.
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"The miraculous story of life and birth, and the beauty of a vanishing tradition."

That pretty much sums it up.

A beautiful memoir of a midwife who goes to help the Amish birth their babies at home without all the technology our culture has grown to say is best or better. And she was not open to it at first but then realized it was where her heart was.

I have a special place in my heart for people like Penny who help women and families bring babies in the world and do not think of birth as a dise
Nov 29, 2013 rated it liked it
I adore midwives and the gentle work they do. I can say this because I chose to have my babies under the care of midwives. Reading this book opened up my eyes to the history and hardships midwives endured on their road to winning respect in and outside of the hospital setting. Also, I was appreciative of the rich Amish history Penny detailed and applaud her for continuing to provide care under primitive conditions that the Amish live in. Wow. She is a godsend to these women. These Amish women ar ...more
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
A surprisingly beautifully written book. There was a certain eloquence that I've not seen with a lot of other memoirs. I'm a sucker for memoirs and midwives, so this was kind of a shoe-in for me liking it. Though the chapters are mostly unconnected, they still flow pretty well.

I see the critiques that the author (well, Penny Armstrong the midwife - the book is actually written by Sheryl Feldman) is paternalistic, particularly in her comments about the teenage mothers from the inner city that she
Nov 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Penny Armstrong has captured well the diverse nature of childbirth today...a strong contrast between the Amish 'way' of bringing new life into this world and the English 'way' of over-intervention in our modern hospitals. I found it very interesting that the Amish face their labor and delivery as a normal, natural event...not much fuss, allowing their bodies to do what God made them to do. Of course there are times when deliveries go wrong and a mad dash to the hospital is necessary. But compari ...more
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
If you read any other review or synopsis, then you know this book is about a midwife that focuses a majority of her practice on the Amish people of Lancaster county in the 1980's. the book begins with her training in Scotland, through her hospital internship, and her eventual progression into a self lead home birth practitioner. Here's the funny thing - although I adore the philosophy of midwifery - I came away from this book with peaceful images of the Pennsylvania Dutch and not so much from th ...more
Jan 03, 2013 rated it liked it
This was ok. I enjoyed reading about the Amish people and their way of life and I always love reading about birth, but this book didn't really have the charm I hoped for.

For one, I didn't care for the author as a character. She seemed pretty self-important. She talks about her transformation from working as a nurse-midwife in a hospital - thinking that all births ought to take place in the hospital and that it was in fact barbaric to birth at home - to doing primarily home births in a rural set
Jun 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
It's a pretty quick and interesting read, so even I was able to complete it in a decent amount of time.

I'm glad that I don't live within driving distance of Amish country right now because I'd probably start stalking them or something after reading this book. I love learning about other cultures. A few years ago, while I was on a week-long training for work, I stayed in Lancaster and even went on a buggy tour of an Amish community, including an actual home. Penny's description of her life birth
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
What a really lovely memoir that will make you better for having read it! I started reading it because it was on a list set in Glasgow, where I would be traveling in a few days. In actuality, about a chapter of the book takes place in Glasgow; instead I became entirely endeared to the Amish as I read. I found myself thinking differently about technology and how my prioritization of time is reflective of my values in comparison to the shared Amish values Penny/Sheryl present. As a midwifery book, ...more
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great book! If you are interested in the Amish, midwifery or both, you will not be disappointed in this book, in my opinion. This book brought tears to my eyes at the end. Here's an excerpt:
"The Amish are born, do their work - as directed by their abilities - and die. Each one of them has value because each one has to be part of God's work. That is enough of an awesome thing. No one life counts more than another; each life is necessary to the whole. During his time on earth, each man is respons
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
500 Great Books B...: A Midwife's Story - Penny Armstrong, Sheryl Feldman 1 3 Jul 27, 2014 07:52PM  
  • Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart- A Midwife's Saga
  • Labor of Love: A Midwife's Memoir
  • Diary of a Midwife: The Power of Positive Childbearing
  • Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey
  • Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife
  • Heart & Hands: A Midwife's Guide to Pregnancy & Birth
  • Birth Matters:  A Midwife's Manifesta
  • Listen to Me Good: The Story of an Alabama Midwife (Women & Health C&S Perspective)
  • Catching Babies: A Midwife's Tale
  • Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care
  • Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First
  • Tales of a Midwife
  • The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth
  • Motherwit: An Alabama Midwife's Story
  • Homebirth: The Essential Guide to Giving Birth Outside of the Hospital
  • Your Best Birth: Know All Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices, and Take Back the Birth Experience
  • Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali
  • Birth and Breastfeeding: Rediscovering the Needs of Women During Pregnancy and Childbirth
Sheryl Feldman is a writer, teacher, and not-for-profit communications manager. She also co-founded Hedgebrook, a retreat for women writers and is the initiator of its community residency project Women Writers of the Arab World.

Apart from A Wise Birth and A Midwife's Story, she also wrote Bangkok Zigzag, a documentary on motorcycle taxi drivers in Bangkok. Passionate for international travel and c
More about Sheryl Feldman...

Nonfiction Deals

  • Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival
    $8.24 $1.99
  • A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf
    $27.00 $2.99
  • Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
    $8.99 $1.99
  • A Room of One's Own
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Life in a Medieval City
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green Berets Forged a New Afghanistan
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Too Close to Me: The Middle-Aged Consequences of Revealing A Child Called "It"
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Inside the Criminal Mind: Revised and Updated Edition
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
    $13.99 $2.99
  • How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Heart of Christianity
    $9.74 $1.99
  • Hidden Figures
    $4.09 $1.99
  • Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man
    $7.24 $1.99
  • K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Art of Living: The Classical Mannual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness
    $10.49 $1.99