Of all the books I’ve read in my life that inspired me, Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife is among the foremost. I read this when I was newly pregnant, suffering from morning sickness and burrowed into my couch. I was interested in natural childbirth, and had broached the topic with my OB-GYN, but wasn’t sold on the idea that I could do it.
I found this book by reading through the pamphlets and magazines my OB-GYN’s office sent me home with after my 8 week appointment. This book was on their recommended list of reads, so I grabbed it from the library and promptly fell in love.
It’s the memoir of a pioneer in modern midwifery. Peggy Vincent, the author, started out as an obstetrical nurse who jumped ship to midwifery because she disliked the medical profession’s widespread opinion that a normal birth is a posthumous diagnosis.
She believed, and still does, that all is normal until it’s not, and the fewer interventions the better (barring obvious complications, emergencies, breech babies, etc.).
She describes details about many of the births she was a part of, and reading all these stories about normal, everyday women who were able to bring their babies into the world naturally inspired the heck out of me. These women were just like me, many of them first-time moms, and they were all able to do it. This, of course, meant that I would be able to do it too.
The single-most encouraging thing I ever heard when I was pregnant, and I clung to this idea like a baby spider monkey, was something Peggy said. I can’t convey it word-for-word, because I don’t have the book with me, but I’ll paraphrase. She mused in her book,
“Of all the thousands of births I’ve been a part of, I’ve never had to take a mom to the hospital because of unmanageable pain.”
As a first-time mom with no idea what to expect from labor, this was immensely encouraging to me. It gave me confidence that I could do natural childbirth, and truly confidence is half of that particular battle. Knowing, in the midst of contractions, that you can do it, that your body is functioning perfectly, well, that’s the difference between being in labor and suffering. But that’s just my opinion.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Even if you don’t plan a natural childbirth, it’s just a lot of fun to read all these incredible birth stories and learn a little about the history of modern midwifery in the U.S.