Book Review: Giving Birth by Catherine Taylor

I found this book at a local sell-back store. I’ve found a number of books there marked down and just right for the library I’m building (most recently, Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May!!). I was not sure exactly what to expect from the book, as he subtitle on the front cover reads, “A Journey into the World of Mothers and Midwives“. Okay, I like the idea of a journey and any perspectives from the midwife’s point of view is one which I am always seeking.

I did not devour this book as quickly as I thought I would. First of all, the moment I began reading it I wanted to savor every word and en grain the knowledge into my brain. I was hooked. Taylor is not a midwife, not a doctor…just a mom, doula, journalist and incredible writer. Secondly, Christian Grey made his way into my Kindle and well…I devoured him instead. 😉

The very first quote I highlighted was in her forward called Beginnings.

When I arrived at my own childbearing years, I didn’t assume that I would or should have children, but I did have a sense of entitlement to a birth experience that would include the highest-quality medical care, respect for myself as an individual, and at least the potential for a transformative, spiritual experience. I had high expectations.

This quote rang in my ears as I pictured every pregnant mama out there and made a wish upon them that they too would have high expectations for their birth experience, no matter what that entailed. Taylor goes on to write in tandem as she interviews midwives, attends births, and gains her doula certification all while she herself is expecting her second child. There is a personal and professional balance between chapters that is very captivating and easy to identify with.

The medical model within the hospital and how midwives have to work within that model of rules and regs is one of the strongest pieces of this book. It identifies the struggles that each midwife feels and how their opinions are not always the same. Some midwives don’t mind the structure while others fight tooth and nail for their patient’s wishes. My eyes widened as I learned about a side of midwifery I had not thought about yet. This is a business, catching babies, and sometimes that business gets to make all the rules and you just have to follow them. After reading the details of how the hospital in which she was shadowing in ran their services and treated their midwives, I am certain that a hospital is not where I want to end up when the time comes for me to begin my career as a midwife. I want to work in a birth center.

Throughout the rest of the book, the reader is pulled into Taylor’s aches and pains of pregnancy, the rush of just barely making it to a birth, choosing the perfect midwife for her planned home birth, and witnessing a few scary moments with some patients. The writing is crisp and gripping. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in becoming a midwife. I believe that is her true audience, however I could see a mama just wanting to learn more about midwives would benefit from this as well.

But if I can midwife the family through the birth, then that gift is going to go on after labor as well. It’s sort of that ‘teach a man to fish’ thing. ~Joanne, CNM

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