A midwife recounts some of the thousands of births she has witnessed and assisted in this series of sometimes harrowing, often exhilarating, and always powerful vignettes. Vincent's writing, as well as her continued sense of awe, pulls readers right into the story, allowing them to experience the miracle of childbirth along with her. In addition to her tales from the front lines of the midwifery movement, Vincent's journey through the medical profession -- first as a delivery room nurse, then as a midwife -- provides a unique perspective on the course of women's liberation over the past several decades. Baby Catcher recalls a time when educated women could only aspire to become nurses, secretaries, or teachers; when welfare mothers were routinely given tubal ligations while still in a postdelivery haze; when fathers were not allowed in the delivery room and mothers were so heavily sedated they could barely be considered as being present for the births of their children. In doing so, the book poignantly captures the central idea of the alternative birthing movement: that women should reclaim the messy, painful, but altogether wondrous experience of giving birth.
It was in nursing school at Duke in the 1960s that Vincent found her calling: delivering or "catching" babies. She moved to California and became a midwife, specializing in home births; over the course of 40 years, she brought some 2,000 babies into the world. There's a predictable plot structure to most of the stories she recounts: the initial meetings with the pregnant woman, the last-minute phone call once labor speeds up, the coping with contractions, the appearance of the baby's head, the wet newborn, the oven-warmed blankets, the celebratory meal afterwards. Despite the repetition, Vincent's account is a page-turner. It's not just the risk that something might go wrong (meaning a nail-biting trip to the hospital for an emergency cesarean), and not just the quirkiness of home birth settings (which can involve jealously raging house pets or leaky houseboats), but something inherent in the magic of birth itself. What sustains Vincent and her readers is this sense of standing ringside at the greatest miracle on earth. A solid writer, Vincent doesn't preach the virtues of unmedicated birthing; she just lays consistent stories of women doing it Christian Science moms, Muslim moms, spiritualist moms, lesbian moms, teen moms and just plain ordinary moms. With the midwife's axiom "birth is normal till proven otherwise" as a guiding principle, all these women have a chance to make childbirth a crowning moment in their own lives. Male readers may find this female-centered narrative off-putting, and mainstream readers might raise eyebrows at the inclusion of children in the birthing process, but Vincent addresses these issues fairly directly herself. Agent, Felicia Eth. (Apr.) Forecast: With appendices guiding readers to more technical resources, Vincent's latest baby is bound to be popular with women's health and alternative medicine readers. A cover blurb by Anne Lamott could break it out further. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
An independent midwife specializing in home births, Vincent shares her insights into the profound complexities of both childbirth and the behemoth U.S. birth industry. Her vantage is that of a veteran maternity nurse and midwife who, from the 1960s through the early 1990s, practiced in almost every kind of birth setting, from homes to assembly-line hospitals. The reader witnesses the physical and emotional processes of birth through the care-provider's eyes as well as the heroic actions of mothers, midwives, and doctors as they save the lives of babies or confront the status quo in the healthcare system. The three decades of Vincent's practice saw momentous changes in maternity care, which has resulted in a more humane approach to childbirth in our culture. These stories offer a ground-level view of this evolution and also show areas (particularly liability and insurance) where further progress is badly needed. Including a bibliography of scientific studies on the safety of midwife-attended birth, this inspirational and highly informative book is recommended for all public libraries and specialized collections on women's or healthcare issues. Noemie Maxwell Vassilakis, Seattle Midwifery Sch. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Adult/High School-Vincent tells the story of her career from student nurse to delivery-nurse director of an alternative birth center to licensed midwife. Having delivered more than 3000 babies, she has riveting tales to tell about at-home births of women who celebrate their labors with midwife, family, and friends. She delivered a baby in the middle of a raging storm on a leaky sailboat, and tried not to deliver infants as she careened in ambulances and cars in last-minute runs to the hospital. As Vincent's career unfolded, she witnessed the attitudes of the medical establishment that seemed to fight every inch of progress women made in controlling their obstetric care. Readers will be rooting for each woman in childbirth and for Vincent's fight to legitimize midwifery. Future doctors, nurses, and health-care professionals, as well as future mothers and fathers, will want to read this warm and informative look at being a "baby catcher."- Jane S. Drabkin, Chinn Park Regional Library, Woodbridge, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
A joyous account, packed with warm and wonderful stories, though tinged at the end with sorrow. Vincent was only a student nurse when she found her life's passion: obstetrics. When she began working in labor and delivery in 1970 at a Berkeley hospital, a revolution in women's health care was beginning. By 1977, her hospital had opened a birth center catering to women's wishes for a more natural and supportive environment in which to have their babies, and she became its nursing coordinator. After more than a decade as an obstetrical nurse, she went to midwifery school and opened a home-birthing practice as a certified nurse midwife. Most of the stories here recount her hilarious, unpredictable, sometimes hair-raising adventures delivering babies in women's homes, often surrounded by curious children, excited husbands, intrusive friends and relatives, and unhelpful pets. For one patient, giving birth is "like laying an egg"; for another, it's hours of hard labor; for all, it's an unforgettable experience. Ever resourceful and reassuring, Vincent thrives in the happy chaos and communal nature of home births. When her own third child is born at home, the crowd of friends and family includes her preadolescent son and daughter, who clamp and cut the cord. Vincent is an articulate advocate of a non-medical approach to birth, arguing persuasively against the notion that "all births are complicated until proven otherwise." Her own career parallels that of the independent nurse midwife movement in this country, its growth fostered by the rise of feminism, its decline brought on by financial pressures. In 1992, the only insurer of certified nurse midwives attending home births withdrew itscoverage, forcing them out of business. In a poignant epilogue, Vincent gives her books and supplies to a young Muslim woman about to become a midwife in Syria. An inspiring and hard-to-put-down celebration of natural childbirth.
Anne Lamott author of Operating Instructions Baby Catcher is a celebration of life, a book of beautiful and passionate stories of birth and the mothers, fathers, families, and friends who assisted told by a midwife devoted to more tender and natural childbirth. This is an inspiring, important book.
Publishers Weekly A page-turner.