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Tales of a Bay Area Baby Catcher

Peggy Vincent's Life as a Modern Midwife

When it comes to birth and babies, Bay Area midwife Peggy Vincent has truly seen -- and done -- it all. From battling evil cats when a mom is in labor, to delivering a baby in a leaky houseboat off the Berkeley marina during a huge storm, Vincent has countless incredible stories to tell about her years as an independent midwife in the Bay Area.

At a time in the U.S. when caesarean sections are common and the mother's labor is sometimes induced for the doctor's convenience, Vincent's recently published memoir, Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife, is a breath of fresh air. Vincent has crafted a hilarious, nail-biting, heartwarming, liberating tribute to her work delivering babies at home and to the history of midwives. She also paints an important picture of home birth and unmedicated birth, which are often left out of more mainstream depictions.

Vincent's story begins in North Carolina in the 1960s, as she trains to become an obstetrics nurse. One of her first patients is an African American women who refuses to take drugs or to lay down and be quiet while in labor, to the dismay of Vincent, who fears the doctors will become angry at her inability to control this mother. But Vincent realizes something in this moment: that each woman gives birth differently, and maybe there's something to be said for finding one's own way, for allowing each experience to be individual and self determined. This realization carries Vincent along the path to midwifery; her welcoming tone and warm voice invite readers to join her travels from one dramatic birth to the next.

If you aren't already fascinated by birth stories, you will be after reading these -- Vincent recounts about forty different tales, each more intense and exhilarating than the next. Although the book ends on a somewhat sad note with regards to the turn her career takes, Vincent maintains an overwhelming awe at the process she has been lucky enough to witness. She pulls us in, so that we are kneeling right next to her, gloves on, ready to catch.

Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife
By Peggy Vincent
Hardcover: 336 pages (April 2002)
Scribner: ISBN: 0743219333

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