The flying baby on the cover grabbed my attention but the writing inside the book kept me going. Peggy Vincent is a Midwestern woman who, through a series of plans and accidents, finds herself as a midwife in Berkeley California in the Sixties. She aspires towards the hippie-crunchy lifestyle she sees there and finds herself among a good group of teachers and clients and moves from working in an obstetrics ward to running her own practice, until a bad situation with a client causes her license to be revoked and she goes back to hospital obstetrics.
Vincent is chatty and conversational and you get the feeling she would be a fun person to have a cup of coffee with. Her Midwesterner-in-California personality makes a lot of the things she says when advocating midwifery seem to have more balance than if she were just a homegrown hippie gal who had known nothing else. The book is split into chapters which loosely take us through Vincent’s schooling at the rate of about one birth a chapter. Since most non-fiction birth stories usually are from the point of view of the birther, we rarely see giving birth in such a wide range of types, styles and opinions. Vincent is good at telling it how she sees it, offering advice but generally being supportive of most of the women and their individual choices in how to bear their babies. Since she is a midwife, she obviously leans towards this avenue as a preferred means of having control over ones own birthing situation, but does not get polemical or strident. She lets the stories speak for themselves, and she’s good at telling them.