by Mary Sommers
MavenMark Books (HenschelHAUS Publishing) (October 1, 2011), 148 pages
Reviewed by Molly Remer, Talk Birth
More Than a Midwife is a thoroughly delightful little volume by experienced and resourceful midwife, Mary Sommers. One of the things that makes the book particularly distinctive is the impressive diversity of Mary’s work experience. The book includes stories from her work as a midwife in urban Chicago as well as in Africa and Mexico. As always, glimpsing the dire situations facing birthing women cross-culturally is a sobering reminder of the immense challenges international midwives face with few physical resources—they accomplish an amazing level of care with only their heads, hands, and hearts.
Each story shared in the book is selected with care and has an important message to share. The stories are about unique women and their unique births and what Mary (and the reader) can learn from them. From empowering and exhilarating, to difficult and heartbreaking, particularly notable are the stories that remind us all to treat every woman with dignity and respect, regardless of her life’s circumstances or choices. Mary is clearly a midwife who loves women and birth and practices with sensitivity, respect, and positive regard.
More Than a Midwife is a slim paperback. It is nice size to hold easily and the stories are short and easy to read in small chunks of free time. It is occasionally erratic in the organization/flow of a story and in a few of them I had to re-read segments to understand chronology. However, this was a negligible issue in the context of this thoroughly enjoyable small book.
Mary Sommers has written a true gem of a book. I feel honored to have read More Than a Midwife and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in birth, homebirth, midwifery, or women’s health. Most excellent!
Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes.