Monday, April 2, 2012

Book Review: Into These Hands

Into These Hands: Wisdom from Midwives
Geradine Simkins
Paperback, 300 pages
Published by Spirituality & Health Publisher, 2011
ISBN: 9780981870854
Wisdom from Midwives
Reviewed by Molly Remer, Talk Birth

Into These Hands is an amazing anthology of midwives’ retrospectives about their careers and midwifery journey. You won’t find birth stories here–this is book about women’s lives and journeys to midwifery. A book of midwife stories–how women are birthed as midwives, rather than about births they attended–Into These Hands is great reading for aspiring midwives or for currently practicing midwives who wish to feel a sense of solidarity with their sisters. There are many paths, many lessons, many voices and each midwife clearly loves women and has a passion for birth.

From the press release:

We are eager for you to meet some modern-day wise women, healers, revolutionaries, and reformers. Into These Hands, Wisdom from Midwives© is a comprehensive anthology of the life stories of 25 remarkable women who have dedicated their lives and careers to the path of social change through midwifery. These exemplary midwives are all over 50 years of age with 25-40 years in the field. Collectively, they have over 800 years of experience and have assisted in over 35,000 births.

The midwives whose voices are included in the anthology come from diverse backgrounds, training, experiences, and range of practice settings. Quite a few of the stories are from “bridge club” members–women who began as direct entry midwives and later became CNMs. These midwives have a foot in both worlds and insight into the politics of the profession. In general, Into These Hands is a good look at the politics of midwifery both past and present. Almost all of the midwives in the book have homebirth roots or orientation.

Since there are lots of voices represented, the tone or style of some stories is more compelling than others. Some within-story chronology jumps were a little confusing and there were a couple of stories in which I had to do some re-reading for clarity.

Into These Hands is likely to be of particular interest to midwifery activists, aspiring midwives, or current/retired midwives and may hold less appeal for general birth enthusiasts, doulas, or childbirth educators. The stories are rich, insightful, thought-provoking, and diverse and they brought tears to my eyes several times. This book is a treasury of women’s wisdom and a powerful legacy for the generations of women to follow.


(An indicator of how much I like a book is how many page corners I turn down in order to come back to re-read those sections and write blog posts based on them/share quotes/etc. This is Into These Hands last night as I was finishing it...;-D)

Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes.