Thursday, January 7, 2010

Book Review: Labor of Love

Labor of Love: A Midwife’s Memoir
by Cara Muhlhahn, CNM
Kaplan Publishing, 2009
Softcover, 232 pages

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE,

Labor of Love is a spirited account of urban midwifery written by the CNM who was featured in the documentary The Business of Being Born, Cara Muhlhahn. This book would be particularly interesting to midwifery students and midwives who plan to practice in urban areas. Anyone who is expects midwifery memoirs to be full of empowering birth stories and life on the commune will find a different flavor in this tale.

This memoir was much more autobiographical than many other books in this genre--there were lots of details about Cara’s personal life, past, and family (details which are nearly absent in some other midwifery memoirs). There were also fewer birth stories than I had expected and the birth stories themselves were not very detailed. In general, Labor of Love was a multifaceted picture of a midwife’s life, her path to midwifery, her thoughts about her career, and her varied work experiences.

A strong thread of self-satisfaction—and almost smugness—runs throughout the book and it can be distracting, but then again, perhaps a gutsy midwife deserves some self-congratulation! The book feels more relevant to midwifery students than it is to childbirth educators, doulas, or other general birth activists. If you are looking for a picture of contemporary, modern, urban midwifery and how a woman’s life expands to incorporate it, you may enjoy Cara’s story.

This is a revised version of a review previously published in CfM News.

Disclosure notice: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

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