Judy Gabriel has collected stories from several midwives who have spent their lives living and working in southern Mexico. She has spent countless hours poking around Mexico, seeking out the midwives and asking them to tell her of their experiences, practices, beliefs, and traditions. Gabriel, who is a doula practicing in Oregon, makes use of her years of experience in American hospitals to shed light on the gulf between modern technology and the practices of these midwives. Each story is carefully curated, telling of remarkable deliveries, interesting remedies, and the everyday lives of these women.
Gabriel’s work, aside from being fascinating, is important. She is recording the stories of women whose profession is disappearing in Mexico. In a time in which modern medicine is revered, the old practices are shunned, and the wealth of knowledge and experience these women have cultivated is undervalued, Gabriel’s work could not be more important. Her writing drips with curiosity and a little sadness at how few women are allowed to have a natural birth experience when C-sections are preferred by doctors. Her work makes it clear that the needs of women once again take a backseat to the patriarchy of the medical community. This is for anyone interested in the birth process and in the dialogue between doctors and midwives. For anyone who is squeamish, approach with a little caution. There are plenty of descriptions of births in all of their messy glory.
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