There is a simple way through which I can quickly measure my love of a book in which a midwife shares her story; the number and length of sittings in which I read it. When I realised that what I had intended to be a quick first glance at Kim Woodard Osterholzer’s book, ‘A Midwife in Amish Country’ had expanded to a ninety-minute dive into Kim’s story of her midwifery apprenticeship with a homebirth midwife serving Amish women in the USA, I knew that this was a book that I would want to tell others about.
This book will be different things to different people. It will be balm for the souls of women and midwives seeking confirmation that birth can be a sacred, personal, family-centred journey, even though many do not experience it as such at this stage in history. But Kim’s work is also a vital education for anyone thinking of entering midwifery as well as for those interested in midwifery education on a wider level, for it shows the reality of what it means to become a midwife by apprenticeship. Kim tells the stories of her midwifery experiences within the context of her own life, birth and parenting, her faith and ministry, her joys and health challenges and the amazing love story she shared with her husband Brent while on her apprenticeship journey.
But all of this is much more than backdrop for birth stories. Kim’s gift to her reader is that she tells us the story of her apprenticeship as it happened and within the context of her own life as it was at the time, showing us how birthing, midwifing and relationship are integrated elements of women’s everyday lives, rather than being separate experiences. We learn about Kim’s relationship with her midwifery mentor Jean; a humble, wise role model whose gracefulness as she serves women and her own family makes the story of what happened to Jean’s stockings during one birth so much more delicious. (I can’t possibly tell you more about this here though, because I want you to read the book and find out for yourself!)
‘A Midwife in Amish Country’ is a masterclass in respectful, woman-centred midwifery, written by a woman whose faith and humility are apparent on every page. Kim shows us the value and depth of women’s knowledge and peppers the pages with juicy titbits of midwifery wisdom, but without being so unrealistically romantic that she fails to share the realities and some of the less evidence-based old wives’ tales that she encountered on her journey. I heartily recommend this book.