Thursday, May 7, 2009

Early Mother's Day Post

In honor of mother's day I am posting a Mother's day message and a book review by Jennifer Worth, The Midwife. If it was not for these dedicated and hard working nurses in England most of the East end of England would not be here. In honor of them, and all the midwives around the world. I wish you all a Happy Mother's Day. And of course all of us Mother's. Happy Mother's Day.

The Midwife
A memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times
By Jennifer Worth
Penguin Publishing

Author's Bio: Jennifer Worth trained as a nurse at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, England. She then moved to London to train as a midwife. She later became a staff nurse at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, and then ward sister at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in Euston. Music had always been her passion and in 1973 Jennifer left nursing in order to study music intensively. She gained the Licentiate of the London College of Music in 1974 and was awarded a fellowship ten years later. Mother of two daughters and grandmother of two; Jennifer lives in Hertfordshire with her husband Philip Worth.

The Midwife, is a memoir. Not just on the medical aspect of giving birth as a midwife. It is the time at post World War 2, in London England. It is the life and times in the east end in London at the docks. The many people she meets. Jennifer's memoir also discusses the medical history of women in the early 20th Century. The history of midwives, the sanitary conditions if there were any. The sexual revolution that was starting in the 60's.

Jennifer at the age of 22 moved in with the sisters of Nonnatus House. We meet her patients and the families, the living situations. Mainly families that can not scrape together two cents to their names, the strange characters out in the streets. The sisters that live and work with Jennifer, and prostitutes on the streets who she befriends.

Part of her duties was to do ante-partum care. Making sure the homes were clean and sanitary for the preparation of the delivery. Because most hospitals did not deliver babies. It was too expensive for doctors to care for the mothers.

In the 1950's women stayed on their backs and were committed to bed rest. It is not like this any longer. Most women without complications are discharged within 24 hours. This is because of insurance. I don't mean to get on my high horse. But unfortunately this is a man's world and women don't even have a chance to rest.

The book covers the background of life for a women in the 50's. How women were thought of during this time. What the health profession felt about women. In England women gave birth at home, it was not heard of women giving birth in the hospitals.
That did not start till the 1960's.

The story about life in that area with the working conditions, and the slums with over crowding in the tenement houses. I loved the old fashioned bike. This is how Jennifer got around. Jennifer even talks about her intolerance to some of the charachters. But after being around them she comes around and has empathy for them.

There are many different mothers and their children stories in the book.
Some of the stories are heart wrenching, sad, happy, and funny. Even a few things that were strange. You will say to your self that is just too strange.

There is a woman with 25 children. The story about her and her delivery will give you goose bumps. Have a decent Kleenex nearby.

There is a young girl that runaway and befriends and tries to help. She unfortunately goes into the oldest profession" Prostitution".

The next was a old women, Rosie. That was a lonely women. You find out later why she
is the way she is. This is only a few stories that make you want to cheer on.

Another story that really moved me. the mother is white, and the father is white. The mother gives birth to a dark child. The assumption by the author is that that the father knew something was amiss but he loved the mother and the child so much did it really matter where the child came from. He loved him no matter.

The author said she wrote this book because there was not any recognition given to the Midwife profession. I don't know about England. But in the U.S. the midwife profession did not have as many hard ships as in England. I can remember when I was going to nursing school. Doctors did not respect midwives. They felt threatened that midwives would take away their business.

I enjoyed reading the book and comparing the midwife practice in England to the U.S. The medical profession, Women's health, the living conditions and socioeconomic times for the poor families that lived in the tenement houses.

There is appendix at the end about the cockney dialect. I did not appreciate it because as a American I did not know what the cockney dialect is. But I am sure someone who has lived in England knows what she is talking about.

This is a book that I can see you reading with a cup of hot English tea and scones and savoring it to the last drop. I can't say too much more. Just that I loved it
The only disappointment about the book was that I finished the book. There is a abrupt ending. There was not a conclusion. But, never the less I loved this book.

As I was reading the book I had to remember this was not a novel but a memoir. It was that good. The stories of the mothers and the ordinary people that lived in the docks seemed heart warming at times, heart wrenching. I actually could put myself at the book setting.

There was a glossary with medical terms that I did not need because I am in the medical field. But for those of you that don't know what fundus, or placenta is this is a good reference.

This would be a good book discussion with a group of nurses, especially nurses that are midwives.

Thank you Caitlin of FSB Associates for allowing me to review and post my thoughts on The Midwife. Below I posted a video of a interesting interview with the author.
There is a interview by the author here

The Midwife by Jennifer Worth - For more funny movies, click here


Anonymous said...

This sounds fascinating. I've rarely seen memoirs of midwives. Good review!

bermudaonion said...

I love memoirs, so this book sounds right up my alley.

Julie P. said...

I'm reading this one right now and loving it!

Red lady-Bonnie said...

I have read nothing but wonderful reviews of this book. I really enjoy reading stories about midwives, fiction and non fiction.
I'm not a nurse but do work in healthcare. I believe midwives are amazing women who take on a wonderful service to women and children.

Tara said...

Great video, so glad you posted it! Do you think you'll seek out the other books by this author?

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