Recently, I have been reading about and viewing a television program about midwives.  I have just finished “The Midwife of Hope River” by Patricia Harman.  Set int he 1920s and 1930s in the rural regions of West Virginia, this is the story of Patience Murphy.  Patience by the time she is in her early 30s has lost both her parents, a lover, a baby, and a husband.  Life has not been easy for her.  Rescued by two women involved in the early labor movement in Philadelphia, she learns from them the skill of being a midwife.

The details about this period of time, including vivid descriptions of delivering babies, makes this an interesting story.  Patricia Harman herself practice midwifery.  Her knowledge, coupled with research she did about the period of time in which the story is se,t makes this novel a good read.

An even better view of being a midwife is portrayed in the PBS series “Call the Midwife.”  Set in the 1950s in London’s East End, this extremely popular British series focuses on the lives on four midwives and the convent of Anglican nuns that offer their services to the women of the community.  The acting is very good and the attention to detail is extraordinary.

“The Midwife of Hope River” and “Call the Midwife” remind us of another time when having a baby didn’t mean calling your OB and being driven to the hospital.  Both mothers and midwives performed heroic acts of courage in the not too distant past and still do in many countries in today’s world.

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