Childbirth with a Midwife

“Oh.” My grandma smiled at the question, thinking of happier times. “My mama had us all at home in the same bed with the same midwife. There were ten of us and I was the last baby. We knew that midwife all our lives. She was a great big lady and she had a good sense a humor, always laughin’. When I got married, she told your grandpa, ‘You treat my girl right. Gladys is my baby too, and if I hear a you mistreatin’ my baby, I’m gonna come afta you.’” My grandma laughed aloud at this memory, her wrinkled face beaming. “My mama nursed us all, too, for a long time. My oldest brother, Louis, the one who died of rheumatic fever at nineteen, I heard she nursed him all the way to five years old. He would go to school and when he came home, mama would nurse him.” My grandmother laughed some more and so did I, thinking of a boy that age still on the tit. I added home birth to my ideal of what sort of mother I wanted to be.

Synanon Kid Grows Up by C.A. Wittman

Grandmother’s Power


But Carlos remembers Abuela’s quiet power, the way she held ailing children in her arms and cured them. The way she could walk down a village road when she was well. The village was complete with her presence, even though she’d been so quiet. She hardly needed to say a word. Her power had spoken for itself..”

La Neveria a short story in Voice Lessons: Tales of Breaking Free; by Catherine Holm

Midwives and Medical Care


My mother, who is a walking history of our community, tells me that when each of her children was born the midwife accepted as payment such home-grown or homemade items as a pig, a quilt, jars of canned fruits and vegetables. But there was never any question that the midwife would come when she was needed, whatever the eventual payment for her services. I consider this each time I hear of a hospital that refuses to admit a woman in labor unless she can hand over a substantial sum of money, cash.”

-In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens by Alice Walker