Labor of Love: A Midwife’s Memoir by Cara Muhlhahn

The autobiography of a homebirth midwife in New York City.

Labor of Love is a book that really meant a lot to me. I had both of my daughters at home with midwives and worked quite hard this spring lobbying Albany to pass the Midwifery Modernization Act. My first midwife is featured heavily in the book as she is a good friend to Muhlhahn, and it was nice to encountar her in a different way.

Muhlhahn became a divisive figure after an unflattering profile in New York Magazine followed by her very public role at the center of Ricki Lake’s documentary The Business of Being Born. When I became pregnant with my second daughter, my original midwife was unavailable for my due month, and she recommended I contact Muhlhahn. Honestly I was hesitant to do so because her persona in the film seemed like one that would not jive with my personality. I have been assured by a few close friends who worked with her that she’s much more of a calm presence than the movie made her out to be. I did make an appointment to meet her but before that happened I met with another midwife and made an instant connection. (She ended up missing the birth because my second daughter also has superfast powers, but I would work with her again in a heartbeat.)

The honesty of the book really appealed to me and I was fascinated by her journey from working as a lay midwife to going to nursing school. I wish she had more stories of her years as a lay midwife, since they are unlicensed and often work underground, but the book was too short. Maybe she can be convinced to write a follow-up. I’d love to read that.

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