Midwives: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian
This novel, which feels like an autobiography (but isn’t), is a story about a teenage girl whose mother is a midwife brought to trial, accused of killing a patient while assisting her during a home delivery. This story articulates well the debate between delivery in the home vs. in a hospital/birthing center. It also speaks to the lay midwives vs. nurse midwives (are there any lay midwives anymore, in our culture of lawsuits and malpractice??).
As a physician, it was interesting for me to read this book, as I am not a fan of the home delivery. Having seen first hand devastating outcomes from this, I feel one has to be out of her mind to be that far away from potentially life-saving procedures. In a situation, where minutes, even seconds, count, you want to have everything close by. The perspective of the author is much more sympathetic, however. In spite of the bad outcome, the sympathy lies with the midwife in this account (or does it?) and it is a fascinating trial that the book leads up to.
Throughout the book, the author does not give the decision of the trial until the end, which maintains the suspense during the book. It is a very interesting read. I’d love to hear what others, especially non-physicians, think!