Review: The Midwife’s Confession

finally finished The Midwife’s Confession right before we left for vacation (Remember way back? Our January/February/March pick?)

It turns out that this book didn’t have all that much to do with nursing. Although it was an enjoyable light read overall, I felt a little silly selecting it as a book club option. There wasn’t much content that I could turn into nursing-related discussion points, besides the obvious grossly unethical behavior of the central character.

There were some interesting conversations toward the beginning of the book about midwifery. As a huge fan of midwives, I was intrigued by the debates about the medical model that dominates pregnancy and childbirth today. It seems that this is not a new debate. Nor are the questions about training and certification of midwives. I wondered how the transition from lay health provider to board-certified, licensed practitioner has changed the culture of midwifery, for better or for worse. More than anything, this book made me want to learn more about the history of midwifery. Any suggestions for good nonfiction reading about this topic?

This book also raised some important questions about professional boundaries. Noelle, the central character, planned to attend the births of her two best friends, both of whom wanted home births. However, as a close friend of both women, should she have been so involved in their care as their primary provider? Does the line become professional and personal become too blurred when you assume care of someone you know so well? Does your judgment become inevitably altered, with sometimes disastrous consequences (as the surprise twist at the end might suggest)?

I suppose that was the primary dilemma that I wrestled with throughout the story. When you are a health care provider, can you or should you be the primary care giver for someone you know and love? It’s hard enough to maintain boundaries with patients you care deeply about.

What do you think? Did you read The Midwife’s Confession? Did you find yourself asking the same questions? Or were there other issues that came up for you in the story? Do you have suggestions for where I can learn more about midwifery?

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