Armstrong-Penny, Feldman-Sheryl, Memoir, Non-Fiction, social commentary

#568 A Midwife’s Story by Penny Armstrong

A Midwife's Story by Penny ArmstrongA Midwife’s Story by Penny Armstrong and Sheryl Feldman

Penny decides at a very young age, in her Nana’s kitchen, that she wants to be a midwife. She knows she has to choose something and being a midwife is what she chooses. She loves babies and she admires the whole process. Penny goes to school. She ends up in a midwifery program in Scotland, where she delivers babies and learns about people who want babies, but also about people who don’t want babies. She enters the Booth Midwifery program in The United States before being hired on under a doctor who lives out in Amish country.

The doctor wants her to deliver the babies of the Amish people. They will be more comfortable with a woman. They will see that a midwife is just as capable as a doctor at delivering babies. Penny has some hurdles. At first, she is not allowed to deliver babies in the local county hospital, but she is awarded the privilege, after which, five doctors resign.

Penny relays stories of various Amish women, both young and older, delivering babies. Penny is lucky to have very few losses. Many of the women deliver healthy babies, although some become sick later. Penny fights a few of her own battle along the way. She gets married and has to deal with some losses of her own. Penny learns to love the people she serves and eventually accepts things as meant to be if they happen.

During Penny’s entire midwifery career, she fights to give women the right to deliver babies how they are comfortable delivering babies.

What I liked

I enjoy both books about the Amish people and about midwifery, why not read a book that has both?

What I didn’t like

This book was a good read, but it wasn’t really anything I didn’t already know. I already knew about the problems with Western medicine versus midwifery and I already knew about the Amish people. I’m sure there is more I could learn all around, but the things Penny portrays, I already knew. This book is not going to be anything special if you have already read books about midwifery and the Amish people.

It is sad that in some cases the Amish people refuse modern treatment by modern doctors and accept that this is how God wants things. There are modern medicine treatments that can help people live longer. It’s a shame not to take advantage of them. On the flip side of this, I understand to an extent. These people think it’s unnatural, or more trouble than it’s worth, which can definitely be the case. How natural is having a pig valve in your heart? Not very, but it will keep you alive longer. Some treatments also aren’t worth your time. If you have a treatment, but you’re still going to die a few months later and the treatment is awful, what’s the point in having the treatment? Why subject yourself to more misery?

Look, some treatments do help people and can help cure them, but if you’re doing to die anyway because of your disease in a short time frame, why spend the rest of if miserable and sick in bed? Maybe have a few days where you can sit up and be with your family instead. It’s all a matter of preference of course.


This is a good book, but nothing spectacular.

Weigh In

Do you think it’s always best to do what the doctor says?

Would you go against a doctor’s wishes if you were informed otherwise?


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