Amish Cook Lovina Eicher reminisces in her latest column about the birth of her first daughter. She recalls giving birth with the help of a midwife, something that’s not uncommon for the Amish. The midwife actually happened to be a relative in this case. And, there was a doctor at hand just in case (one that had a multi-generation tie to Lovina’s family). Here’s the relevant excerpt from her column:
June 14 was the 28th birthday of our first-born daughter Elizabeth. I wish her many more happy and healthy years. She has been married almost seven years to a nice loving husband, Tim, and they have been blessed with four precious children Abigail, 5; Timothy (T.J.), 3; Allison, 2; and Andrea, 4 months.
This year was hot on June 14, just like in 1994. That was a very hot night when Elizabeth was born at 9:58 p.m. We were living with my parents, and Joe’s aunt was my midwife. Dr. Osborne was also there just in case there were complications. Dr. Osborne had delivered me in that same house 23 years earlier. He delivered all eight of us siblings.
I had a long labor, and I remember how warm it was. It was warmer than when all my three July babies were born. We didn’t have fans like we do now, except my dad would use a little square fan that ran with batteries when it was that hot. He had asthma and hay fever, and that little fan would help him breathe. I still remember when Dad saw me having all the hard pain; he handed that fan to me and told me to use it for myself.
I was often thankful to have my mother there those next weeks when I tried to take care of our first baby. I had problems getting her to breastfeed, and Mom spent lots of nighttime hours helping me. I have many precious memories of my parents!
I found this touching for many reasons – the father’s sharing of the meager little fan to give his daughter some relief; an aunt playing the role of midwife; the very same doctor that delivered Lovina at hand to make sure her first birth went well. Not to mention the birth happening at home.
I can see why many Amish prefer home birth with the aid of a midwife when you consider how personal even this excerpt, which only has relatively sparse details, feels. It also has the benefit of being less expensive.
Of course it has its downsides as well, such as safety concerns, but with a doctor nearby it seems those can be pretty well mitigated. Here’s a further look at why Amish families often prefer home birth (or hybrid alternatives like birthing centers). At the same time, many Amish also opt for hospital birth, as in this account.