Burtch examines the transformation of the role of the midwife, particularly the international resurgence of the midwifery movement over the past twenty years. He also looks at contemporary midwifery practice in Canada and the role of the state in shaping and defining that practice. Burtch deals specifically with the qualifications of midwives and the care given by them both in and out of hospital and discusses their legal status, the legacy of competition between nurses and midwives, and the impact of legal actions concerning midwifery practice. He emphasizes the pivotal role of the state in supporting midwifery and discusses the difficulties created by increasing interest in midwifery among expectant women and the social forces that inhibit the establishment of a self-governing midwifery profession. Today health care policy analysts throughout the country are questioning whether midwifery can offer a more holistic, safe, and less costly manner of supervising child-birth in Canada. At present, midwifery has legal status in only two provinces: Ontario and Alberta. Government policymakers, health care professionals, and the women's community will find that this timely book provides critically needed information.
"Burtch presents a dynamic view of the midwifery movement, looking at it within the constraints of the larger political system and the law ... Trials of Labour also contributes to the literature on Canadian health care politics. One of its greatest strengths lies in the original research on community midwives." Shelly Romalis, Department of Anthropology, York University.