MOTHER WIT: An Alabama Midwife's Story by Onnie Lee & Katherine Clark Logan

MOTHER WIT: An Alabama Midwife's Story

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One of the last of the South's black ""granny midwives"" relates her story in her own inimitable voice. The 14th of 16 children, young Onnie was reared in the early years of this century on an Alabama ""plantation"" handed down from a grandfather. As soon as she was old enough, she became the family cook, while her brothers and sisters tended the fields and livestock or ran a home-based laundry. The family shared much of the farm's bounty with poorer neighbors, while Logan's midwife mother frequently accepted only ""some co'en, chicken, greens"" for delivering babies and nursing new mothers. ""From a lil' girl, I wanted to be a nurse,"" writes Logan. Although her mother died before passing on her knowledge, some years later, Logan was encouraged by a doctor (for whose family she worked) to study for midwife certification. With the ""mother wit"" given to her, she believes, by God, she developed--and here shares--the natural childbirthing techniques that enabled her to deliver hundreds of healthy babies while losing only one. She describes many unusual deliveries, ruminates on the impact of racial prejudice (which she handles with enormous forebearance) and lambastes welfare mothers ""waitin' on they check. . . and they spend two-thirds on they personal selves."" After her practice became virtually limited to white women whose religion forebade hospitalization or who wanted natural childbirth, Logan found the renewal of her license inexplicably denied--but ""they're not gonna stop me from doin' the gift that God gave me to do."" A warm and fascinating slice of American oral history.

Pub Date: Aug. 24th, 1989
Publisher: Dutton