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It's the Catchiest Tune About Man-Midwifery You'll Ever Hear

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After coming across the business card of underground midwife, Norman Casserley, I wanted to know the back story. How did the star of the 1961 hit movie, Diary of a Nudist, become an underground man-midwife banned in San Diego, California?


One book offered the context of Casserley and his 1971 arrest for practicing medicine without a license.

The women’s movement may have begun the process of empowering women to take control of their bodies, but the number of women demanding childbirth alternatives rose during the 1970s simply because the baby boomers were entering their childbearing years. Traditional in-hospital delivery under the care of a physician was not acceptable to all birthing women. Some chose home birth, others sought midwife-attended birth, and a select few demanded both. Traditional physicians did not react favorably to either possibility.

The movement to return to home birth in the United States began in California. A male midwife, Norman Casserly, was arrested for practicing medicine without a license in 1971. His arrest, conviction and appeal have brought publicity to home birth and led a growing number of women to rally for birthing alternatives.

Some women, especially obstetric nurses, knew that women wanted their husbands with them at delivery, that they wanted to bond with their babies before they were whisked off to the nursery, and that they questioned whether episiotomies were really necessary. Some of these women agreed to serve as birth attendant for friends or relatives who refused to submit to physician in-hospital delivery. Their willingness to serve became established in the home birth movement, and they became known as lay midwives. In many states these women could face criminal prosecution for practicing medicine without a license. In other states “granny” and frontier midwives had long been acknowledged as serving the needs of rural communities and did not face the same sanctions (Schrom Dye, 1983). Contrasts among states were stark, reflecting the lack of basic services in some regions and the availability of high technology in others. If hospital services for childbirth were available, the medical establishment and the legislatures they influenced assumed that they should be used.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) responded to the demands for alternatives in childbirth with a policy statement proclaiming that home birth was a form of child abuse and neglect (ACOG, 1975). Mainstream medicine, specifically obstetrics, had a monopoly on childbirth that it was not going to give up easily.


But was it really the monopoly on childbirth that ACOG refused to give up or was it the monopoly on catchy, catchy tunes about man-midwives and childbirth that ACOG couldn’t part with?



You be the judge. 

Norris The Troubadour - Midwifery 1975 .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine


You can download this mp3 as a ringtone for your phone. You’re welcome.



Source: Gordon, R., Nienstedt, B., & Gesler, W. (1998). Alternative Therapies. New York: Springer Pub. Co.

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Reader Comments (7)

This....is awesome. That business card is superb. And a SONG?? Man!

December 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJill

That is great!

I had a male midwife for my VBAC:


December 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermamaseoul

Oh, I am absolutely using that as my ring tone. HI-larious. But good for him for challenging ACOG back in the day. Home birth = child abuse? Seriously, folks?

P.S. My 2-year-old wouldn't let me stop playing that song.

December 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLauren @ Hobo Mama

That's because it's an awesome song and your two year old has excellent taste.

December 9, 2009 | Registered CommenterJill

Mamaseoul, you have got to send him this link. He needs his own song with his name in it! Someone just needed to call Jason Mraz or Jack Johnson to record it.

December 9, 2009 | Registered CommenterJill

This made my week. "Exercise and a calm attitude, a mother will realize!" Indeed, Mr. Casserly, indeed.

December 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDou-la-la

I actually thought half seriously about hiring this man, as he was one of the few who would do home VBACS back then. That was one of the things I told David Stewart while standing outside the NAPSAC conference in 1976, as he waited for a cab to the airport, that I was thinking of hiring Norman Casserly. I would have put that in my story but couldn't remember his name. However, although he didn't charge extra for travel, Casserly's base fee was more than I could come up with in advance. Also, his self advertisement did seem a bit hokey to me. I hadn't ever heard this song until now, though.

Note the ad "no handcuffs". That was a normal practice in labor at the time, although consumer awareness and pressure just about eliminated it by the end of the decade.

Thanks for this.

October 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Peterson
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