I just have to interject here- "delivering" a baby is a lot (A LOT) different than the care that a midwife (like Ina May) provides. OBs literally just come in during the last moments and catch the baby. It is the nurses that truly care for the woman during labor (and even that is done from a central nurses station); during prenatal visits the OB is usually only with the woman for 5 minutes on average. Midwives have hour long prenatal visits and are with the woman for most if not all of labor and childbirth, as well as during some postpartum hours. As far as who understands the process of birth more, I put ALL my money on midwives. As a rule, doctors are trained in pathology and they act according to risk-management (as well as out of fear of litigation). They are trained specifically to diagnose and treat ISSUES, not to facilitate natural processes. As far as low-risk, normal birthing, midwives are MORE than equipped to help guide that process and they are also well-trained in troubleshooting so as to know when to transfer to an OB. Just so you know, those sort of transfers only happen in about 3% of normal births.
So, if you asked me if a woman who has been with 2000 mothers throughout pregnancy and labor knows more about labor and birth process than an OB who has simply "caught" 3000+ babies, I'd say, without hesitation, YES the midwife knows more. Childbirth is not an illness. Doctors treat illness.
I also want to add that I think the books Ina May has written are so important. No book is perfect, no author is perfect, and I can see your issue, Kanna, with that particular passage but as a whole I think that she is right on. Promoting natural birthing is important, especially here in America, and it's important for women to be able to make informed choices about birth.
Anyway just wanted to respond to this post with an experience(kindof)! A friend of mine who has been a labor and delivery nurse in a large hospital for the last 15 years said to me once that she "HATES" OB's, because, the ones that she works with at least, treat the nurses like crap and act like they themselves are the "star of the show" and that they do ALL of the work, when in reality it is the nurses who do Everything, except the last 5 minutes when the "catching" takes place. She says the Drs come in for their 5 minutes of "glory" when they catch the baby, and that is all. She herself has ended up delivering many babys when the Dr did not come in time. This makes no sense to me.... I think what she has to say is totally true because my first birth was in the hospital and that was exactly my experience. I remember asking the nurse when the Dr was coming while I was pushing, and asked if she had ever delivered a baby herself. She said she had delivered many when the Dr did not show up in time. I also do not think that that one passage in Ina Mays book discredits the whole thing or should make a person not trust what she has to say, its not like she said something that would be harmful or anything.
With this pregnancy my first midwife appt was 2 hours long and I really enjoyed it! And my third appt was over an hour, also awesome. Much better than spending 30 minutes in a Drs waiting room and just talking to the Dr for 5 min(usually less IME) and not getting any of my questions or concerns answered. Not that I am wanting any more arguing, but having a midwife has certainly worked out best for me and I hope others can have a good experience like I have!