Vere McCarty, Salem Weekly

Her book is dedicated, personally and specifically, to each of the women she visits and interviews.  Next to their intriguing names are pictures of midwives whose pride in their work shines right through their material poverty. In these dozens of intensely personal stories, the women talk about their pathways to becoming midwives, sometimes a calling, more often a response to the urgent need of a neighbor.  They tell of assisting women through long hours of labor, with little payment, sometimes in the most challenging of circumstances. your paragraph here.

To see the entire review, click here.

Holistic Parenting Magazine, Kathryn Los

I fell in love with this book immediately. Gabriel gives a moving and honest account of the personal experiences and practices of a host of traditional midwives in rural Mexico. The deeply personal connections between the author and the midwives and their families is beautiful. Touching Lives is sure to get you hooked, warm your heart, and open your eyes to the important work of granny midwives. Wholeheartedly recommended!

To see the entire review, click here

Squat Birth Journal

This book offers great insight into a cultural tradition and its interaction with modern obstetrics... a powerful look into the lives and work of southern Mexican midwives. The vast majority of midwives interviewed are toward the end of their careers and lives, and it is a treasure to have their wisdom preserved in this way.

To see the entire review,click here.(Page 82)

Patrick Oster, author of The Mexicans: A Personal Portrait of a People
Touching Bellies, Touching Lives will attract the interest of anthropologists, sociologists, and those in the medical profession for its groundbreaking insights into what midwives in Mexico have done and are poised to do to help pregnant women give birth at a time when there aren't enough doctors to go around. So, too, general readers, especially those interested in Mexico, will be gripped by the human stories of how these women perform valuable services and save lives in parts of Mexico where help is needed. The techniques they use surprised me, as they would some doctors. Mexico is more than tourist beach resorts and ancient pyramids. This book takes readers deep inside one of its most human traditions.

Robbie Davis-Floyd, Senior Research Fellow, The University of Texas at Austin, author of Birth as an American Rite of Passage
For anyone interested in the lives, the wisdom, and the practices of traditional midwives in Mexico, and the effects of modern influences, Touching Bellies, Touching Lives offers fascinating stories and rich insight. Gabriel, a doula and childbirth educator with long ties to the women whose stories she shares, writes with empathy and warmth.

Dr. Rixa Freeze, PhD, Stand and Deliver, winner of Lamaze International’s Annual Media Award

​​These stories gave me a glimpse into another world. Even though the midwives lived and worked in the 20th century, their lives were often unimaginably different from anything I have known. Alongside their midwifery journeys, you'll also read about the women's lives: childhood, marriage, babies, hardships. It's fascinating. Mexican midwives are an endangered species, and their extraordinary knowledge and experience are dying out with them. 
We are lucky to have these midwives' stories captured in Judy's book.

To see the entire review,click here.

Midwest Book Review

An informed and informative body of deftly presented scholarship throughout.

To see entire review, click here.

Sarah Clark, Mama Birth

Perhaps my favorite thought from Touching Bellies, Touching Lives:
Judy Gabriel lists a myriad of things that both modern OBs and traditional midwives have done to help ensure that babies are born healthy, from the cesarean section and episiotomy of modern times to narcotics, back rubs and rebozos. She even lists the seemingly ridiculous on both sides. Then she says,:"In that triumphant moment when we hear the baby's first cry, when we place the baby in the other's arms and share in her relief and joy, we experience the great satisfaction of knowing that what we did must have been exactly the right thing to do."

​To see the entire review, click here.

Story Circle Book Reviews
This book is much more than the title suggests. It's the author's personal journey—not only her frequent travels to Mexico to learn about the tradition of midwifery there—but also her journey of growth as she learns about herself and develops purpose and meaning in her own life. It also tells the stories of individual midwives, both in their own (translated) words as well as Gabriel's interaction with them. Beyond this, it is a book about a traditional way of life that is being lost, and that deserves to live on. Gabriel weaves all of these different fibers together wonderfully, with humor, insight, compassion and practicality. Black and white photographs throughout the book add dimension to the story, allowing us to see the women whose stories are being told. In a way, reading this book is like sitting on a couch with the author as she pages through a scrapbook of old friends, telling you a bit about each one.
To see the entire review, 
click here.

The Oregonian
Her book tells [the midwives'] stories and explains their traditional practices – such as massaging pregnant women's bellies to shift their infants into the best possible positions – in an effort to show that "birth is a natural human process" and to preserve the midwives' knowledge. "The way people come into this world has an extreme impact on the world," Gabriel says. "Every single detail of that process is such a miracle, is so beyond anything technology could ever design. ... There are so many parts of it we don't even understand yet."
To see the entire article, 
click here.  

Portland Book Review
​Judy Gabriel has collected stories from several midwives who have spent their lives living and working in southern Mexico. She has spent countless hours poking around Mexico, seeking out the midwives and asking them to tell her of their experiences, practices, beliefs, and traditions. Gabriel, who is a doula practicing in Oregon, makes use of her years of experience in American hospitals to shed light on the gulf between modern technology and the practices of these midwives. Each story is carefully curated, telling of remarkable deliveries, interesting remedies, and the everyday lives of these women.
To see the entire review, 
click here.  

Our Town, Silverton, Oregon
Touching Bellies, Touching Lives is filled with fascinating stories of the midwives Gabriel met. Descriptions of traditional practices – like the belly massage of the book’s title – are intertwined with incredible tales of life in Mexico and Gabriel’s search to find these women and capture their stories before it is too late. Most of the midwives are old, and they are not being replaced. Mexico is adopting a medicalized approach to childbirth and medical professionals are leaving behind a tradition that is often derided as some sort of witch doctor mumbo-jumbo.
To see the entire article, 
click here.  

Peggy Vincent, California midwife and author of Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife
Important both historically and anthropologically, Touching Bellies, Touching Lives is most of all a compelling ride on a magic rebozo via the recorded stories of skilled (but rapidly disappearing) traditional midwives of southern Mexico.

​Statesman Journal, Salem. Oregon 
Since 2003, Silverton author and doula Judy Gabriel has traveled to every Mexican state south of Mexico City. She visited remote villages and interviewed more than 100 midwives, mostly elderly women whose societal role is dying. “There are people still walking this earth who know what childbirth was like before modern medicine told us what it should be like,” Gabriel said. “Their stories represent a tradition that I thought should be honored.”
To see the entire article, click here,

Holly Scudero, ​Leaves of Lavendar
The heart of Touching Bellies, Touching Lives lies in Gabriel's interviews with dozens and dozens of traditional midwives throughout the region. There are so many stories scattered throughout the pages of this relatively small book, stories where women tell of how they became midwives in the first place, where they learned the skills they use to care for pregnant women, and some of the more memorable births they attended. Touching Bellies, Touching Lives is a fantastic and informative read. While it will appeal most strongly to those already interested in pregnancy, labor, and birth, readers of all kinds will be able to see interesting parallels between the over-medicalization of childbirth in the U.S. and similar trends in Mexico. Gabriel's passion for midwifery is clear in every page of this delightful book, which is a true pleasure to read.
To see the entire review, 
click here.  

Molly Remer, Talkbirth
I was expecting a collection of birth stories from Mexican midwives. While there are birth stories, and everyone knows that I love birth stories, this book is so much more than a birth story collection. It is a personal pilgrimage, a preservation of the legacy of midwives, an examination of cultural birth practices, and a sobering first-hand account of the declining culture of traditional midwifery in Mexico. I absolutely loved reading Touching Bellies, Touching Lives. It is an extremely interesting, thought-provoking, and thoroughly fascinating journey. The information about the gradual decline and near-extinction of midwifery in Mexico is sobering, but the book does end on a hopeful note. 
To see the entire review, 
click here.  

Carol Gray, Craniosacral Therapy For Mothers, Babies and Everyone
I absolutely loved this book. I’m obsessed with the idea of achieving ideal positions for babies in utero. This book tells the story over and over of how the midwives massage the babies into good positions. That, however, is not the only reason to read this book. It also tells the story of the imminent disappearance of midwives in southern Mexico. Thank you, Judy, for taking the time to interview these women. Thank you for sharing with us their universal trust in birth. Thank you for preserving their stories. I loved every page. 
To see the entire review, 
click here.


Articles and Reviews​

Midwifery Today Magazine​, June 2016

Articles and Reviews