Book Group Discussion Questions

Hannah Delivered

Exploring Characters

  1. Behind Hannah’s story is the question, How do people change? How did Hannah change? What elements of Hannah’s circumstance and personality made personal change possible for her?
  2. There are male midwives practicing in our country, but they are few and far between. What did you think of Stuart? Why are male OB/GYNs socially acceptable but male midwives seems radical and strange?
  3. Of all the births in this novel, which do you believe is the central one? Why?
  4. Hannah accuses Maryann of “exercising her sly midwifery self” on Hannah. How was Maryann a midwife to Hannah? In what ways did Maria, Sunny, and Stuart act as Hannah’s midwife?
  5. For all of Hannah’s struggle with Carol Simic, she eventually respects Carol’s self-protection and her ability to grieve. What were the ramifications of buried grief in Hannah’s family?

Connecting Experiences

  1. What did Hannah’s story make you think of about your own birth or your children’s birth? Maryann says it matters how babies are born, and Hannah’s story explores how this was true for her. Is it true for you?
  2. A midwife in Hannah, Delivered tells a laboring mother, “Push through your pain. Your baby’s on the other side of that pain.” Midwives often tell mothers not to be afraid of birth pain. Why do you think our culture is so afraid of birth pain? What do experiences of pushing through our pain have to teach us?
  3. Midwifery operates with a deep reverence for the wisdom inherent in women’s bodies. But midwifery and this wisdom are largely marginalized in our culture. What might midwifery reveal to us about our own bodily wisdom? What would it mean to reclaim this wisdom?
  4. Hannah, Delivered shows apprenticeship as an ancient and active model of learning. Have you ever experienced an apprenticeship? How is it different or similar to academic learning?
  5. Secrecy plays a big role in Hannah’s experience. What are the ramifications of Hannah’s parents’ secret?

Probing Ideas

  1. Sharon Deloz Parks writes in her book, Big Questions, Worthy Dreams, “Faith must be emancipated from its too-easy equation with belief and religion and reconnected with meaning, trust, and truth.” Hannah pushes against her father’s traditional Christian faith and against Chuck’s more liberal faith, but she has a hard time articulating her own. How would you describe Hannah’s faith at the end of the novel? What, in addition to any faith tradition you practice, do you put your faith in? What connects you to meaning, trust, and truth?
  2. Early on in researching Hannah, Delivered, the author was told by a midwife, “Natural birth is feminism’s final frontier.” What do you think? What exactly might she mean?
  3. Sunny gives Hannah and Stuart a lesson about the chemical progressions in labor—how adrenaline overrides the chemicals that relieve pain, stimulate contractions, and motivate bonding. Fear that serves us in emergencies becomes painful and destructive in childbirth. When else is this true?
  4. Midwives support birth at home and in homey birth centers as a way to increase birthing mothers’ comfort. In other words, they use the environment and their relationship to birthing mothers to support birth. How did you see this played out in the novel? How might we apply this wisdom to other arenas of our lives?
  5. The primary factor determining a woman’s satisfaction with her delivery, regardless of whether it was at home, in a birth center, at a hospital, or in surgery, is whether or not a caring professional was present the entire time. Attentive presence matters. Why do you think this is? In what other arenas of our lives might this also be true?
  6. Maryann says to Hannah, “You find out who you are and step it out, you can’t help but rip the social fabric.” Do you have any stories that illustrate this? Hannah calls the change in the Minnesota law regarding midwifery shortly after her arrest a coincidence. How does social change happens?