I wanted to share some information about Polly Block, a more recent LDS midwife. I had the privilege of connecting with her daughter, Jeanette, who provided me with this background information about her. She also kindly wrote about her mother’s life of service in the church. What a treasure to have this information. Thank you Jeanette! If you would like to contact Jeanette about ordering a copy of Polly’s Birth Book you can go to their Facebook page. Polly’s Birth Book is a nice addition to your emergency preparedness library. Tune in tomorrow for part 2 of this post. –Robyn
Polly Block is a world renowned and highly respected midwife. Midwives from all over the United States and worldwide frequently seek her counsel in midwifery (natural childbirth) & pregnancy, because of her broad experience with special birthing techniques. Polly was invited by a scholar from a national foundation to assist in research on birthing customs in different cultures. Home obligations prevented her from accepting this honor.
Polly’s special interest has been the effect of herbs on pregnancy, labor, and delivery of birthing mothers. She has also developed an extensive home nursing file in natural childbirth and midwifery skills, which stresses diet, massage therapy, natural food supplements, and advanced first aid techniques as the basis for preventive health care and home preparedness. Polly has often been invited to share her data with leading researchers and practitioners, as well as midwifery schools in the field of home birth, natural childbirth and midwifery.
Polly was guest speaker at University seminars on childbirth and midwifery. She taught six-day training classes in midwifery in many of the states. Polly participated in the Carol Sakala research, reported in Content of Care by Independent Midwives, published in the Social Science & Medicine Journal, printed in Great Britain in 1988. She was asked to donate six weeks of training to a newly developed program, The Russian Birth Project, in St. Petersburg, Russia, wherein three of the nineteen maternity hospitals were being devoted to the training of midwives. Polly did not attend, but both Polly’s Birth Book and A Superior Alternative, Childbirth at Home were used.
At retirement, the author was a great grandmother, and spent a lot of time writing good family reading materials to “help raise” some of the many children she helped bring into the world. Her sixteen titles and Polly’s Birth Book speak for her. All of Polly’s birth books, A Superior Alternative Childbirth at Home, Aaron your Awesome and other writings of her writings are paperback and very affordable.
In 1988 the Utah County Sheriff’s Emergency Preparedness Department asked Polly Block to enroll as an Emergency Midwife in the event of a natural disaster. Polly was also asked to prepare the Emergency Childbirth Handout issued from their office for the public.
It is a well-known fact that in disaster situations triage rules the day! This means that women will be told to stay home or go elsewhere to deliver their babies because childbirth is not a life threatening emergency! Rightly, the Sheriff’s office wanted to help the layman to become prepared to assist a mother in natural childbirth. While Polly’s Birth Book alone lacks the element of hand-on experience for the reader, nevertheless it is by far the most sought after childbirth “how-to”.
In the words of her daughter, Jeanette:
She was a convert from the Bible belt. After her conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saint she served two full time missions. After her missions she met my father, and then introduced him to the “singing mothers? (Today this is the female part of the Mormon Tabernacle choir.) He felt it was the most beautiful thing he ever heard and there they fell in love. But she would not marry him until he had chosen, of his own free will, to become LDS. He was due to go back into the services and could not live any longer without her…. so … he was baptized in the Jordan river in Lehi, Utah. (I remember he always thought it was so special that Christ was baptized in River Jordan and he was in the Jordan river.)
While he was gone, she continued and hungered for more about the Lord and the gospel. She actually was the oldest person in the seminary class that she enrolled in. However, she didn’t care and was soooo happy and grateful to have the opportunity to have it.
She got her degree in personology. When my father returned, she had four miscarriages, so she started learning how to prevent such a tragedy from happening again and became an herbalist. She then had four children.
During this time she was a writer. She published, off the top of my head, I want to say 27 times. Her works were varied, anywhere from the most fabulous children stories, pioneer stories, family history, to Aaron’s accident (all of which are for sale). She also kept avid journals as they are the record in heaven.
She always remembered that if she did the Lords bidding she would be OK. “Remember the Lords simple love, He loves us …. simply because we ARE. He sent us down here to gain a body and to learn.” This she did willingly while learning all she could.
She really did put 110% into what she did. That was until she started midwifery, then it turned 160% after a tragedy in our town … a newborn was found in a dumpster. This just devastated her. I was about 10 at the time and I remember her saying, “This is such horrendous thing happening to these little innocent, sweet spirits, abortions, and now this! I need to help the Lord to bring these sweet spirits to this earth as safely and a healthy as I can, and as inexpensively as possible, after all these years, I feel this is my calling in life.”
She then wrote A Superior Alternative, Childbirth At Home. I guess we were at that age where my little brother, Aaron (4 years younger), and I were… uh shall we say “demanding” of her attention, and it drug out the process of the book. So she made arrangements for a “nanny”, locked herself in the remodeled garage for what seemed forever (it wasn’t really, it just seemed forever) and there Polly’s Birth Book was born.
She lectured many seminars on birthing during and after she retired actual birthing babies (except for mine).
She supported a long journey with my father through the Boy Scouts of America, 62 years, until my father’s death. In fact, twenty minutes after his passing, we received a phone call to see if they could have an eagle interview with him. She even designed many of the patches for the BSA.
About six months before she passed away the Russian government contacted her and said they would take care of all her needs, medical and housing, if she would just come teach their people HOW to birth their babies as their mortality rate was sooo bad. (Now Russia will not allow adoptions out of their country.) She was ready to go. I gently sat down and said, “Mother, it’s a red country, a third world country, they don’t have the medical help you need, and you’re diabetic and quite simply … we will never see you again , they will keep you there cause you are helping them so well.” She replied,” that’s OK dear, I’ll see you again in the next life. You will always know I am there.” (AND SHE IS) I SMILED SOFTLY AND SAID,” Mother, kindly call them back, tell them thank you for the honor and invitation, BUT your daughter said you couldn’t go …. and send them books…..so she did….
She loved the Lord and it shows in her writing. The very best advice she gave was to utilize the Lord and the Priesthood, pray often AND stop and listen and feel his guidance.
SHE WAS A PREPPER! She thought of so much more than the norm thought to prepare for … lol. She just didn’t get her fallout shelter.
She prepped right down to a wood burning stove and a ton of coal…. that is as beautiful today as the day she put it in the ground…40 yrs ago/ lol I remember my father came home from Geneva Steel and there is this huge square hole dug very nicely and a very heavy gage black plastic laying nicely in the bottom overlapping the outskirts of the hole by about 3 feet. OHHHHHH BUDDY! WAS HE MAD! “YOU HAVE GONE TOO FAR YOU HAVE TORN UP MY GRASS! IT WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.” She simply said, “I have got it all planned out very carefully, and you will have your grass back, it won’t go bad, and easy to get to when we need it, BUT when the Prophet said to get prepared, I took him for his word and as she raised her eyebrow, and said and if you don’t like it then you are just going to have to look the other way.” He said nothing as he really loved the fact that she would be taking care of their family way after they were gone. And really, he took joy in huge gardens, bottling, pigs, rabbits, chickens, and prepping himself. And I know they are proud of me and my husband as we take up where they left off.
OH BY THE WAY she folded the outskirts of plastic over the top of the coal then had another sheet of the plastic over the top and tucked way down the sides so that water will pass by.
She was sharp as a tack and was reading stories to her grandchildren right up to a few hours before she died with grace and honor. I am blessed and honored myself to have her stories still so close to me as they have truly taught me the plan of salvation. I love them.
Polly spent her life dedicated to helping, uplifting and educating in the field of midwifery and emergency preparedness bringing children into this world as safely and affordable as possible, through midwifery and training midwives.
“Healthy children should not only be born to the rich.”
We will miss her as she has returned home to her sweetheart and Father in Heaven in November of 2007. It is my intention to keep her legacy by helping to the best of my ability and keeping her midwifery books in print, available and affordable.