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Ina May's Guide to Childbirth Paperback – March 4, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; 1 edition (March 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553381156
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553381153
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (858 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Founding member and former president of the Midwives Alliance of North America and author of Spiritual Midwivery, Gaskin offers encouragement and practical advice in her upbeat and informative book on natural childbirth. Since the mid-1970s, Gaskin and the midwives in her practice on a Summertown, Tenn., commune known as "The Farm," have attended over 2,200 natural births. Gaskin, who learned the rudiments of her gentle birthing technique from the Mayans in Guatemala, has helped bring attention to the method's remarkably low rate of morbidity and medical intervention. Couples considering natural childbirth will get inspirational coaxing from more than a dozen first-person narratives shared by the author's clients. Gaskin decries what she sees as Western medicine's focus on pain during birth, arguing that natural birthing can not only be euphoric and blissful but also orgasmic (a survey of 150 natural birthing women "found thirty-two who reported experiencing at least one orgasmic birth"). The second half of Gaskin's book deals with the practical side of natural birthing, including how to avoid standard medical interventions such as epidurals, episiotomies and even prenatal amniocentesis that may be unnecessary, even dangerous, to mother or child. While this may not be the definitive guide to natural childbirth, it is a comfortable and supportive read for women who want to trust their bodies to do what comes naturally.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Using history as her guide, nationally recognized midwife Gaskin explores what she hopes will be a renaissance in natural childbirth, something that she's been advocating since the mid-1970s. By focusing on how women of ancient civilizations and other modern peoples give birth, Gaskin puts our own hypersensitivities in perspective, uncovering a beautiful, sometimes orgasmic experience rather than a dreadful, painful one. Sure, pain is part of childbirth, but preparing for the pain in a realistic rather than sentimental way--whether giving birth at home or in a hospital--can be the key to a woman's ability to deal with it naturally. Within the pages of personal anecdotes, some touching, some startling, from Gaskin's patients and colleagues, every woman is sure to find something to relate to, whether or not she chooses to have a medicine-free labor. The helpful back matter features a glossary, a detailed resource list including advocacy groups and Web sites, and a bibliography that includes periodicals, rounding out an extremely comprehensive and up-to-date guide on the topic. Mary Frances Wilkens
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Ina May Gaskin is founder and director of the Farm Midwifery Center, located near Summertown, Tennessee. She has lectured all over the world at midwifery conferences and at medical schools, both to students and to faculty. The Farm is noted for its low rates of intervention, morbidity and mortality. Recently selected as a Visiting Fellow at Morse College of Yale University, Ina May also teaches midwifery, writes books and articles for medical journals and edits her quarterly journal, The Birth Gazette.

Customer Reviews

I HIGHLY recommend that all pregnant women read this book.
Channing Quinn Carter
Reading this book will make you feel confident about your body's ability to give birth, as well as positive and excited about the birth experience.
nem
Reading Ina May's book, and the birth stories of the women in it, has changed all of that.
Mayflower Girl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

516 of 537 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 31, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the very few stipulations my wife made after we learned we were going to have a child is that I read this book by the doyenne of natural childbirth in the U.S. While the tone of the book is much too touchy-feely/hippyish for me, I have to admit that it is well worth reading regardless of whether you're planning a natural childbirth or a fully tech'ed out hospital one. That said, it would be very easy to read it as gospel and get swept up in its giddy repudiation of modern medicine, so one should approach it with, if not a skeptical eye, at least with one's critical faculties fully engaged. There is also the potential that readers who are fully committed to a hospital birth may come away from this book feeling scolded, or as if their decision is somehow "wrong".

The author is a superstar in the field of natural childbirth, largely as a result of her 35+ years work at "The Farm", a kind of birthing commune in Tennessee. The first half of the book is a compilation of natural childbirth stories written by mothers who've either done it at The Farm, or somehow in conjunction with the author. While these are certainly useful as illustrative examples of how it all goes down, they tend to get rather repetitive and could certainly stand to be scaled back a bit. And for those who know little about the birthing process, some of the terminology can be unclear. Finally, for those who might want to read this book on the subway (like me), be forewarned that there are some pretty graphic photos of childbirthing in this section.

The second half of the book walks the reader through the entire process, mostly with the aim of explaining why modern medical childbirthing procedures are not based on the mother's health and needs, but are designed for convenience of the medical establishment.
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177 of 190 people found the following review helpful By Mayflower Girl TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 8, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm 17 weeks pregnant, and while I'm overjoyed to be pregnant...I've always been afraid of the pain I'll experience during childbirth. Reading Ina May's book, and the birth stories of the women in it, has changed all of that. I feel that I can handle labor now...and am even toying with the idea of not using drugs. (Prior to this, I used to say that I'd like an epidural plus any other drug they'd give me.) Even if I end up using some pain meds, I know I'll be entering the labor process without the level of fear I had before. That is priceless. This is a must-read for any pregnant woman and her husband...whether or not she wants to have a medicated or non-medicated birth. Bravo Ina May! Just wish I lived closer to TN so that I could use her services.
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272 of 308 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on April 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
Anyone associated with the childbirth genre knows of Ina May, and her many devotees have been waiting a long time for this book. It couldn't have come at a better time, as legions of today's women voluntarily turn to the tricks of modern obstetrics, notably epidemic epidurals.
I'm a retired midwife (and author of Baby Catcher, a modern midwifery memoir), and feel I learned a good bit of my craft by listening to Gaskin speak, visiting The Farm a bazillion years ago, and reading and rereading and rereading Spiritual Midwifery. But much in obstetrics has changed since Spir. Mid. was published; at that time, natural childbirth was all the vogue, and Ina May was sort of preaching to the choir. Now, oh lordy, now things are very, very different. Cesarean rates hover around 25-30% in some hospitals, and the epidural rate is twice that. What are these women thinking??
It was by studying Ina May's 'style' that I realized the power of teaching by parable: the power of story-telling. Women's eyes glaze over when they're lectured to, but their attention is rivited by birth stories. In this Guide to Childbirth, Gaskin deals with the changes in modern OB and offers ways to get around the routines. But she once again relies on her story-telling techniques for getting across her central message: If you're surrounded by people who believe you can do it and who support your own belief that you can do it, then guess what? You can do it.
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61 of 68 people found the following review helpful By J. Wapinski-Mooradian on March 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book helped me change my life.

After the necessary c-section birth of my son 5 years ago (I had pre-eclampsia), our new insurance company labled me as "high risk" and refused me maternity coverage. Since my husband and I wanted more children, I started considering a home birth with a midwife as a viable alternative. Needless to say my first birth experience put me emotionally on guard about my body's capability.

As I was researching the safety of VABCs (vaginal birth after cesarean) and home-births, I came across Gaskin's 1970s book, Spiritual Midwifery. Its language was amusingly "hippy-ish," but the inclusion of positive birth stories was refreshing and inspiring. After reading most of it, I went in search of similar, more updated books.

I found Ina May's Guide to Childbirth at a mainstream bookstore (being suprised at the lack of variety of birth experience offered on the shelf - is she the only person writing about homebirth nowadays?) Buying and reading this book new was one of the best emotional investments I have ever made in my life.

The experience and knowledge I gained reading this book is similar to many of the sentiments expressed in these other reviews. It really gave me courage to welcome and joyfully (if a little nervously) anticipate the birth of my daughter in March of 2005.

As for my labor, I would not call the sensations of the contractions "pain," I would call them "very heavy pressure." I credit this perspective to this book. Ina May (and her clients) helped me put contractions, transition, etc., into perspective. For example: Yes, I felt contractions every two minutes lasting about two minutes.
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