- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Seven Stories Press; 1 edition (March 22, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1583229272
- ISBN-13: 978-1583229279
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta Paperback – March 22, 2011
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"A stand-out by Ina May Gaskin...elegantly covers the normalcy and power of birth, includes birth stories, and makes sound arguments for more support and less intervention. An essential acquisition."—Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Ina May Gaskin is such an important figure in the effort to bring a more kind birthing process back into the mainstream, so check out her book if you'd like to learn more about having a blissful, powerful birthing experience." —Alicia Silverstone, The Kind Life
About the Author
Called "the mother of authentic midwifery," INA MAY GASKIN has practiced for nearly forty years at The Farm Midwifery Center, which is noted for its low rates of intervention, morbidity and mortality. She is the only midwife for whom an obstetric maneuver has been named (the Gaskin maneuver). She lives in Tennessee.
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Top customer reviews
Another reason this book would be of interest to a general adult audience is that Gaskin examines the politics of childbirth. Even though I grew up during the women's movement of the 70s, I was not aware of how negatively pregnancy and birth were viewed by many of the movement's early leaders nor how this negativity may have influenced a generation of young women. As a business person in the 80s and 90s, I did watch childbirth become an important loss-leader and/or profit center for many hospitals and saw the rise and fall of all the birth centers in my community, as well as the opening and closing of the nurse midwife program at the state university. I understood the profit/loss and cost containment principles at work, but not the larger societal impacts these changes would cause. Gaskin makes a strong case for continued consumer support for midwives and birth centers, for the good of women and society, for better health and stronger communities. Perhaps healthcare reform will provide some momentum for this trend.
The women's stories included in the book are inspirational. I only wish there were more, or an entire volume of just the birth stories. The personal accounts of joyful, painless or almost painless births were truly eye opening and made the strongest case for natural childbirth. So many women I teach are really terrified of giving birth, even or especially those with prior experience; I wish they all would read some of Gaskin's mothers' stories to learn how empowering and wonderful childbirth can be. I wish I had read them before having children. In fact, Gaskin makes the whole childbirth experience sound so wonderful, it almost makes me want to run out and have a few more babies.
I would highly recommend this book as good reading for anyone, an inspiration for anyone who's pregnant, and a requirement for anyone working in obstetrics, labor and delivery. It only presents one point of view, so it's not the only reading I would recommend, but it should be on every reading list.
There were 50 cesareans out of 2,844 births.
Their practice included women who had breech babies, twins, and VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean, which incidentally had a 96.8% success rate). In general maternity care in the US, these factors classify many women as high risk and often result in automatic c-sections performed by doctors who are unwilling or unable (due to training issues) to attend a vaginal birth attempt. These and other issues have caused the cesarean rate to climb each of the last 13 years to its current 33%.
Many would argue that the numbers from The Farm Midwifery Center cannot be compared to the general U.S. rates. I do understand that the women represented by these numbers opted into this practice. They weren't just `any women'. They embraced the midwifery model of care and were highly motivated to participate in this preventative, wellness model of care. A random pregnant woman off the street may not be in a place emotionally to have this type of birth experience. She may not even desire it. But does she even realize that she has a choice? Does she even realize how possible and safe and rewarding natural birth could be with a different approach to maternity care? If she is giving birth with a typical Obstetric practice, she certainly would not have the type of education and support offered to the women at the Farm.
Of the nearly 3000 women, 98+% gave birth vaginally. Certainly we can't expect every maternity caregiver to start producing these types of results, but doesn't it plant the seed that we could do better? Ina May Gaskin's pioneering efforts show us that it is possible for women to have healthy and empowered births. Her book combines her thoughts on how they were able to achieve these outcomes with inspiring birth stories to provide a hopeful glimpse of what is possible.