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Spiritual Midwifery 4th Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 201 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1570671043
ISBN-10: 1570671044
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Editorial Reviews


This classic book on home birth is now in it's 4th edition. Includes updated information on the safety of natural childbirth, new birthing stories, and the most recent statistics on births managed by The Farm Midwives. Also presents stories of working with Amish women, showing a different culture with a similar appreciation for natural childbirth.

About the Author

Ina May is one of the founders and the current president of the Midwives' Alliance of North America. She is a powerful advocate for a woman's right to give birth without excessive and unnecessary medical intervention. Her clinical midwifery skills have been developed entirely through independent study and apprenticeship with other midwives around the world. Ina May and fellow Farm midwives were instrumental in the development of the rigorous Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) certification process. In addition to conducting regular midwifery workshops, her speaking engagements take Ina May from Albuquerque to Zurich to Australia.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Book Pub Co; 4 edition (March 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570671044
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570671043
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dr. Sarah J. Buckley on June 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
When I was pregnant with my first baby, what I hungered for were real stories of birth, and especially positive stories, because these are so rare in our medicalised birth culture. My copy of Spiritual Midwifery is a dog-eared third edition, but it's been a great companion to me through the homebirths of my four babies, reassuring and reminding me how simple and ecstatic birth can be.

One reviewer could not believe that all the stories in Spiritual Midwifery could be so positive; I refer her to my article on Ecstatic Birth, which details the scientific evidence for birth ecstasy as our hormonal blueprint for labour, first published by Mothering and expanded for my book "Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: a Doctor's Guide to Natural Birth and Early Parenting Choices". (Read the article on my website [...]) It's the plethora of interventions that make birth unpleasant- and not necessarily safer, as I document

Another reviewer response- Ina May recommends drinking vodka to delay an early labour: IV alcohol was previously widely used in hospital for women going into premature labour, followed by 3 days of whisky 60 ml (2 oz) every 8 hours.

As a family physician, I also have to mention the excellent section, "Instructions to midwives" at the back, with easy to understand explanations and diagrams that I would recommend for any birth attendant; midwife, physician or parents. I also appreciate the sections on stillbirth and difficult births, and of course the gorgeous photos.

Spiritual Midwifery is a book that has stood the test of time, and continues to inspire and inform women and their carers (including myself) about how amazing and ecstatic birth can be, and the respect that we owe birthing families and newborn babies.

PS If you don't like the hippy language, buy Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, which has more contemporary stories and excellent information about modern birth care. Even better, buy them both!
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I think I'm the first _man_ to review this book. In a way that's kind of sad, but hey, I don't mind going first, fellas. Besides, I've reviewed just about everything of Stephen Gaskin's I could find, and it's about time I reviewed Ina May's book.
And here in Ohio we've got a Mennonite midwife named Freida Miller who's doing time in prison. Why? Because she saved the life of a birthing mother by giving her prescription medication without a license. Worse, she's not even in prison for dispensing the meds; she's in prison because she refuses to reveal the name of the doctor who _gave_ her the meds in the first place. This displeases me and causes me to question the legal and pharmaceutical establishments even more than I already did, which is a lot. So consider this review my little blow for the revolution.
Ina May Gaskin wrote the book on midwifery -- four times, in fact, as the fourth edition of the book was published in 2002 and it gets longer every time. The new edition is updated with the usual stuff, including yet more stories from the parents and midwives at the Farm (including some stories from the babies, now all grown up, who were the subjects of the _original_ stories) and a new preface by Ina May. And if you're reading this page, you don't need me to tell you that it's the bible of practical midwifery.
What you may _not_ already know is what a spiritual book it is. Of course the title is _Spiritual Midwifery_, but some readers may be inclined to write that off as hippie jargon. As other reviewers have noted, there is some hippie jargon in the book, but I don't think you should read "around" it or "past" it. You should read _through_ it; it's part of the point.
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I devoured an earlier edition of this book more than a decade before I actually had children, and am enjoying the new "birthing tales" added to the fourth edition. Since my husband was extremely uncomfortable with the prospect of home birth, I gave birth to our three children in hospital, with a wonderful female OB/GYN guiding me through one uncomplicated vaginal delivery; one surprise breech resulting in a C-section; one induced, successful VBAC. The hospital was the right place for me, it turned out. I really believe that the joy of these "birth days" was enhanced by having learned so much from the wisdom of all of the "ladies"--Ina May's down-home term--their husbands, and midwives who contributed their first-person stories to this fine book.

From "Spiritual Midwifery," you'll learn a great deal about your body, your newborn baby, and about the many, many things that can and do comprise pregnancy, labor, delivery, and the postpartum period. Even the very few sad outcomes inspire, and in the least smarmy way possible. I also would call this book appropriate to give to a teenager who is curious about the process of birth.

In retrospect, this fine book beats the unduly jumpy "What To Expect When You're Expecting" by a country mile.
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I'm a student midwife and Ina May is revered in the 'birth world' I exist in. This book is- as the many reviews can attest to- almost a Bible of natural child birth and the regeneration of midwifery practice in the US. My understanding is that I am reading the most current version of this book...

The good: Getting to hear and see pictures of many families who went through their births on the Farm was great. I am very interested in birth stories and the internal mechanisms that women/families use to cope with birth. Also, I very much enjoyed finding several stories about loss and unexpected outcomes. It's wonderful to see these kinds of stories and occurances shared for others to use as a map through a similar circumstance. Sometimes, you've never met anyone who's had a loss. Knowing you're not the only one who's felt the way you do is an amazing comfort. Another positive of this book were the stories about the Amnish women who had Farm midwives attend their births. The cultural differences were really interesting- I wish Ina May would write a whole book about these births!

The bad: Ok, first and foremost, there were several times that INACCURATE information was put forth in this book. At one point, Ina May suggests that a woman 'toughen up' her nipples during pregnancy if they are sensitive to get them ready for nursing. That's just wrong. She also says parents whould use alcohol on a baby's umbilical cord and around the base on the stomach- again, a care method that has been proven to actually increase healing time. Perhaps these things are minor, but honestly, for someone who is so respected- and who many people will look to for definitive information, this kind of thing should be corrected.
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