I really enjoyed reading this book. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is a bit of a cult classic among birth professionals (along with her first book, Spiritual Midwifery, which I have not yet read). Ina May Gaskin is widely considered the godmother of modern midwifery in the US. She runs a birth-centered community called The Farm in Tennessee and travels to teach around the world. She is a pretty cool chic with LOADS of birthing experience.
This book is full of gems, but I consider its most valuable contribution to be the first half of the book. The entire first section is dedicated to recounting positive birth stories. Women report their own experiences, struggles, triumphs, and revelations while the midwives provide their perspective on the situation. It is such a fabulous journey to read the variety of versions of normal. It will expand your view on birth and delivery. In our modern-day culture, we have become disconnected from a normal birth experience. Most of us have also isolated ourselves and the matters of birth and pregnancy have become very private. When we don’t attend births regularly (or ever) and we aren’t surrounded and supported by the women of our families sharing their (positive) experiences, it is very difficult to develop a realistic idea of what your baby’s birth-day is going to look like. This issue is certainly not ameliorated by the impressions of labour that are depicted on TV. Oh no, her water broke, let’s rush to the hospital and scream really loud. But don’t worry, it’ll all be over in 30 seconds… yeah right.
The second half of the book explores the many different choices that you will come up against while preparing for your big day. I think that it is good for women to read through all these different options, from Caesarean sections to pitocin to cord clamping, so that they can initiate a conversation with their partner and make their own educated decisions.
Personally, I’m glad I red this book now. I think that it is a good book to read as you are preparing to make a baby (which is the phase that this blog/I am currently in – the pre-conception phase). I plan on going back and revisiting all those positive birth stories again when I am pregnant. I will probably read the whole book over again, but I understand that for some women, exploring all the potential pitfalls might not be the best focus for their energy.
Bottom line, I would definitely recommend this book. If you are one of the many pregnant women (or pre-pregnant women) who tend toward fear of the unknown and all the possibilities make you anxious, then read the first half of this book. You might want to leave it at just that, but go back, revisit, and meditate on the birth stories throughout your pregnancy to keep you mind (& your cervix) open and your thoughts and intentions positive. It was reading this book that inspired me to start adding some positive birth stories to this blog. If you want to check out our first wonderful birth story, you can read Lynnzi’s experience here.