So, I’m a little biased. I love Ina May Gaskin. I love everything that she teaches and stands for. Reading her complete guide to childbirth (book report to come) is what really sealed the deal about natural childbirth to me. She doesn’t sugar coat anything-she is SO real and so in tune with the “sacrament of birth” as she calls it and I just love her. This book is incredible. It is totally hippie and real life and I love reading the birth stories.
The first half of the book is stories about births on the farm in the early days, including when they were first starting out and still living on buses. The stories are from the points of views of the mothers, fathers and midwives that helped delivered, and I love that you get the whole story from everybody, especially the fathers! Several of them have old, blurry black and white photographs to accompany the story and it’s fun to see all the beards and long hair (these were hippies for reals).
Favorite Quote from one of the Mothers: “This will make a better memory than experience.” (after a long labor). Another Mother wrote of her natural birth: “It was the most conscious-expanding experience I have ever had.” I love how real these women are in describing their experiences because I’ve read too much that sugarcoats the entire thing and then tries guilt tactics in the end if you don’t succeed-you will find none of this in Spiritual Midwifery!! These women and their experiences are real and they want you to know that and that you can have these same experiences too!
The second section of the book is to the parents, and is a comprehensive guide to pregnancy and birth. It covers everything from nutrition to emotional preparedness and is really everything you could possibly need to know while pregnant. She has a page in this section on pg 234 that is Advice for the Mother at the Time of Birth and it stuck out to me as some of the most realistic and useful advice you could every receive as an expecting mother. She talks about channeling your life forces, keeping your mouth, jaw, and neck relaxed during contractions (open throat, open cervix), talking nice, feeling loving, keeping your sense of humor and trusting that your monkey self knows what to do. These are such key things to having an enjoyable natural childbirth and not things your typical OB is going to review at your monthly checkups!
The next section is You and Your Baby and covers basic baby childcare, breastfeeding and bonding. Once again she writes about so many things that your typical Pediatrician isn’t going to cover. She talks about the language of touch, the look and sound and feel of a hungry baby, how to sooth and comfort, dealing with breastfeeding hurdles, and even dealing with loss. It is so comprehensive in only a small amount of pages.
The next section is my favorite-the Instructions to Midwives. Here she full on teaches you how to deliver a baby, but not before preparing yourself spiritually. There are 4 short pages on how to be a spiritual midwife and the mental and emotional place that you need to be in in order to achieve that zen and I absolutely love everything she has to say.
In Zen Buddhism, they talk about your “original face.” The Zen Master might say to a student: “Show me your original face.” A midwife is an especially privileged person because she gets to see the original face of each child she helps to birth. The beauty and purity of the energy field that radiates from each child treated with proper respect is awesome and unforgettable.
In the most readable terms ever after that she proceeds to instruct how to deliver babies in all situations that may arise. The book includes drawing, pictures, charts and the like to assist in your study. She covers when and how to use pitocin, episiotomies (if they’re ever necessary) and an entire host of reasons to transport (all things you wouldn’t immediately expect from a book about spiritual midwifery). It is truly comprehensive and remarkable.
Lastly, her amazing stats. It’s awfully hard to argue with someone so well respected by both the midwifery and medical community that has such amazing statistics to show for herself. You can see the Farm’s stats here. Check it out-seriously!
Annndd…so excited, a new documentary has just come out about Ina May and her work on the Farm! Check it out here.
I have Spiritual Midwifery listed in my Amazon favorites over on my sidebar-its a great read if you’re pregnant or thinking about it! Check it out!