Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta Info

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Renowned for her practice's exemplary results and low
intervention rates, Ina May Gaskin has gained international notoriety
for promoting natural birth. She is a much-beloved leader of a movement
that seeks to stop the hyper-medicalization of birth—which has
lead to nearly a third of hospital births in America to be cesarean
sections—and renew confidence in a woman's natural ability to
birth.
Upbeat and informative, Gaskin asserts that the way in which
women become mothers is a women's rights issue, and it is perhaps the
act that most powerfully exhibits what it is to be instinctually human.
Birth Matters is a spirited manifesta showing us how to trust women,
value birth, and reconcile modern life with a process as old as our
species.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta:

0

Apr 05, 2011

Of course she makes perfect sense. Ina May is the Mother Teresa of the birth world. Why doesn't everyone else "get it". Women, we need to take back our birth !!
4

Aug 11, 2011

This book is Ina May Gaskin's "Manifesta." I picked it up after hearing her on the Diane Rehm Show. Although it is very pro-midwife/anti-hospital, it is more about how we need to reform the maternity system in our country. She delves into how we should be compensating OBs and how we need to overhaul how Maternal Deaths are recorded so we can get an accurate idea of why we have such a poor record of mother/baby deaths compared to other industrialized countries. She does a nice job of showing the This book is Ina May Gaskin's "Manifesta." I picked it up after hearing her on the Diane Rehm Show. Although it is very pro-midwife/anti-hospital, it is more about how we need to reform the maternity system in our country. She delves into how we should be compensating OBs and how we need to overhaul how Maternal Deaths are recorded so we can get an accurate idea of why we have such a poor record of mother/baby deaths compared to other industrialized countries. She does a nice job of showing the problem, but she draws a very clear picture of what needs to be done to get us on the right track. This is the first book I have read of hers, but I loved the way it empowers women and will be reading more.
...more
5

Mar 24, 2019

Ina May Gaskin, patron saint of birth! She is the midwife America needs. This little book is in her customary fiery but loving style: a series of chapters on her most strongly held convictions around birth and maternity care, closing with cogent, practical recommendations for how women can be better cared forand respected and trustedin pregnancy and delivery. Ina May Gaskin, patron saint of birth! She is the midwife America needs. This little book is in her customary fiery but loving style: a series of chapters on her most strongly held convictions around birth and maternity care, closing with cogent, practical recommendations for how women can be better cared for—and respected and trusted—in pregnancy and delivery. ...more
4

Jun 30, 2016

Such an empowering and informative book to read during pregnancy!
4

Nov 10, 2011

I picked this up because I just heard Ms Gaskin come to speak at the hospital where I work. Looking forward to reading more of her work!
4

Sep 08, 2014

All people should be exposed to the concept that Birth Matters, women matter, and unhealthy maternity care practices lead to more maternal death. Ina May Gaskin does a wonderful job presenting these topics in her latest book. It is simply wrong that the US has such high cesarean rates. Frankly, the US is a dangerous place to have a baby. Ina May does a beautiful job of explaining the problem and giving practical solutions. Change is possible but it takes effort. I highly recommend this book. It All people should be exposed to the concept that Birth Matters, women matter, and unhealthy maternity care practices lead to more maternal death. Ina May Gaskin does a wonderful job presenting these topics in her latest book. It is simply wrong that the US has such high cesarean rates. Frankly, the US is a dangerous place to have a baby. Ina May does a beautiful job of explaining the problem and giving practical solutions. Change is possible but it takes effort. I highly recommend this book. It is not a complex read and one that any person could understand. The subject matter is heavy but Ina May keeps it light and hopeful.

I gave this book four stars because, as usual, Ina May has moral, philosophical, and intellectual schizophrenia. On the one hand, she wants women and babies to be treated with respect and the best care to lower rates of death and then she advocates for the smallest lives to not be given this same care because she believes in safe access to abortion. As usual, eat the meat and leave the bones. ...more
5

May 03, 2011

Ina May is passionate about birth. She also probably knows more about *normal* birth than any living soul. I've just realized though, that she's leaning towards a place of "legislate this, legislate that." It's completely understandable: not only are birth practices these days NOT evidence-based, but they're dangerous, and she's spent her entire life trying to support and educate women AND doctors about the wonder and power and safety of normal birth (and the dangers of typical hospital birth), Ina May is passionate about birth. She also probably knows more about *normal* birth than any living soul. I've just realized though, that she's leaning towards a place of "legislate this, legislate that." It's completely understandable: not only are birth practices these days NOT evidence-based, but they're dangerous, and she's spent her entire life trying to support and educate women AND doctors about the wonder and power and safety of normal birth (and the dangers of typical hospital birth), and no one is listening.

I can get behind the legislation of assessing and recording maternal deaths. Such an untold travesty that women die more than is necessary due to birth in "developed" countries like the USA these days, but that there is no reliable system for recognizing causes and recording actual numbers?!

Her "Vision for the Future," chapter 8, is impressive in its scope. I don't see it happening anytime soon, sadly. It illustrates, to me, the importance of each of us engaging in kind, thoughtful dialogue with those around us on the issues we hold dear to our hearts. That's where change occurs, in individuals who consider a new point of view because a brave friend showed them a new idea. ...more
3

Sep 26, 2012

(I originally wrote this review for Elevate Difference)

When I saw Birth Matters by famed midwife Ina May Gaskin, I jumped at the opportunity to read and review it. Gaskin has contributed to the field of midwifery and childbirth education in vast and meaningful ways. She serves as an icon for many, and I, for one, was eager to learn what she had to say in this new book.

Having already read extensively on the subject of pregnancy, labor, and birth, I found that Gaskins book did not reveal anything (I originally wrote this review for Elevate Difference)

When I saw Birth Matters by famed midwife Ina May Gaskin, I jumped at the opportunity to read and review it. Gaskin has contributed to the field of midwifery and childbirth education in vast and meaningful ways. She serves as an icon for many, and I, for one, was eager to learn what she had to say in this new book.

Having already read extensively on the subject of pregnancy, labor, and birth, I found that Gaskin’s book did not reveal anything completely new. However, where other authors have had to rely mostly on secondhand knowledge and data collected elsewhere, Gaskin was able to insert personal stories and years of experience into her writing. This obviously added quite a bit of authority to what she had to say.

Besides the strength in her convictions, Gaskin brought to her writing a powerful feminist stance and a tremendous feeling of sisterhood. She does not only claim to believe in women; she lives this message. Her unwavering trust in women’s bodies and capacities to make the right choices for them based on unbiased, accurate information felt every bit as empowering as I’m sure she meant it.

The issue at hand, however, is that women in the United States today are being fed a host of half-truths and even outright lies that directly affect their decision-making when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. For instance, Caesarean sections are being promoted as easier, pain-free means of giving birth. But are they really? How come we rarely hear about the risk factors involved in this serious abdominal surgical procedure? Why is it that the United States has higher infant and maternal mortality rates than other developed countries?

According to Gaskin, Americans are relying too much on modern technologies and not enough on the wisdom passed down through generations or the innate knowledge that women’s bodies have about giving birth. Instead of fetoscopes, there is a higher reliance on electronic fetal monitors. Rather than allowing the baby to emerge in its own time, medical professionals are utilizing Cytotec to induce labor even though the drug is not FDA-approved for this purpose. Some feminists believe that reproductive technologies will help even the playing field, or even erase biological differences that could potentially hold them back in the fight for equality. For Gaskin, this perspective fails to see the beauty and strength that a birthing woman exudes, not to mention the natural mechanisms that are in place to assist a laboring woman during this life-changing time.

Besides the wealth of information that Gaskin provides, the parts of Birth Matters that touched me most were the birth stories that were interspersed throughout. Each account shares extensive detail about the mother’s sensations during the entire process of labor and delivery. I couldn't help but tear up as I read them because they captured so much warmth, power, and love. In the end, it is exactly this that Gaskin wants to share with the world. ...more
3

Apr 06, 2014

I believe Gaskin has written other books that address home birth specifically, this book seemed to be more of a last hurrah toward addressing home birth, women's rights, second-wave feminism, and problems in the way the US treats birth choice.

There was an ample amount of feminism (as even the title suggests) but it was refreshing to see someone who advocated women being women and not treating childbirth as a form of slavery. I appreciated her stance that it is a natural process and find it very I believe Gaskin has written other books that address home birth specifically, this book seemed to be more of a last hurrah toward addressing home birth, women's rights, second-wave feminism, and problems in the way the US treats birth choice.

There was an ample amount of feminism (as even the title suggests) but it was refreshing to see someone who advocated women being women and not treating childbirth as a form of slavery. I appreciated her stance that it is a natural process and find it very unfortunate that it has become increasingly medicalized, to the point where it is often treated as surgery. With rates of C-sections rising (and alarmingly, most of them occurring between 5pm and 6pm, when the doctor wishes to go home), I do believe that people need to be informed that there are risks and that it doesn't need to be this way. Even more alarming is that most obstetricians or nurses have apparently never witnessed a live birth before beginning their career. The time of apprenticeship and learning through experience has been ditched in favor of textbook learning and being under instructors who themselves may never have witnessed such a thing.

I was surprised to find out that a good portion of Europe is not like the States. C-section rates are dramatically lower and midwives (though the term may have a different connotation there) are accepted medically, sometimes to the point where insurance assumes one will use a midwife and a obstetrician is not covered.

There were lots of good things in the book, informing the choice of where to have one's baby and the risks involved. As I expected, home births have less risk than hospital births (though there could be many factors involved, including less at-risk women choosing home births). Hospital births are in a sterile, unfamiliar environment, with strangers (who are replaced by more strangers when their shift ends), monitors, uncomfortable positions, bright lights, rote probing, it's no wonder that it can be a very stressful time. Home births can certainly still be painful but have the potential to be much less stressful. For example, I am confident that our first child would have been a Caesarian if we had gone to the hospital first. Hospitals, though sterilized as much as possible, also have the potential to introduce sicknesses or germs not familiar to the mother and baby. A home environment actually tends to have less sickness, possibly because the family is already used to what they are exposed to.

So there were many good things in the book, but I would take many of the statistics with a grain of salt and it is not from a Christian world-view. Correlation does not equal causation and there may be many, many factors that account for differences in home vs hospital birth. I do wish regulations would relax so that informed people could have a choice. The book was good and I would recommend at least the first half for people considering home birth as an option. The latter half tended to be more political, or more of a "manifesta" concerning the midwifery movement. ...more
4

Mar 15, 2018

Fantastic! Ina May Gaskin motivates me with her vision, she's so inspiring!
5

Oct 07, 2018

This really helped me understand the midwifery model of care. Inas knowledge and perspective is just as inspiring and empowering as everyone says it is!! So glad I read this! This really helped me understand the midwifery model of care. Ina’s knowledge and perspective is just as inspiring and empowering as everyone says it is!! So glad I read this! ...more
5

Nov 21, 2017

I couldn't put this book down. It reignited my inner spark for my passion for midwifery and gave me the boost that my career needed.
5

Jan 16, 2018

This book was outstanding - highly recommend to ANYONE. This information is so valuable and not taught enough.
4

Mar 11, 2019

A good reminder that a lot of the culture of birth in the U.S. is about fear of the process. An alternative look at birth, the wisdom of our bodies, and the power women have.
5

Apr 02, 2018

Ina May is a badass. I loved what she had to say about men and birth.
5

Jan 16, 2020

Required reading for all. This book is that good! It's a good intro. or summary on the subject of birthing and a roadmap for us humans to come together and secure more rights for mothers. This book leaves the reader ready to go and act for the good of women, babies, and men.
4

Mar 12, 2018

Read in last few days of pregnancy, not a great one for prepping for pregnancy, more about the trials of women and the fight by Ina may gaskin for what she believes is right in America and the terrible current standards. Interesting read but no need to read again.
5

Sep 18, 2017

The content was getting better and better as I read it through. I did not know the consequence of breast augmentation surgery, which has a risk for leakage into breast milk. There are so many social issues to be addressed such as maternal mortality at hospital delivery. It is highly informative!!
3

Jan 16, 2020

Im an Ina May super fan, but I gotta say her Guide to Childbirth is the better read. Birth Matters felt pessimistic. I think the glut of birth stories in her other book help better balance any of the negative (albeit accurate) takes on current birth culture. I’m an Ina May super fan, but I gotta say her Guide to Childbirth is the better read. Birth Matters felt pessimistic. I think the glut of birth stories in her other book help better balance any of the negative (albeit accurate) takes on current birth culture. ...more
4

Sep 20, 2017

Nice "modern" updated conversation about childbirth issues with the legendary Ina May. Not my favorite of her books, but a rockin' solid. I especially appreciated her call for unity on one non-divisive issue: tracking maternal deaths in our country so we can learn from it. My fav part of the book was Ani's intro.
5

Jun 15, 2019

Amazing! Learned so much from this book, and so thankful for Ina May's passion for mothers and babies, and the need for a change in how we view birth. Made me appreciate the role midwives have played over the years and made me thankful that good changes are being made more and more as the years go by. Love this book!!!
3

Aug 02, 2018

Overall this book was informative, enlightening and wonderful. There were sections that read more like a textbook that were harder to get through (which is the only reason it isnt 4 stars for me). I would still recommend to any pregnant woman to get one side of the story in their journey to find what is best for them. Her first book was ground breaking for me last pregnancy and this one just helped me understand more of myself. Overall this book was informative, enlightening and wonderful. There were sections that read more like a textbook that were harder to get through (which is the only reason it isn’t 4 stars for me). I would still recommend to any pregnant woman to get one side of the story in their journey to find what is best for them. Her first book was ground breaking for me last pregnancy and this one just helped me understand more of myself. ...more
5

Nov 15, 2018

For anyone interested in having kids in the future. Both men and women could equally benefit. Keep an open mind, and enjoy this woman's work based on decades of personal experience and research in the area of maternal care based on women's and babies' true needs. Full of statistics, for those critical and analytical thinkers out there. At certain points, I did feel that anecdotes were still slightly lacking details (less than 10% of the time), this may have been done to protect privacy.

Slightly For anyone interested in having kids in the future. Both men and women could equally benefit. Keep an open mind, and enjoy this woman's work based on decades of personal experience and research in the area of maternal care based on women's and babies' true needs. Full of statistics, for those critical and analytical thinkers out there. At certain points, I did feel that anecdotes were still slightly lacking details (less than 10% of the time), this may have been done to protect privacy.

Slightly humurous, I really like Ina May's style of writing, too. ...more
4

Jan 04, 2020

Thank fuck for Ina May Gaskin.

Giving birth is a human rights issue and Birth Matter is both your cheerleader and advocater in world of increased intervention and obstetric violence. If you're interested in the politics surrounding pregnancy and birth, are struggling with a patriarchal medical system where you don't feel listened to, are made to feel powerless, or have medical trauma, this is an incredibly powerful read. This book is a much more modernised version of Spiritual Midwifery and it Thank fuck for Ina May Gaskin.

Giving birth is a human rights issue and Birth Matter is both your cheerleader and advocater in world of increased intervention and obstetric violence. If you're interested in the politics surrounding pregnancy and birth, are struggling with a patriarchal medical system where you don't feel listened to, are made to feel powerless, or have medical trauma, this is an incredibly powerful read. This book is a much more modernised version of Spiritual Midwifery and it really helps women to bring their power back to giving birth, no matter how and where you give birth. ...more
4

Jul 11, 2017

Overall this manifesta confirms my feminist gut feeling that birth should be empowering to a woman, as it is the most sincere manifestation of her divine bodily nature. Putting the whole hospitalised pathology of being pregnant into the perspective of patriarchal power struggle even tracing it back to the times of witch hunt makes her point all the more clear: Birth Matters! The art of midwifery is not extinct and is here to remind us of our most innate capacity as a woman. Although clearly Overall this manifesta confirms my feminist gut feeling that birth should be empowering to a woman, as it is the most sincere manifestation of her divine bodily nature. Putting the whole hospitalised pathology of being pregnant into the perspective of patriarchal power struggle – even tracing it back to the times of witch hunt – makes her point all the more clear: Birth Matters! The art of midwifery is not extinct and is here to remind us of our most innate capacity as a woman. Although clearly set in the US (and packed with statistics on drug prone hospital births), Ina may Gaskin’s arguments will resonate with any woman craving for realness and pureness. Just as the birth of a miracle should be. ...more

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