Ina May's Guide to Childbirth Info

Which weight loss plan works best? What are the best books on health and nutrition - What is the best free weight loss app? Discover the best Health, Fitness & Dieting books and ebooks. Check our what others have to say about Ina May Gaskin books. Read over #reviewcount# reviews on Ina May's Guide to Childbirth before downloading. Read&Download Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin Online


What you need to know to have the best birth experience for you.
Drawing upon her thirty-plus years of experience, Ina May Gaskin, the
nation’s leading midwife, shares the benefits and joys of natural
childbirth by showing women how to trust in the ancient wisdom of their
bodies for a healthy and fulfilling birthing experience. Based on the
female-centered Midwifery Model of Care, Ina May’s Guide to
Natural Childbirth
gives expectant mothers comprehensive
information on everything from the all-important mind-body connection to
how to give birth without technological intervention.

/>Filled with inspiring birth stories and practical advice, this
invaluable resource includes:
• Reducing the pain of
labor without drugs--and the miraculous roles touch and massage play
/>• What really happens during labor
• Orgasmic
birth--making birth pleasurable
• Episiotomy--is it really
necessary?
• Common methods of inducing labor--and which to
avoid at all costs
• Tips for maximizing your chances of an
unmedicated labor and birth
• How to avoid postpartum
bleeding--and depression
• The risks of anesthesia and
cesareans--what your doctor
doesn’t necessarily tell you
/>• The best ways to work with doctors and/or birth care
providers
• How to create a safe, comfortable environment for

birth in any setting, including a hospital
• And much
more
Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth
takes the fear out of childbirth by restoring women’s faith in
their own natural power to give birth with more ease, less pain, and
less medical intervention.

Average Ratings and Reviews
review-bg

4.47

18835 Ratings

5

4

3

2

1


Ratings and Reviews From Market


client-img 4.6
1626
159
99
59
40
client-img 4.4
30
37
24
2
0
client-img 4.4
7506
7283
2368
4
1

Reviews for Ina May's Guide to Childbirth:

3

August 20, 2015

1.5 stars for the first half of the book (birth stories), 3.5 for the second half (practical advice)
What it’s about:

Ina May Gaskin is the best-known midwife in all the land. She is, in fact, the only midwife to have a medically-recognized procedure named for her (The Gaskin Maneuver, a technique used to resolve shoulder dystocia).

She’s also—and this should come as no surprise—a HUGE hippie. In the early-‘70s, Gaskin, her husband, and some friends started a commune in rural Tennessee called The Farm. The intentional community brought together non-violent, vegetarian, spiritual people bound by a “shared psychedelic vision.”

The Farm is now well known for its midwifery practice (one of the first out-of-hospital birthing centers in the U.S.). The Farm Midwifery Center’s statistics are pretty astounding. From 1970-2010, the midwives accepted 2,844 pregnant women for care. During that time, they experience no maternal deaths. There were only 148 transports to the hospital and only 50 C-sections.

Gaskin’s book is presented in two parts (followed by a number of Appendices). The first part is a selection of birth stories, told in first person by mothers who delivered at The Farm. They are intended to combat the barrage of negativity that pregnant women hear so often (It’s so painful! You must get an epidural! Why not just schedule a C-section?!) by providing “practical wisdom, information, and inspiration.”

The second part of the book is written by Gaskin and provides practical advice (some opinion-based, some scientifically/medically-based) about labor and delivery. Gaskin condones unmedicated births (unless intervention is medically necessary), and her practices and advice strongly reflect that bent.

Rating: 2.5/5 (for the first half of the book, I would give it a 1.5/5; for the second, a 3.5/5)

For me, this read like two separate books. It was all I could do to get through the first part (the birth stories section). I tried my hardest not to be too judge-y . . . but it’s really difficult when reading passages like this: "On the afternoon before my son, Jon, was born, I was reading Ram Dass’s book Be Here Now and feeling very centered and high with it. I remember I fastened on a particular word and meaning: surrender. I began having contractions and feeling big waves of energy moving. I visualized my yoni as a big, open cave beneath the surface of the ocean, with huge, surging currents sweeping in an out. As the wave of water rushed into my cave, my contraction would grow and swell and fill, reach a full peak, then ebb smoothly back out. I surrendered over and over to the great, oceanic, engulfing waves. It was really delightful—very orgasmic and invigorating."

But wait! That’s not all. A few days after giving birth to Jon, this particular mother went to be with a friend who was “tired and afraid” during birth. Here’s her description: "I wanted to connect deeply with her and share my recent experience to help her relax and open. Pamela was naked, propped up on pillows on the bed, holding on to her knees. I took my clothes off (except for my underpants and pad since I was still bleeding from Jon’s birth) and crawled up on the bed with her. I laid next to her—head to head, breast to breast, womb to womb. I told her about my cave and ocean and the great rushing, swelling, and opening. I told her about surrendering over and over and letting go. We began experiencing her contractions together. We held each other and rushed and soared together. My womb, though empty, was swelling and contracting too. I could feel blood rushing out with the contractions, but not too much—I knew it was okay."

To each her own, I suppose . . . but this is a little much for me. The thought of one of my BFFs coming to be with me during labor, stripping down, and telling me about her oceanic “yoni” while I’m having contractions is, frankly, laughable. Call me unenlightened if you must.

I really could have skipped the first section of this book entirely. But the second section was much more helpful and practical (despite also having a strong hippie vibe). There are drawings (and some very graphic photographs) of birthing positions that use gravity and various other techniques to help get that baby out without the necessity of forceps or vacuum extractors (or c-section, for that matter). There is lots of discussion on “Sphincter Law,” the “set of basic assumptions about birth” that Gaskin and her partners follow: 1) sphincters (excretory, vaginal, and cervical) work best in private, 2) they can’t be opened at will and don’t respond well to commands (like “Push!!!”), 3) when a sphincter is in the process of opening, it may suddenly close if the person “becomes upset, frightened, humiliated, or self-concious,” and 4) if you relax your mouth/jaw, your cervix/vagina/anus are able to open to full capacity. There is an explanation of medical interventions and their pros and cons (mostly cons), as well as non-medical alternatives (like breast stimulation for induction of labor).

Gaskin definitely knows her stuff. And, although her perspective is a little more New Age-y than my own, she provides some good tips for people who are looking to avoid medications (and c-section) during birth. If you fall into that category, this book is worth at least a skim.
2

June 2, 2018

If you want a very natural, non-medical birth, this is for you, if not keep looking...
I bought this book because of the astounding amount of good reviews. Let me first say, that I am not against natural births, at home or in a pool, or whatever, if that is what you want, great! I wanted some information to help me have a natural childbirth in a hospital setting. I have had two children, one that was induced/epidural and one that came naturally without any medications (no meds was more painful, but easier, and is what I want for number three). As I prepare to give birth a third time, I wanted some tips/tools/techniques to help me get through the pain of a natural birth, and was hoping this book would do that. This book is not that. I skipped the entire first half of the book after realizing it is all "positive birth stories" from Ina May's previous patients. I didn't need that.
The second half of the book is less about techniques or tools to help you through, and more about Ina May's personal experiences as a midwife, and different notions about how we think about labor and delivery. Ina May doesn't like the word contraction. She suggests that the pain of childbirth can be pleasurable. She feels things in her vagina as her patients feel things in theirs...Sorry, but I'm not buying that. There seems to be a lot against your typical hospital delivery, and more about convincing yourself to open up/dilate, not to be afraid, positive self talk, there's even talk of masturbation during labor, like monkeys or chimpanzees, to help relax, open up and dilate the cervix.
Sooooo, if you are very natural, and very earthy, and want to have a labor that doesn't feel medical, this book might be right for you. I'm not against that, it's just not what I want. This book was just a bit too natural for my taste. Sorry Ina May. I do respect the work you do and your opinion, but it just wasn't the kind of help I was looking for.
5

Feb 07, 2008

this is a really good book that a patient recommended to me when I told her I was REALLY WORRIED about actually giving birth. I was so scared/freaked-out about the whole labor and delivery thing. she said she felt the same way and had read this book & it made her realize that childbirth is what our bodies are MEANT to do & it made her feel so much better. she also warned me "a lot of it needs to be taken with a grain of salt" and some of it was a little out there (like the orgasmic this is a really good book that a patient recommended to me when I told her I was REALLY WORRIED about actually giving birth. I was so scared/freaked-out about the whole labor and delivery thing. she said she felt the same way and had read this book & it made her realize that childbirth is what our bodies are MEANT to do & it made her feel so much better. she also warned me "a lot of it needs to be taken with a grain of salt" and some of it was a little out there (like the orgasmic delivery experiences)... I have to agree since I lean more towards an OBGYN rather than a midwife or doula, but I LOVED this book & it made me want to go to the birthing center the author runs.

Update in 2012:
I did it. I purposely labored & delivered my 3rd baby without pain meds or epidural! I am now leaning more towards doula/midwife & will definitely go that route with #4. ...more
5

February 12, 2018

Great information about how the body functions during birth, the birth stories are great but a few are very "Earthy"
I loved this book! As a first time mom nervous about childbirth this book gave me so much confidence in my body to do its job. The book is set up in 2 parts: part 1 is just birth stories, part 2 is medical information about birth. The birth stories were wonderful to read. Yes, a few were very "New-Agey" and kind of "hippie" like but just hearing about different women who successfully gave birth was very helpful to combat all the people telling me to just "Get an epidural as soon as you can." and all the horror stories people somehow think are acceptable to tell to a pregnant woman. Not all of the stories are for everyone, but that's okay. Even if you just want to hear some positive birth stories, you will enjoy them. There's a snarky comment about the experience of one woman who went to assist in another's birth and I think it's inappropriate. The women at The Farm (the community that Ina May established for those who wish to pursue natural birth) see the value in helping other women through birth and we as a Western society forget that this used to be the only way women had any assistance during birth before hospitals and OBGYN's. I think it's a beautiful example of how this community functions. You don't have to agree with it, just move on to the next story if it isn't your cup of tea.

The medical information in the second half has helped my confidence immensely in choosing to have a "natural" hospital birth. Keep in mind this is coming from the point of view of a midwife, not a doctor, so it's not going to have the same voice as those in a medical profession. Ina May goes through how the body responds to labor and possible interventions you may see in the hospital. Although she is clearly for having as natural a birth as possible, she definitely gives what I think of as an unbiased view on these things as she can. She defines the interventions for you and tells you possible side effects. She says which ones you can definitely refuse without endangering yourself or your baby if you choose to, but as I read through this I never felt like I would be considered less of a mother if I chose any one of these things. Though she is clearly trying to show you the benefits of using a midwife vs. traditional doctors, she makes intelligent points and is clearly just trying to inform her readers. She also has many many references and resources to back up her claims and the statistics of the midwives she showcases speak for themselves.

I think this is a great book for anyone trying to learn more about the childbirthing process, anyone who is nervous or doubting their ability to do it, or anyone who just wants to know their options in care. I have recommended it to several people and am loaning it to my cousin who is due in March.
3

September 20, 2018

Great guide, but be aware of strong bias
I'm expecting my little girl in about a month and after doing a lot of reading and research have decided to opt for a natural, in-hospital delivery (assuming everything goes more or less according to plan!). I purchased this book after seeing it on basically every must-read list about birth, and for the most part enjoyed it! Some thoughts::

Things I loved
I really loved her empowering stance on labor and delivery. Women, from a young age, are taught (often by other women) to fear childbirth or view it as this necessary evil in order to have a baby. Ina does a great job of encouraging mothers to embrace the wonder of this natural process instead of dreading it for months. She provides great insight into various natural birth techniques, both mental and physical, that will be great to have in my back pocket when the times comes.

What I didn't love
She is hugely biased. I figured she'd be a little granola, so I wasn't surprised by a couple jabs here and there at western medicine, physicians and hospitals, but at a certain point it got to be very obvious and honestly frustrating. Based on my experience and what I know from being friends with a lot of people in healthcare, she's VERY wrong about a lot in terms of delivering in a hospital and the various medical interventions that can happen there. She makes a lot of claims about how a laboring woman will be treated by medical staff or hospital expectations that simply aren't true.

She portrays physicians as soulless machines who don't care about their patients and who will do anything just to make their jobs easier. Are there doctors out there like that - yes, unfortunately - but the vast majority? No way. She fails to mention that midwives can also get in over their heads with complicated deliveries and risk the life of the mother and baby when they choose to avoid the aid of an OB. The idea that every midwife if flawless, but every doctor is selfish, becomes a pretty prominent and, honestly, dangerous theme. As someone who is highly influential in her field, she had an opportunity to show how doctors also come alongside and support their patients desires in labor and delivery and how they partner with midwives frequently, but she instead decided to use, ironically, doctor-led studies to make it sound like your chances of having massive complications or your baby dying are much higher in the hospital than at a birthing center because of modern medical practices.

All that to say, I'm having a hard time finishing this book. As someone who is getting ready to deliver in the hospital (and, who knows, might need a CS or some other medical intervention that would ONLY be done when the risks of not doing it are far more dangerous), her claims about western medicine began to unnecessarily scare me. Had she been more accurate and fair in description modern OB practices, then I'd give this book 5 stars. But her claims could easily sway a woman with fewer resources to make potentially dangerous decisions based on one woman's very biased opinion.

If you do choose to read this book, please be sure to balance its claims out with another perspective. Talk to an OB about the things she says and you'll come out with a far more balanced and accurate picture of labor and delivery. Even if you are planning an at-home or birth center delivery, it's best to be prepared in case your delivery does not go as planned and you do need medical intervention because, yes, that does happen. Midwives bring exhausted, medically complicated laboring women to the emergency room more than she lets on, so I'd highly recommend having a truly accurate idea of hospital care and medical interventions just in case your delivery doesn't go as planned.
4

Sep 26, 2014

This is an essential read if you're pregnant and filled not just with fetus but with a fundamental doubt, as I was, that you're physically or mentally capable of pushing it out at the end. If you're skeptical that you're going to be able to move a small person from one of your internal organs to the world via your vaginal opening, Ina May will clear all that up for you. The birth stories in this book, and Gaskin's explanations of the process, gave me a total confidence in my ability to do this This is an essential read if you're pregnant and filled not just with fetus but with a fundamental doubt, as I was, that you're physically or mentally capable of pushing it out at the end. If you're skeptical that you're going to be able to move a small person from one of your internal organs to the world via your vaginal opening, Ina May will clear all that up for you. The birth stories in this book, and Gaskin's explanations of the process, gave me a total confidence in my ability to do this crazy-sounding thing. By the time I was done, I no longer saw childbirth as a terrifying and improbable medical event akin to removing a highly delicate ship from a design-flawed bottle; instead, I was convinced that childbirth is an awesome natural process, something I was built to do and totally capable of accomplishing.

Huge caveat, though: this book removed my fear of childbirth but gave me a new and overwhelming terror of hospitals. I found this to be true of most natural childbirth books (with some exceptions, including my favorite Birthing from Within): the confidence they gave me in my body's ability to give birth came at the cost of a raging fear of hospitals and "non-natural" childbirth. Ina May made me terrified of mainstream medicine's approach to birth, and the book got hard to read at a certain point because I was like, "Yeah, sure, this birth would be wonderful if I were doing it on Ina May's hippie commune, but since I'm doing it in a shitty Miami hospital those doctors are going to cut me up into pieces and mess up my baby with all kinds of unnecessary and frightening interventions. Eek!" I wound up spending a lot of my pregnancy terrified of what would happen to me at the hospital, and convinced that medical professionals would make traumatic what would otherwise be an awesome and beautiful experience.

In the end (I had my baby two days ago), I think this hysteria about hospitals did ultimately help me. My fear of hospital delivery wound up being productive, and I was extremely lucky to have exactly the birth experience I wanted, because I stayed home until the last possible minute and literally arrived at the hospital at the moment that I had to push. If the natural childbirth books hadn't made me so insanely fearful of what labor in the hospital would be like, I would've gone in earlier and probably wound up taking drugs, which I really didn't want to do. That said, though, there are perfectly valid reasons why some of us do give birth in hospitals, and not all hospital births are the nightmare that natural childbirth books make them out to be. I do definitely recommend this one, but I also recommend reading other books to fill out a more balanced view, unless you are definitely giving birth under the stars on a hippie commune and your chances of winding up in a hospital are extremely low. ...more
1

August 18, 2018

Very outdated and needlessly fear inducing
I bought this book based on the glowing reviews. As a first time mom-to-be I was excited to learn all I could. While I knew I would be having a hospital birth I thought I could still learn a lot. Instead, this book absolutely terrified me for what was to come. I "learned" that hospitals give you episotomies, mandatory IVs and monitors which leave you immobile, enemas, shave you, don't let you eat or drink anything, and push everyone toward epidurals and c-sections. I was so scared for my baby's birth day, because I didn't want ANY of that! And then I took a class run by the hospital and learned that while this may have been true in the 70's and 80's, they DON'T do ANY of these things anymore. The hospital also supports delayed cord clamping for the baby (this is the norm now, not something you even have to ask for), immediate skin to skin contact, delayed bathing (unless you ASK for your baby to be washed right away), breastfeeding, and rooming in with the baby is the norm- my hospital doesn't even HAVE a nursery. They have birthing balls, peanut balls, squat bars, water birth tubs, and even twinkle (Christmas) lights if you ask. They happily work with doulas and midwives. I spent a whole month needlessly terrified for what was to come thanks to this stupid book, thinking all these things were only available on some farm community I could never attend, and instead I was going to be almost tortured in a hospital. If you want to be hopelessly misinformed then this is the book for you. Otherwise, don't read it.
5

May 18, 2017

The ONE book I read during my pregnancy
As someone who reads tons of material on just about any subject, I actually made a decision to stay less informed about my pregnancy and birth. May sound crazy to most but I do believe that our bodies know exactly what to do and it is better to approach pregnancy and birth with intuition rather than with one's brain. We live in a society where we cannot escape information any way, so I am constantly getting inundated with preggo and birth. Plus I have a midwife who makes sure I know what I need to know at each check up.
So I decided to read just ONE book and I chose this one. It was such a good decision – with each story that Ina May shares, I become less scared and more excited about birth. I felt like I learned all I needed to know and to feel empowered about my choices.
Highly Highly recommend it for any expectant mama and her partner.
5

Jan 15, 2009

I just had my monthly midwife appointment and she lent me this awesome book. It's got everything, including a section on orgasmic birth. I find it refreshing to read something so real that attempts to turn our stereotypical hospital birth routine upside-down.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part is a compilation of birth stories from lots and lots of women; many will make you cry with joy. The second part reflects how Ina May's Farm community achieves such low caesarean & I just had my monthly midwife appointment and she lent me this awesome book. It's got everything, including a section on orgasmic birth. I find it refreshing to read something so real that attempts to turn our stereotypical hospital birth routine upside-down.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part is a compilation of birth stories from lots and lots of women; many will make you cry with joy. The second part reflects how Ina May's Farm community achieves such low caesarean & intervention rates ... with common sense, love and support for the laboring woman. It also describes the dangers of artifically induced labors and the scary new practices regarding caesarean births, resulting in more uterine ruptures and hemorrhaging for subsequent pregnancies. There is way more to the pain meds than the general public knows!

Ina May's birthing experiences are invaluable. Her writing style is down to earth, humorous and accessable. I urge everyone to look into this book. I've laughed so hard sharing stories with my husband, I almost wet myself.

I have had a homebirth as well as a nurse-midwife assisted hospital birth. Both were completely natural and very positive experiences. As I am pregnant with my third child, I am planning another homebirth.

There are way too many women who will unquestioningly let doctors have authority over their bodies without doing the necessary research to make informed decisions regarding one of the most important things in their lives...childbirth.

Even if this book is "pro-midwife" or "anti-hospital," how many hundreds of books are out there that completely ignore the points that Ina May raises in this book? It is definitely worth looking into, regardless of your childbirth choices. ...more
4

Mar 11, 2013

Don't be scared away by the hippy-dippiness of this book. I'm glad I wasn't. I read this book with a caveat: read the second section first, then the first section. It made so much sense, I'm not sure why the book wasn't organized that way in the first place.

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is skewed toward natural childbirth and can get a little culty, especially all the stories about The Farm, but I found the information in the second part of the book really helpful even when planning for a Don't be scared away by the hippy-dippiness of this book. I'm glad I wasn't. I read this book with a caveat: read the second section first, then the first section. It made so much sense, I'm not sure why the book wasn't organized that way in the first place.

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is skewed toward natural childbirth and can get a little culty, especially all the stories about The Farm, but I found the information in the second part of the book really helpful even when planning for a hospital birth. The historical and worldwide accounts of birth Gaskin provides is comforting to read about as well as the explanation of the process.

The first part consists of a collection of birth stories from women on The Farm and women who interacted with midwives from The Farm. The second part is informational and describes the biological process more.

It may not be for the squeamish, but if you're going to be popping a baby out of your body one day, it may help to not be too squeamish about these things.

The best thing about this book is that it describes birth as a completely natural thing for a woman's body to do and that it's not at all scary, which is a relief after our culture's fear-mongering around birth. ...more
5

Apr 22, 2018

Invaluable education and resource for the childbirthing experience. A must read.
5

Aug 08, 2009

My daughter's birth was amazing. Labor was not painful-- it was too big for that. More like getting hit by a tsunami, over and over. The whole intense experience was deeply invigorating and actually GAVE me the energy I needed to cope with the first couple of difficult weeks with a new baby.

When I've confessed to other moms that birth was SPECTACULAR, they're incredulous. How can something so painful, so medical, so dangerous be anything somebody could enjoy, especially without any drugs?

Ina My daughter's birth was amazing. Labor was not painful-- it was too big for that. More like getting hit by a tsunami, over and over. The whole intense experience was deeply invigorating and actually GAVE me the energy I needed to cope with the first couple of difficult weeks with a new baby.

When I've confessed to other moms that birth was SPECTACULAR, they're incredulous. How can something so painful, so medical, so dangerous be anything somebody could enjoy, especially without any drugs?

Ina May Gaskin explains-- birth is normal. My challenging but beautiful birth experience has apparently become an exception in this country-- but it doesn't have to be. With an understanding of what our bodies can and are made to do, birth can not only be safe but beautiful.

I would recommend-- no REQUIRE-- this book for anybody who wants to have kids, or who has had kids, or --shoot-- anybody with reproductive parts. Wanna know what they can do given the chance? Here ya go! The collection of honest birth stories and the detailed information about the processes of birth soothe any fears future parents might have.
...more
3

Jul 16, 2008

So, as far as useful information goes, this book pretty much said the same thing as The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, except without the same amount of research backing it up. Still helpful, but not especially new. Plus, she used the terms "Much more likely" or "much less likely" a lot, instead of giving the actual statistics as Goer's book did.
Another downside of this book was that it was a little too "Rah, rah, rah, women's bodies can do anything!!" for my taste. I guess that's So, as far as useful information goes, this book pretty much said the same thing as The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, except without the same amount of research backing it up. Still helpful, but not especially new. Plus, she used the terms "Much more likely" or "much less likely" a lot, instead of giving the actual statistics as Goer's book did.
Another downside of this book was that it was a little too "Rah, rah, rah, women's bodies can do anything!!" for my taste. I guess that's not a really bad thing, because it did pump me up for childbirth, but as Gaskin constantly refers to her experience birthing women on "The Farm" (I can't help but think of it in semi-sarcastic quotation marks), I kept thinking how her sample is made up of very naturalistic, in-touch women (read: hippies) and a woman like myself is likely to have a different experience in childbirth, even given the fact that my body really knows what to do.
My last gripe is that SOME of the things she suggested were a little out-there for me. She shuns prudishness in our culture, and encourages women to make birth (or, rather, allow birth) to be a sexual experience, yet totally respects the fact that most women are too prudish to have a stranger (especially a man) in the birthing room with them, without adverse effects to the progress of labor. So, a little bit of a double standard there. I'm personally on the side of prudishness in all its forms.
All right, those griefs being aired, I actually did like this book, and I'm glad I read it. First of all, the birth experiences at the beginning, while somewhat nauseating, were also very encouraging. They were all so different from the birth stories you normally hear, and it made me happy to know that natural childbirth really can be an extremely positive experience. Giving birth is not something women need to be "saved" from by medical intervention.
There was also a lot of practical midwifery information that I'm glad I read before making my second attempt at a natural childbirth. Things about various laboring positions, tricks to help labor progress, etc. were both interesting and potentially useful.
I was also impressed by the clarity of the writing. Even though Gaskin is clearly on one side of the childbirth debate, she didn't come off sounding like a crazy. I was able to respect her even when (in a few cases) I didn't agree with her.
In general, I think this is a helpful book for all women to read before giving birth. Our culture really does make a medicalized birth seem normal, when in reality, the opposite is true. Still, I would recommend reading Henci Goer's book in conjunction with this for a slightly more even-handed, useful approach to the topic.
...more
1

Apr 22, 2014

Motherhood is Not a Competition: Why Pressure Moms to Strive for the "Perfect" Natural Childbirth (and make them feel guilty if that isn't in the cards)? Now that my youngest (and probably last, alas) son is a year old, I feel like I have enough distance to be able to write this review. My wife and I have two boys: she carried and birthed the oldest; I carried and birthed the youngest. My wife went first for several reasons, not least of which was that I had have a real and irrational fear of Motherhood is Not a Competition: Why Pressure Moms to Strive for the "Perfect" Natural Childbirth (and make them feel guilty if that isn't in the cards)? Now that my youngest (and probably last, alas) son is a year old, I feel like I have enough distance to be able to write this review. My wife and I have two boys: she carried and birthed the oldest; I carried and birthed the youngest. My wife went first for several reasons, not least of which was that I had have a real and irrational fear of childbirth. The hope was that Pelly's birth experience would be smooth, and having observed it, I'd feel better when my turn came around. Knowledge is power, right?
 
Well, it didn't work out that way. Due to complications, Pelly delivered our older son by emergency c-section four weeks early, without experiencing a single contraction. When my turn came around, I still felt woefully unprepared and not a little bit terrified of childbirth. We took the classes, I talked to other moms, I read everything I could get my hands on (including this book), I read a billion birth stories on birthwithoutfear, but in this case, Knowledge was NOT Power. So much of what I read just made me more scared (even though I tried to avoid the triggering stuff, the loss stories, the bad outcomes).
 
Eventually, my wife and my doctor staged an intervention. They told me to throw out my birth plan and put away the books and websites and just let it go. "You want a birth plan? Here's the birth plan: We go to the hospital, and we come out with a healthy baby, and two healthy moms. That's the goal. That's all that matters."
 
But that's crazy! It's too simple! My brain doesn't work that way! What about all the what-ifs and contingencies? I'm a girl who likes to be prepared for any eventuality.
 
"You can't," my doctor said bluntly. "You can be prepared, but you can't be in charge."
 
Long story short (seriously, I just wrote my whole birth saga in 10 long paragraphs and deleted them because this is a BOOK REVIEW), my birth did not go according to plan either. I was put on bed rest at 33 weeks and then delivered by emergency caesarian at 38 weeks. It was not what I wanted. I felt like my body had betrayed me by failing at this most basic task of womanhood, which my female relatives have done countless times without issue. Maybe I was too old. Maybe I'm just a wimp when it comes to pain. Maybe I should have resisted medical interventions for longer. Maybe I should've hired a doula.
 
But when I tried to tell my wife all this, she shook her head. "You followed the birth plan. Healthy baby; two healthy mamas. You're a rock star."
 
It took me a long time to come around to my wife's way of thinking, and to be honest, I have moments when I'm not totally there yet. Here's the thing (and I'm finally getting to the book review part of this review, I promise): Motherhood has become a competitive sport in our culture. We are under enormous pressure to be the Right kind of parents, get our kids into the Right schools and the Right activities, use the Right methods of feeding, weaning, sleep training, discipline, et cetera. The media and social pressure often make it seem like the fate of the world (or at least the future well-being and societal value of our kids) rests on basic parenting decisions like whether or not to use cloth diapers or BPA-free sippy cups. And this insane social pressure on moms begins even before kids are born, in the Natural Childbirth movement that this book represents.
 
Let me be clear. I have nothing against natural childbirth. If it had worked for me, it would have been ideal. I think this book really does aim to give women information and strategies for a positive natural childbirth experience, and it is an unintended consequence (perhaps not even stemming from the book itself, but from other media sources and the natural childbirth movement at large) that women like me end up feeling like our non-natural birth experiences are tainted or less-than, or that we have failed as women and mothers, because we needed a little extra help. The days and weeks following my son's birth should have been the happiest of my life (well, barring the hormones rocking my boat, of course), but instead I had to spend the first year of my baby's life wrestling with guilt and shame and a sense of inadequacy, and that's just stupid.
 
Healthy Babies, Healthy Mamas. That's the bottom line. As long as readers don't lose sight of that, and start viewing doctors as the enemy and medical intervention as failures, this book contains a lot of useful information.
 
  ...more
2

Jan 08, 2009

If you really, really, really want a natural childbirth in a birthing center or at home this is a good book for you. Personally, I will be giving birth in a hospital. This book uses scare tactics to decrease medical intervention. While I agree that it is best to have an uncomplicated, natural vaginal birth, it doesn't always happen that way. Going into it with that specific plan is great, but I think women need to realize it doesn't always work out this way. I plan to go without pain meds for as If you really, really, really want a natural childbirth in a birthing center or at home this is a good book for you. Personally, I will be giving birth in a hospital. This book uses scare tactics to decrease medical intervention. While I agree that it is best to have an uncomplicated, natural vaginal birth, it doesn't always happen that way. Going into it with that specific plan is great, but I think women need to realize it doesn't always work out this way. I plan to go without pain meds for as long as I can but if labor goes on too long, or gets to be too much, or if I have to be induced (which is looking likely) I am open to the meds. Obviously all we all want is the best outcome for mom and baby. I really liked "The Best Birth" better, I felt it grooved w/ my philosophy more. This book does give some good information about helping labor progress and some of what she says makes sense to me. I generally don't like anything that is too biased strongly in one direction or another though. And when it comes to giving birth, I don't know if you can know what to truly expect until you are in the situation. ...more
3

Dec 21, 2013

I felt about this book the same way I do about that $&?!@%# Moosewood Cookbook -- I really ought to love this. (And if one more person tells me how great the Moosewood Cookbook is, I will heave a bag of whole grain flour at her.) I come back to the issue of goodness of fit -- just like one looks for an OB who's a good fit, one looks for a birthing book that's a good fit. Despite what I expected, this isn't really me. I read this over a couple of days. The first day I spent crying because I I felt about this book the same way I do about that $&?!@%# Moosewood Cookbook -- I really ought to love this. (And if one more person tells me how great the Moosewood Cookbook is, I will heave a bag of whole grain flour at her.) I come back to the issue of goodness of fit -- just like one looks for an OB who's a good fit, one looks for a birthing book that's a good fit. Despite what I expected, this isn't really me. I read this over a couple of days. The first day I spent crying because I didn't want to have my baby at a drum circle. The second day, I made up a drinking game -- drink every time there's a picture of a guy with a big 70s mustache. I should reread now that I'm in a position to play.

I think the point is absolutely right: be nice to pregnant women. Support them. Empower them. Don't pathologize pregnancy. Right on.

I think Ina May sounds like an interesting person. I'd read a biography about her.

The book is written with the kind of conviction that can feel, I don't know, maybe condescending? A little like "I have found truth and if this doesn't work for you, it's probably because you're repressed and have been brainwashed by patriarchy and big pharma."

That and the 'stashes aside, I have one big thought and one big objection.

The book makes the assumption that a pregnant woman will feel more comfortable and cared for in the company of other women because her wishes will be respected. Other women bring the benefit of their experience. The solidarity of sisterhood. No shame, no judgement. You do whatever you have to do to birth that baby and its all good and beautiful. OK. But here's the thing -- I wonder sometime how often our deference for what we're told is good for us gets in the way of what really makes us comfortable. I had to make an unexpected trip to the ER early in my pregnancy. The doctor was nice, but he was rough. I didn't like him because my legs weren't shaved and I was cold and because he had two, pretty, tiny nurses (whose legs probably were shaved) stare at me the whole time (I'm sure for our mutual protection, but still), and because he said "now try to relax" which has to be the most useless, most insensitive thing to say, ever (implication: there's something wrong with you if under these oh-so-pleasant circumstances you can't relax), and I wanted to give him a hard kick, pull down my skirt, and go home. But I didn't. Because he was a doctor. Because he was doing his job. Because they've seen it all. Because it's dangerous to care more about propriety than accuracy. Because you really can't make an accurate diagnosis through a sheet. Because caring about modesty in a hospital seems so Victorian and retrograde. My lack of comfort was a sign of progress! In the case of Ina May, I'm a little embarrassed that the whole thing kind of makes my blood run cold. These are my people. Or at least the parents of my people. I should be all over this book. But sometimes I wonder if the message isn't the same, just in a different context. Try to relax. While being stared at by women who smell like patchouli. Because we're all sisters. Because we're empowering your body to do what it does naturally. Because this is so much better than being in a hospital where the repressed, dominated women go. Both environments carry with them a narrative that this is Progress and Better For Me: the first because comfort and prudishness don't get in the way of my health and the second (in the backward looking sense of progress where homemade bread is better than store bought) because I'm empowered and cared for by women who get it. Bleah to them both! I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but it was something I pondered a lot while I was pregnant. My right not to have a drum circle. My right to be repressed. My right to be comfortable. And I guess ultimately my right to control my narrative.

My objection was to the romanticization of midwifery in the past which I think is absolutely bonkers. The power of the all-female birthing chamber is not an adequate compensation for the mortality rates which were beyond dismal. I worried about giving birth - about how long it would take and how much it would hurt and whether or not I would grunt - but I never worried about dying. And I get it - I gave birth circa 2013 with a spa tub and a birthing ball and hypnotic mantras and an anaesthesiologist standing by. Ina May had a different experience. She was reacting against condescending doctors and straps and ether and a lack of choice or voice. Which is still better than bleeding to death.
...more
5

Jan 24, 2016



5 Shining Inspirational Stars
“There is no other organ quite like the uterus. If men had such an organ, they would brag about it. So should we.” I recommend this book to all expectant mothers-to-be. And to everyone else as well. We need to change the view that childbirth is something dangerous and unnatural, and that the only way for women to survive it is to be heavily medicated and close to an emergency room.

This book is the only book you need to read on childbirth. It is filled with positive

5 Shining Inspirational Stars
“There is no other organ quite like the uterus. If men had such an organ, they would brag about it. So should we.” I recommend this book to all expectant mothers-to-be. And to everyone else as well. We need to change the view that childbirth is something dangerous and unnatural, and that the only way for women to survive it is to be heavily medicated and close to an emergency room.

This book is the only book you need to read on childbirth. It is filled with positive birth stories and a lot of facts. For a nerd as myself, I really enjoyed her insight and you cannot help to be incredibly impressed by the track record for Ina May as a midwife.

And with this book, Ina May creates an incredibly empowering book for women.
“Remember this, for it is as true and true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.” ...more
1

November 8, 2017

200 pages of birth stories from the 70s is not ...
200 pages of birth stories from the 70s is not what I was looking for or expecting with this "updated" edition.
2

Dec 19, 2015

I only read the middle section of this book, not the birth stories. I appreciated the positive attitude toward the body and the amazing things it can do if you just let it. However, I think it's a bit out of date, especially in terms of what the hospital will and won't allow (but we'll see).

One tip: the author claims you'll get through your contractions better if you express words of love to your partner during them.

Update: I was right. This book is very anti-hospital, and even though it claims I only read the middle section of this book, not the birth stories. I appreciated the positive attitude toward the body and the amazing things it can do if you just let it. However, I think it's a bit out of date, especially in terms of what the hospital will and won't allow (but we'll see).

One tip: the author claims you'll get through your contractions better if you express words of love to your partner during them.

Update: I was right. This book is very anti-hospital, and even though it claims that fear causes pain, it actually instills fear of the medical system. At least where I live, many of the things this book said you would have to fight for, like skin-on-skin and delayed cord cutting, are standard policy.

Update three years later: I think of this book's discussion of sphincters every time I try to get 30 seconds of privacy to go to the bathroom. ...more
5

March 5, 2018

The Single Most Important Book for Pregnant Moms
The single most important book I've read about childbirth. I've had 4 children and I honestly don't think I would have made it through my very long labors without this book. I bought this as soon as my sister found out she was pregnant. It is not just for natural births - all of my children were born in hospitals but the techniques in this book helped me and my husband stay calm and bond over this most momentous moment in our lives. My husband and I truly went from just happily married to true soul mates after our first child I believe in part to how this book also prepared him for their births.
3

Nov 15, 2012

I have so many conflicting thoughts about this book. This is the fourth book that I've read about childbirth. On the one hand, I have found it to be the most helpful in preparing me for childbirth. On the other hand, there is an obvious bias. While I agreed with much of what the author wrote, there were several parts that really bugged me.

The book starts off with a bunch of birth stories. I was excited to read about birth in a positive light. However, there were several factors that made the I have so many conflicting thoughts about this book. This is the fourth book that I've read about childbirth. On the one hand, I have found it to be the most helpful in preparing me for childbirth. On the other hand, there is an obvious bias. While I agreed with much of what the author wrote, there were several parts that really bugged me.

The book starts off with a bunch of birth stories. I was excited to read about birth in a positive light. However, there were several factors that made the stories less helpful. Over half of the birth stories took place in the 1970's and 1980's. So I personally felt some disconnect from reading about women who could be my mom! And although I know that natural birth hasn't changed all that much since then, I felt that the hospital parts of the various stories were grossly unfair--although interesting! It's safe to say that hospitals have come a long way since the 70's and 80's! Stories from the modern day in various environments (i.e. hospital, birthing center, home) would have been much more helpful to me.

Also, some of the women in the birth stories came off as very... different. I found the story about the woman stripping down and physically holding the woman who was in labor particularly odd. Some of the wording in the birth stories threw me off. There were a few mothers who would talk about their babies or body parts dancing.

Sometimes the stories seemed to get off-topic. They often focused on how wonderful the farm was versus how the women handled birth. There was a story about abortion that while interesting, really didn't go into very much detail about the birth.

Despite all of those flaws, I did find some of the birth stories helpful. I liked reading about what the women did to cope with pain/lessen the pain and the various ways they pushed out their babies. I just wish that could have been a focus in all of the stories.

I experienced some confusion about "The Farm". A better introduction that explained exactly what the farm was would have been helpful. As it was, it took a me a bit of reading to piece together exactly how the farm worked. And I still imagine people living on buses or in tents like a couple of the stories mentioned. Maybe that's really how "The Farm" functions.

I found the beginning of the second section of the book by far the most helpful. I was able to write down many techniques that I want to try in my next birth. There was a of useful advice and if the whole book would have been like that, it would have easily been a five star book!

Once the author started talking about medical tests/procedures, she lost some of my attention. She seemed excessively cautious about medical tests. The benefits of medical tests were skimmed over while the possible harm of these tests was thoroughly covered. I especially thought that the author was overly critical of the Rhogam shot. I raised my eyebrows when she stated that routine Rhogam injections at 28 weeks was internationally controversial. The international hospital that I will be giving birth at does routine Rhogam injections at 28 weeks. In fact, my foreign Dr. (who was not trained in America), encourages it. After having an antibody scare myself and following women who deal with anti-D antibodies during pregnancy, the few sentences she had on sensitization were not enough to fully understand the risky (and potentially heartbreaking) future pregnancies of those who are sensitized.

I felt preached at for the last part of the book. While a lot of her outrage seemed justified to me, it wasn't very helpful in a book that was supposed to be a "guide" to childbirth. Some of the topics she discussed could have been covered much more succinctly. And at times, the author went too far in her criticisms. I thought it was especially unfair to claim that Dr.'s are not critical thinkers (or at least haven't been taught this vital skill in medical school) and that they don't have time to read recent studies. While this is certainly true of some Dr.'s, it is surely not true of most Dr.'s. I also would have been interested to learn what percentage of high-risk pregnancies the hospitals have/had and if these were included in the statistics she used to compare to "The Farm".

The author got somewhat political in her writing which made me slightly uncomfortable. After she thoroughly detailed problems within the medical field, she gave suggestions that included more federal regulation and national healthcare. I would have appreciated a broader selection of solutions. The author described all that Dr.'s do to prevent lawsuits but failed to suggest malpractice reform in her list of solutions.

Which gets me to the last part that bothered me. Dr.'s are blamed for almost everything. The author mentioned the high rate of epidurals and the resulting interventions. However, she failed to note that part of the problem was the large number of women who demand epidurals. There are many women who refuse to give birth without an epidural and therefore, have no desire to have a midwife or intervention-free birth. (I personally don't have anything against that. But it would contribute to why so many American women use Dr.'s instead of midwives and why so many interventions happen.)

This very lengthy review might suggest that I didn't like this book or that I majorly disagreed with the author. I didn't. Again, this is the most helpful of the four books I have read so far. I learned a lot and would even recommend this book as long as it is not the only book a future mother reads.

Three Stars. ...more
1

Jan 04, 2019

Everyone who steered me to this book did so because of the "empowering birth stories." This is all well and good, I guess, if you are planning an all-natural home birth, but far from true for hospital births. The science cited here, along with hospital procedures generally, is pretty outdated, which works nicely for the book's preferred method of persuasion: scare tactics. There's very much an overarching mixed message of "we totally don't judge women who choose hospital birth, but oh golly, Everyone who steered me to this book did so because of the "empowering birth stories." This is all well and good, I guess, if you are planning an all-natural home birth, but far from true for hospital births. The science cited here, along with hospital procedures generally, is pretty outdated, which works nicely for the book's preferred method of persuasion: scare tactics. There's very much an overarching mixed message of "we totally don't judge women who choose hospital birth, but oh golly, those poor dears are gullible victims of this unfeeling death machine called modern healthcare." "Hate the sin, not the sinner" sort of thinly-veiled shaming that I don't care for from any ideology. ...more
5

December 9, 2018

Absolutely recommend!
I haven't finished reading yet, I read some of the birth stories in the beginning and am maybe halfway through the practical advice at the end. You have to take the birth stories with a grain if salt because a lot of them happened in the 70s on the hippie compound that The Farm Midwives later came out of. I admit some of them were a little too... "different" for me. Depends on your views I guess. But there is something powerful about reading story after story about how women gave birth as something that they did rather than something that happened to them. I'm not sold on orgasmic birth or some of the other things discussed, but that was just a small portion of the book. If you're like me and that isn't really for you, my advice is to still read the practical advice (the second half of the book). Ina May has this amazing way of bridging gaps from centuries of medical knowledge with today's knowledge and conveying it in such a graceful and easy to understand way that isn't pushy in any way. It's your body, your baby, and your birth and you need to make choices about your care and birth for yourself. That being said, I don't know how you could read this book, be low-risk, and still go forward with a typical American pregnancy and birth (there are always exceptions of course). I would love to be able to be seen by The Farm Midwives. The powerful knowledge and compassion comes through the pages of the book. This book, in addition to scholarly research I've done for an essay I've written for a college class, and watching The Business of Being Born documentary has completely changed how I view birth. I absolutely love Ina May! I have recommended this book to family and friends and will continue to do so. Knowledge is power!
1

August 10, 2017

Not for me
If you are planning on having a hospital birth like me, please don't read this book. It focuses on "the farm" a birthing type center with midwives and it makes you feel insecure about hospital practices.
4

Jan 07, 2013

The first half of this book I felt was filler and outdated, the content could have been halved. It consisted of birth stories and after reading a few they all sounded the same. I ended up skimming the rest. These stories are all from the 1970s so I felt like I was reading a history book since I am so far removed from that age group.

The second half of the book was really helpful with information on what to expect during childbirth, what your options are, and techniques to help you during The first half of this book I felt was filler and outdated, the content could have been halved. It consisted of birth stories and after reading a few they all sounded the same. I ended up skimming the rest. These stories are all from the 1970s so I felt like I was reading a history book since I am so far removed from that age group.

The second half of the book was really helpful with information on what to expect during childbirth, what your options are, and techniques to help you during childbirth. It is heavily biased toward home birth, midwifery, and natural birthing. So take some of the comments with a grain of salt because Ina May is talking from her experience which is outside the hospital and from her experiences on the Farm. I'm not sure what information was updated. When reading you do get a clear idea of how experienced of a midwife Ina May is and you can respect her talent and expertise in her field.

Overall I took one star away for the amount of birth stories (127 pages worth) and the fact that they were very old. Then I took another star away for the lack of positive information about hospital birth and lack of other statistics, by state, stating what the cesarean rate was vs natural birth, as well as drug use during labor. I would have liked to see a more balanced approach to back up more of her claims. This "guide to childbirth" is only a guide if you are outside a hospital but was helpful regardless. I would read again and give to friends to read as well. It took a lot of the mystery away and clarified that labor was more than "hours of the worst pain in your life and very scary" like everyone tells you. I feel more prepared and know my body will know what to do when the time comes. Any book that lessens the fear with reliable information about the birthing process is valuable. ...more

Best Books from your Favorite Authors & Publishers

compare-icon compare-icon
Thousands of books

Take your time and choose the perfect book.

review-icon review-icon
Read Reviews

Read ratings and reviews to make sure you are on the right path.

vendor-icon vendor-icon
Multiple Stores

Check price from multiple stores for a better shopping experience.

gift-icon

Enjoy Result