Ina May's Guide to Childbirth Info

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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
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Reviews for Ina May's Guide to Childbirth:

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
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
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.
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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
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
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
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
4

Jul 03, 2008

A lot of information on the professional merits of midwifery, so I admit skipping some chapters for the time being to learn content more directly related my partner's pregnancy. I will continue to read the birth stories, though I only needed a dozen of them or so before I wanted to hear what she actually had to say (this may partially be because I am a male reader who's brain learns slightly differrent that the target audience). I will read them all before my first child arrives. I believe this A lot of information on the professional merits of midwifery, so I admit skipping some chapters for the time being to learn content more directly related my partner's pregnancy. I will continue to read the birth stories, though I only needed a dozen of them or so before I wanted to hear what she actually had to say (this may partially be because I am a male reader who's brain learns slightly differrent that the target audience). I will read them all before my first child arrives. I believe this book is encouraging and empowering as it assists a woman in trusting her body to perform the task it was biologically made for- childbirth. Her direct teaching and the stories will help me technically assist my partner, though she doesn't teach about pregnancy and childbirth as much as she provides research, opinion, experience, and statistics to argue that the common medical model for childbirth is poorly developed. As with any discussion about a debatable topic, the experts are not likely to be very open-minded, but she impressed me with her logical and tempered, if not unaggresive, presentation. Select peices are extremely helpful and informative as well as empowering, so I would consider this a must read for the expecting parent who truly wants a well-balanced perspective in order to make informed decisions. ...more
2

Jan 13, 2014

Disclaimer, I did not read this book in its entirety.

As with any book I began at the beginning. After half a dozen birth stories I found myself stressed, slightly horrified and definitely not (as the author says she intends) empowered. So I skipped to the middle of the book, part two, the practical information.

Part two was better. There is a lot of good information; much of it insight into alternative, little heard of, more natural ways of approaching and coping with the experience of Disclaimer, I did not read this book in its entirety.

As with any book I began at the beginning. After half a dozen birth stories I found myself stressed, slightly horrified and definitely not (as the author says she intends) empowered. So I skipped to the middle of the book, part two, the practical information.

Part two was better. There is a lot of good information; much of it insight into alternative, little heard of, more natural ways of approaching and coping with the experience of childbirth (starting labor, dealing with pain, preventing complications & avoiding medications/procedures). There are specific examples given of when, and the author's insights as to why, certain natural methods achieve success in labor. There is wisdom from much experience and many years in this field from the author.

However, I even had to skip a few sections in the latter half of the book. I was not interested in the professional benchmarks and promotion of midwifery. I am at a loss as to why this chapter even made it into a book for expectant mothers? There is enough material to wade through as a mom-to-be and precious little time to waste on a topic like this. I also found the chapter discussing maternal mortality rates off-putting. I'm not squeamish, I'm a nurse, but as a woman trying to prepare to have a baby in a few months I don't want to fill my head with stories and statistics about women who die in the process of labor; unnecessary stress and certainly not empowering for me. There were also simply sections that didn't apply to me such as VBAC, so I skipped them.

One thing I had to chuckle to myself about was the author's accusation that doctors are not trained nor do they have the time required for thoughtful, critical reading and research either during their schooling or later in their every day practice. Well let us hope most people don't approach this book with critical thinking skills either then! With even some slight objective or critical reading poor Ina May fails miserably as an author. Midwives, doulas, home births, and even birthing centers are given a lot of time. She uses an abundance of descriptive, soothing, comforting language when discussing these things. She loudly praises their every benefit and greatly downplays or completely ignores any of their shortcomings or risks. However when talking about hospitals, doctors, nurses or anything else remotely “medical” she is short, terse, detached, and extremely clinical in her descriptions and quick to downplay their benefits whilst highlighting their every possible, minute flaws. While she does in many places provide good information, do not be fooled into thinking she is at all, in any way an objective or unbiased resource! I think she makes traditional clinical medicine and those that work in that field unnecessarily sterile and frightening while painting midwives and homebirth with rose colored glasses.

I've yet to find a really wonderful pregnancy, childbirth or parenting book that is objective and firmly in the middle ground. It's discouraging. So in order to find good information about all the various options and opinions and views you are forced to wade through books from both extremes. Books by doctors that warn midwives are ill qualified and you will die at home or by using any alternative methods of coping with this life experience. Or, in this books case, an extremely one-sided look at how wonderful birth is only if you are at home, with a midwife having an orgasm as your baby comes into the world (the alternative being a piece of meat in line at the slaughter house where your chance of death is greatly increased, aka. the maternity ward at your local hospital).

So, the short version of this review: take this book with a large grain of salt! Bear in mind the author is extremely prejudiced in one direction. But there are many good insights, ideas, and a good look at a more natural/alternative approach to the typical medical/hospital care women are more commonly accustomed to. I do like how the author encourages the reader to do their own research, question standard practices and educates women that they always have the right to not only question care and procedures, but to refuse them!
...more
4

Mar 11, 2012

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I had heard of Ina May before and knew that she was a famous midwife and this book was also recommended to me by my fabulous prenatal yoga instructor. Although I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the book, I knew that there would be some ideas that probably wouldn't mesh well with what I wanted or had planned for childbirth. I was right, but I can't tell you how immensely grateful I am that I read this book anyways.

A preface about me: When I I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I had heard of Ina May before and knew that she was a famous midwife and this book was also recommended to me by my fabulous prenatal yoga instructor. Although I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the book, I knew that there would be some ideas that probably wouldn't mesh well with what I wanted or had planned for childbirth. I was right, but I can't tell you how immensely grateful I am that I read this book anyways.

A preface about me: When I became pregnant, I toyed with the idea of using a midwife instead of an OB. I was hoping for as natural a birth as possible with little, if any, medical interventions. Yet, I also knew that there was no way I wanted a home birth, and because of my insurance coverage, it would be cheaper for me to give birth in a hospital rather than a birthing center. I decided to stick with my OB/GYN but learned a lot from this book anyways.

It was interesting to read about Ina May and her background and birthing philosophies, but I found the other half of the book that included real women's birthing stories absolutely fascinating! Once again, I knew that a lot of the stories shared were not what I would personally want, but it was beautiful seeing that giving birth can be such a natural thing. I went into childbirth with almost no fears and I think this book (and simply trusting my body) had a lot to do with it!

When I finally went into labor, I had powerful contractions for DAYS before giving birth. Because I read this book, I knew that was a normal thing and not a reason for concern. Yet, no other classes, books, or doctors had prepared me to be in labor for days. It was worth it for me to read this book, even if that was the only bit of information that I took in - and trust me, it wasn't! ...more
5

Jul 08, 2012

Re-read December 2014:

Now that I'm pregnant, I went back and re-read this (probably not for the first time). I still find it remarkable and engaging. I will be having my baby in a hospital setting, so it was helpful to be reminded of things to ask my doctor and the hospital staff about prior to going into labor.

******

This is a remarkable little book. It really gave me a lot to think about and research in terms of what I previously considered as normal for childbirth in the US. I experienced an Re-read December 2014:

Now that I'm pregnant, I went back and re-read this (probably not for the first time). I still find it remarkable and engaging. I will be having my baby in a hospital setting, so it was helpful to be reminded of things to ask my doctor and the hospital staff about prior to going into labor.

******

This is a remarkable little book. It really gave me a lot to think about and research in terms of what I previously considered as normal for childbirth in the US. I experienced an interesting emotional change as I was reading the birth stories that make up the first half of the book. At first I found them somewhat terrifying ("Oh god, I'm going to have to do that?"). Then I started to find them rather boring ("Wait, HOW much of this book is birth stories?"). Then I quite simply found myself moved and awed. In story after story, women described the way that they faced the fear and intensity of the birth experience, overcame their worries and fears, and came out the other side. I found myself moved to tears repeatedly by the natural power and resiliency of women's bodies. It's hard to say that without sounding too woo-woo, but it's true.

The second half of the book discusses childbirth in physical terms, and then moves into the dangers of some ways of handling the childbirth that have become common practice. I think that even if women are not planning on a homebirth, it is really useful to use this as a point of discussion with one's practitioner and as a jumping off point for one's own research. I know that I will be doing more research of my own into practices like cesarean sections and induction of labor. I am grateful that this book exists. ...more
4

May 28, 2013

This has got to be one of the best educational books I've read--especially when you consider the mass misconception it overturns. I am coming from a medical background as a nurse working all over the hospital and I was amazed at everything I didn't know--at everything about childbirth that most obstetrical doctors don't even know and refuse to acknowledge. No matter what comes of my next pregnancy and delivery, this book has already changed my entire experience and beliefs.

Everyone who ever This has got to be one of the best educational books I've read--especially when you consider the mass misconception it overturns. I am coming from a medical background as a nurse working all over the hospital and I was amazed at everything I didn't know--at everything about childbirth that most obstetrical doctors don't even know and refuse to acknowledge. No matter what comes of my next pregnancy and delivery, this book has already changed my entire experience and beliefs.

Everyone who ever plans to have a baby should read this book. Even in a hospital setting with modern medicinal interventions, this book would have made the biggest difference for me and prevented a medically unnecessary c-section--which is why I will recommend it to everyone, even those not planning to use natural methods. However, my next pregnancy I am going natural at a birthing center--and for the first time in my life, believe it is actually possible (and safer!). This is coming from someone with a diagnosed case of minor PTSD resulting from my first birth experience. Prior to reading this, I would have been adamantly opposed to a drug-free, out-of-hospital birth and a couple of years ago, I didn't even know birthing centers existed.

This book is groundbreaking and hugely important. It's surely deserving of 5 stars, but I took one off for the occasional concept that just creeped me out a little too much, like the birthgasm. I'm not judging, but I am definitely NOT interested.

P.S. Part 2 of this book is the essential read. Part 1 is just birth stories. If that's inspirational, cool. If not, just skip and read Part 2. ...more
4

Jan 29, 2013

Reading in preparation for my second child. So I already know all the basics of birthing, really just wanted a refresher on what to expect during labor and help me manage pain better.

A bit outdated as far as hospital procedures go (or I live in a very progressive area), but it was more informative and balanced than other birthing books I've read. Talks about empowering your body, and generally believing you can give birth. This is the part where I feel like I learned a lot, and I think it'll Reading in preparation for my second child. So I already know all the basics of birthing, really just wanted a refresher on what to expect during labor and help me manage pain better.

A bit outdated as far as hospital procedures go (or I live in a very progressive area), but it was more informative and balanced than other birthing books I've read. Talks about empowering your body, and generally believing you can give birth. This is the part where I feel like I learned a lot, and I think it'll help me the most.

Also Discusses some "bad" hospital procedures, but does so in a balanced manner and recognizes that there is a time and place for medical intervention. The "bad" procedures listed aren't ones I had to deal with when giving birth to my first child in 2010. I understand that, yes, in general, c-sections are used way more frequently than they should be. But honestly, what the hell kind of hospital still gives enemas or does pubic shaving? Or doesn't in-room the babies? Or doesn't lay the baby on your chest immediately after birth? Or doesn't recommend moving around during labor? The nurses did warn me against eating/drinking too much, but were very liberal with the ice chips, and I wasn't denied food. So like I said, outdated, but still very useful and informative. ...more
5

Aug 08, 2009

When I was only 7 weeks pregnant with my first child I knew if I wanted to have a natural childbirth I would need to learn as much as I could about the process so I could build my confidence and also become an advocate for myself and my baby. This is the first book I picked up, and the main message I took from it was how to trust- trust in the abilities of your body and trust that a midwife can care for a pregnant woman in a very special and unique way. This book gave me the confidence to really When I was only 7 weeks pregnant with my first child I knew if I wanted to have a natural childbirth I would need to learn as much as I could about the process so I could build my confidence and also become an advocate for myself and my baby. This is the first book I picked up, and the main message I took from it was how to trust- trust in the abilities of your body and trust that a midwife can care for a pregnant woman in a very special and unique way. This book gave me the confidence to really eschew the traditional OB/GYN/Hospital route, especially all of the fear mongering and worry it so often brings. Ina May's vast experience and stories are confidence-building. Her statistics speak for themselves, as does her common-sense rationale for so many parts of pregnancy and delivery (i.e. the forgotten powers of the vaginal sphincter, motion during childbirth, eating during childbirth, no separation of momma and baby after birth). I decided soon after reading this that I would do everything in my power to have a natural childbirth. We found a birth center located two hours from my home which I drove to every month/two weeks/week until my daughter was born there in the care of my husband, midwife and one nursing assistant. What an intimate and lovely way to bring a child into the world. It is still possible and this book can help you achieve it. ...more
2

Jul 26, 2012

I am currently pregnant with #3. My first I had to have by c-section due to placenta previa. I wanted a natural birth with the second, and I had a successful VBAC with my doctor's encouragement, but needed pitocin because my water broke and 24 hours later I was still not in labor. The unnatural contractions caused me to give up after 12 hours on pitocin and get the epidural. I borrowed this book from the library in hopes of getting some good tips and support. Instead I got over the top birth I am currently pregnant with #3. My first I had to have by c-section due to placenta previa. I wanted a natural birth with the second, and I had a successful VBAC with my doctor's encouragement, but needed pitocin because my water broke and 24 hours later I was still not in labor. The unnatural contractions caused me to give up after 12 hours on pitocin and get the epidural. I borrowed this book from the library in hopes of getting some good tips and support. Instead I got over the top birth stories with women stripping down naked with each other to feel the laboring woman's contractions, and husbands sucking on their wives nipples in the delivery room to stimulate labor. These stories are meant to empower women to know their bodies can get through labor naturally, but they just didn't do it for me. The second half of the book had some great tips, but also seemed to demonize modern medicine and obstetricians. I feel like I'm a pretty open-minded person and believe everyone is entitled to give birth how they see fit, and for some people (including myself) that means to give birth in a hospital with a ob. Overall, the book just didn't accomplish for me what I had hoped, which was basically some coping mechanisms to get through natural labor. ...more
3

Aug 25, 2016

A must-read if you are pregnant or ever planning to be, especially in the United States. Meticulously researched, beautifully written, and refreshingly "graphic." A fair warning though: you may get angry at the ignorance that seems to pervade the drug-obsessed, machine-dependent, medical model of birth, and you may become frightened at the prospect of giving birth in a hospital. This is not her intention, however, and reading this book cover to cover will give you the insight and understanding A must-read if you are pregnant or ever planning to be, especially in the United States. Meticulously researched, beautifully written, and refreshingly "graphic." A fair warning though: you may get angry at the ignorance that seems to pervade the drug-obsessed, machine-dependent, medical model of birth, and you may become frightened at the prospect of giving birth in a hospital. This is not her intention, however, and reading this book cover to cover will give you the insight and understanding you need to beat any of the odds that the medical model unfairly pits against you. My advice: read it all the way through, no matter what. The bliss of ignorance in this case could really do you harm. ...more
2

Aug 01, 2019

This book is completely against your typical hospital delivery and too natural for my taste. I am not anti-natural home births but I plan on having an MD present in a hospital setting for my own delivery.

The first half of the book was inspiring and empowering birth stories from women that I enjoyed reading. The second half of the book is about Ina May's experiences as a midwife. She says the pain of childbirth can be pleasurable. She says she feels things in her vagina at the same time her This book is completely against your typical hospital delivery and too natural for my taste. I am not anti-natural home births but I plan on having an MD present in a hospital setting for my own delivery.

The first half of the book was inspiring and empowering birth stories from women that I enjoyed reading. The second half of the book is about Ina May's experiences as a midwife. She says the pain of childbirth can be pleasurable. She says she feels things in her vagina at the same time her patients feel things in theirs...Sorry, but I'm not buying that. ...more

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