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Ina May Gaskin

Author of Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

10+ Works 2,454 Members 48 Reviews 6 Favorited

About the Author

Image credit: Nambassa Trust and Peter Terry, http://www.nambassa.com/ (Wikipedia)

Works by Ina May Gaskin

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Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Gaskin, Ina May
20th Century
Places of residence
Tennessee, USA
Gaskin, Stephen (husband)



This is my favorite book about childbirth, i love all the stories of births and the information that this midwife has collected about the way the medical model is bad for birth, and why you should therefore have your baby naturally.
mslibrarynerd | 31 other reviews | Jan 13, 2024 |
An absolute must-read for anyone preparing for or planning to one day give birth. I wish I read this nine years ago before my first birth, which would have turned out to be a completely different experience, one free of trauma. After reading this, I am very excited to give birth in a few short months, and to share this new experience with my husband.
rosenmemily | 31 other reviews | Jan 7, 2024 |
Even though it's dated, I think every pregnant woman should read this. Sphincter Law, ladies! Learn it, live it.
LibrarianDest | 31 other reviews | Jan 3, 2024 |
Between this and [b:The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth|29430619|The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth|Genevieve Howland|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1488107243l/29430619._SX50_.jpg|49695208], I get the vibe that "natural" childbirth books do make pregnant folks feel less fearful about birth in general... while also instilling a fear of the medical profession and interventions, which I find less productive. Your mileage may vary. This was lent to me by a friend.

The first half is entirely anecdotes by parents who mostly birthed at The Farm commune in Tennessee or had midwife-attended/influenced births. Many of them are from the 1970s and 1980s, with the most recent being around 2000 (which makes sense since this was published in 2003). Still, a little disconcerting to read about births for people older than me...

...the temporal nature also applies to how I feel about the second half. In the twenty years since this was published, I do think the profession has changed- the American c-section and maternal mortality rate is still high compared to the rest of the world, but there's far more baby-friendly (per WHO rules) hospitals, including the one I plan to deliver at. When asked about birth preferences last week I mentioned wanting to avoid an episiotomy if I can, and two different docs mentioned that it's been years since they've seen one done at my local facility. Likewise, the chapter "What You Need to Know About Your Pregnancy and Prenatal Care" dismisses most screening/testing as Ina May believes they tend to lead to unnecessary interventions and... this strikes me as irresponsible, though NIPT (nonexistent in 2003) is definitely less invasive than amnio or CVS (and as someone with a genetics background, OF COURSE I was going to do testing!! It's really interesting!!)

I also have a gestational diabetes diagnosis. She thinks that "the anxiety that is often produced by [the glucose tolerance test] simply isn't worth the information gained from it. Sometimes, when the test is positive, you may be urged to undergo further expensive tests and treatments with no proven benefit" and goes on to say that sometimes women feel funny and have high sugar readings that wouldn't be detected by testing, usually because they ate something that they don't tolerate well during pregnancy, like white flour and sugar which should be eliminated from the woman's diet... ma'am, that's literally what's suggested as a GD treatment!! It would not have been on my radar if I hadn't done two different glucose tests, because while I do have some family history I don't get dizzy spells from sugar.

In short, while Ina May is probably right that avoiding screenings and tests will reduce anxiety, it does create the potential situation of going into birth blind to potential complications until it's possibly too late. I prefer knowing what's going on and the likelihood of future events. Modern medicine doesn't solely exist for profit; as someone who was a premature baby (my mom's water broke weeks early, and she was an older first time mother), I have a healthy respect for interventions as I probably wouldn't be here otherwise! I'm curious if Ina May's ever considered updating or revising this, or if it will be a snapshot of perspectives from the early 2000s after 40 years in the business.

Also: you're going to see photos of crowning babies coming out of labia in this book, just be forewarned! Fascinating, but just a heads up (heh).
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Daumari | 31 other reviews | Dec 28, 2023 |


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