Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Birth Matters: How What We Don't Know About Nature, Bodies, and Surgery Can Hurt Us” as Want to Read:
Birth Matters: How What We Don't Know About Nature, Bodies, and Surgery Can Hurt Us
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Birth Matters: How What We Don't Know About Nature, Bodies, and Surgery Can Hurt Us

4.36 of 5 stars 4.36  ·  rating details  ·  1,025 ratings  ·  104 reviews
Renowned for her practice's exemplary results and low intervention rates, Ina May Gaskin has gained international notoriety for promoting natural birth. She is a much-beloved leader of a movement that seeks to stop the hyper-medicalization of birth—which has lead to nearly a third of hospital births in America to be cesarean sections—and renew confidence in a woman's natur ...more
ebook, 0 pages
Published January 4th 2011 by Seven Stories Press (first published January 1st 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Birth Matters, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Birth Matters

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,336)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I'm not sure if this one truly deserves five stars. I think four stars would be a more accurate rating, given that it is a bit dry (and thus thoroughly unenjoyable) at times. It gets the fifth star for Gaskin's unabashed and frequent usage of the word "poop."

I love this woman. I want her to deliver my babies. I want her to know that I trust her completely not to bullshit me. All of this because of poop.

There are so many terms in midwifery. They're not clinical and scary sounding, nor are they f
Nicole Handy
This book is Ina May Gaskin's "Manifesta." I picked it up after hearing her on the Diane Rehm Show. Although it is very pro-midwife/anti-hospital, it is more about how we need to reform the maternity system in our country. She delves into how we should be compensating OBs and how we need to overhaul how Maternal Deaths are recorded so we can get an accurate idea of why we have such a poor record of mother/baby deaths compared to other industrialized countries. She does a nice job of showing the ...more
All people should be exposed to the concept that Birth Matters, women matter, and unhealthy maternity care practices lead to more maternal death. Ina May Gaskin does a wonderful job presenting these topics in her latest book. It is simply wrong that the US has such high cesarean rates. Frankly, the US is a dangerous place to have a baby. Ina May does a beautiful job of explaining the problem and giving practical solutions. Change is possible but it takes effort. I highly recommend this book. It ...more
I believe Gaskin has written other books that address home birth specifically, this book seemed to be more of a last hurrah toward addressing home birth, women's rights, second-wave feminism, and problems in the way the US treats birth choice.

There was an ample amount of feminism (as even the title suggests) but it was refreshing to see someone who advocated women being women and not treating childbirth as a form of slavery. I appreciated her stance that it is a natural process and find it very
Ina May is passionate about birth. She also probably knows more about *normal* birth than any living soul. I've just realized though, that she's leaning towards a place of "legislate this, legislate that." It's completely understandable: not only are birth practices these days NOT evidence-based, but they're dangerous, and she's spent her entire life trying to support and educate women AND doctors about the wonder and power and safety of normal birth (and the dangers of typical hospital birth), ...more
(I originally wrote this review for Elevate Difference)

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

Having already read extensively on the subject of pregnancy, labor, and birth, I found that Gaskin’s book did not reveal anything
Lisa Savage
Easily the most influential non-fiction book I have read in the last few years. A topic of great interest to me as considered by the leading childbirth revolutionary and educator of our time, Ina May Gaskin of The Farm in Tennessee. Her understanding of the topic is both deep and broad, and her analysis of what's wrong with medicalized childbirth in the USA could be a template for the collapse of rational health care in our time. But her field has further and more significant implications in ter ...more
"A woman who gives birth in the USA today is more likely to die in childbirth than her mother was. With one in three babies born via cesarean, the US ranks behind thirty-three other nations in neonatal mortality rates, and forty other nations in maternal mortality rates." ~Ina May Gaskin

A fantastic book that talks about the most important issues in women's health, childbirth, obstetrics and how we can make positive changes for the future.
Of course she makes perfect sense. Ina May is the Mother Teresa of the birth world. Why doesn't everyone else "get it". Women, we need to take back our birth !!
I picked this up because I just heard Ms Gaskin come to speak at the hospital where I work. Looking forward to reading more of her work!
Mar 08, 2011 Nathalie marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
One day...I will visit the Farm!
Over the past decade, I have read just about every birth related book on the market. I was not excited to have to read another, especially since I just gave birthi for my third and final time and I have been pulling away from birth work for the past few years. So when reading my review keep in mind that I am particularly jaded at this point in my life!

So, I was not impressed with Ani De Franco's forward. I know she is supposed to be the hero of all freethinkers of my generation, but I never got
Definitely my favorite book by Ina May. This book is just so well-done. Tons of research, solid arguments, and important calls to action without ever sounding condescending or patronizing. I especially loved the section on the history of midwifery and obstetrics.

Ina May is just a great ambassador for women. She exudes compassion and wisdom and is very unifying in her message. One of her main points is that no matter what type of birth you prefer (medicated or unmedicated, home or hospital), the
Molly Westerman
A very readable, engaging, and concise primer on why birth matters and what's going wrong with it in the contemporary US.

Gaskin speaks here to a broad audience--parents and people with no interest in having children, women and men, people with significantly different political perspectives and approaches to birth / parenting / reproductive rights. Birthing Matters articulates what so many of us in the birth advocacy world want people to hear: why our culture's views and treatment of pregnant/bir
This book is a must-read for anyone concerned about human rights. Ina May's vision for the future of woman-centered maternity care includes revising medical education so that obstetricians understand the normal process of labor and birth and how to encourage it; establishing maternity care standards to address C-sections and other interventions performed without medical justification; creating birth centers with economic and legislative protection; and setting up a national system to count and r ...more
Birth Matters and its important to research and understand why when considering your birthing options. Yes, this book heavily promotes natural birth but most books on birth end up promoting one platform or the other. Skip the natural birth stories if you feel they are preachy but there is important information that I pulled out of this book. Ina May Gaskin main theme was that our maternity system needs to be changed to promote the health and well being of mother and child. Right now its focus is ...more
Stephanie Dinnen-Reini
I want to give this book 3.5 stars. It covers quite a breadth of topics about the history of midwives and the women's health movement of the 70s and 80s. All of it was interesting, particularly the statistics comparing the use and birth outcomes of countries in Europe who greatly favor midwife use as compared to physician use in the United States. Of course, the terrifyingly high cesarean rate in the U.S. is mentioned and explored multiply.

It also touches on topics such as birth control, vaccina
Having read Spiritual Midwifery and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, and being fairly well-read and well-informed about the natural birth movement in the US, this book didn't have a lot new to offer -- in fact, a lot of the information at the beginning of this book seemed to be a direct retread of material in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. However, the tone is drastically different from both of the books mentioned above; the science remains, but the woo is largely gone. It's informative, easy to r ...more
Vanessa Pruitt
I was simply delighted when I received a request to review Ina May’s new book Birth Matters. As a fan of her work, I wondered if this book would just rehash information and ideas from her previous books. I hoped that we would finally get a better glimpse into her thoughts on the current state of birth in our culture and a better understanding of her teachings and findings. In the back of my mind, I feared that this would be just another book about natural childbirth.

I applaud the title of this b
Ina May Gaskin is such a leader for women that are giving birth! This book is somewhat of a manifesto and details what she wants to see for the future of birthing in our country. Basically the United States performs C-Sections WAY too often and goes to medication (epidural, pitocin) as more a routine rather than just when truly necessary. We also have way too many physicians aiding birth when trained midwives would be much more effective and safer for women. In our country you would like to thin ...more
When I stumbled upon this while browsing at the library, I thought: "Hmmm... Ina May Gaskin is pretty rad... the intro is written by Ani DiFranco... What? What! I have to read this."

I'm glad I did.

Gaskin is a woman whose values I totally respect. I may look more kindly than she does on the medical establishment (after all, I had a joyful, almost completely unmedicated hospital birth that unfolded pretty much exactly the way I had hoped it would), but it is advocates like her who do a great job o
Lisa C
Wasn't sure if this one deserved four stars or five, since it's the first of its kind I've read. By kind, I mean a manifesta on the importance of birth and women's rights regarding how they birth. Okay, never mind, it's a five star just for that.

I went into reading this book with a very bad birthing experience behind me, and also pregnant with my second, wanting to have a home birth while my husband was pushing for a hospital birth--which blew my mind, considering the danger the hospital person
Literary Mama
As a technologically-advanced country, one might assume that US mortality rates - indicators of the quality of pre- and postnatal care - would rank among the world's best. In fact, we rank behind forty other nations in maternal mortality, and behind thirty others in neonatal. Gaskin's manifesto successfully educates the reader as to why this is so: lack of necessary experience for both doctors and nurses; hospital policies dictated by insurance policy rather than evidence-based practices; non-ex ...more
This is exactly as the title would suggest: "A midwife's manifesta." While there are the usual wonderful birth stories interspersed in the text, this book is less aimed at empowering individual pregnant women as it is at improving the system of maternity care in the United States more generally. And as always, Ina May makes a great case. I'm completely convinced.

There is a lot of overlap and redundancy between this book and the second half of Ina May's Guide to Childbirth . Mind you, the overla
Marisa Renteria
If I was asked which book is the most important for people to read when facing pregnancy, this is it! I wish we could burn all the copies of What to Expect When You Are Expecting, because reading Ina May is so empowering and eye opening. I had a wonderful pregnancy, and my labor and birth were gentle, completely natural and unmedicated, and my baby is alert, healthy and thriving. I know great part of this is because I trusted the knowledge of midwifery through this book, amazing book!
An interesting read, but one to approach with open mind and helpful serving of skepticism. I particularly enjoyed the historical aspects that were presented, and the approach to birth as a natural process. However, it is (predictably) very anti-medical establishment, hospitals, interventions, etc. and does not look at these issues from both sides. I can appreciate Gaskin as much as anyone but I have come to the conclusion that when it gets a little political, she can be slightly extremist and, i ...more
Gaskin provides a thorough summary of the history of birth in the United States, and I loved the birth stories. That said, I came away with the same feeling I got from Ina May's Guide to Childbirth: Updated With New Material: no one within the medical establishment is going to respond to any call for change that's phrased in this kind of hospital-demonizing tone, even though the book provides some useful suggestions for lowering the C-section rate and creating more birth centers. I even found my ...more
This is a must read for all health care professionals having anything to do with pregnancy, labor and delivery. Also a must read for all women pregnant or planning on children someday, doulas, childbirth instructors, etc. It kicks the fear of child birth in the butt. It explains why our induction and c-section rates are high. She explains why we are more likely to die in or post childbirth today than were our mothers. It is very well referenced - so all the doubters or science minded can referen ...more
I liked this book alot as I found it to be rather through, and informative. It provided me a wider view of issues in maternity care, and sources that I can follow up on, to do further research on the history of maternity care, and the feminine. I give it five stars because of her courage at first I was not into the book as much, but later became more focused. The birth stories are lovely. I don't agree with all her solutions as there are many models of midwifery care, and I am for a much more op ...more
Gaskin’s most recent book, Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta, begins with an argument that birth stories are important sources of information about a process that in our technological society has become hidden and mysterious. And — hurrah! hurrah! — the book also includes five new birth stories (or six, if you count Ani DiFranco’s, given in her forward to the book). Birth stories — positive birth stories, in particular — provide both pregnant and birthing women and their caregivers greater un ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 77 78 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Heart and Hands: A Midwife's Guide to Pregnancy and Birth
  • Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: The Wisdom and Science of Gentle Choices in Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
  • Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care
  • Active Birth : The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally
  • Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First
  • The Doula Book: How A Trained Labor Companion Can Help You Have A Shorter, Easier, And Healthier Birth
  • Gentle Birth Choices
  • The Birth Partner
  • Childbirth without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth
  • Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation
  • The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth
  • Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers
  • Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart: A Midwife's Saga
  • The Natural Pregnancy Book: Herbs, Nutrition, and Other Holistic Choices
  • Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife
  • Your Best Birth: Know All Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices, and Take Back the Birth Experience
  • Birth as an American Rite of Passage
  • The Complete Book of Pregnancy & Childbirth
Ina May Gaskin, MA, CPM, is founder and director of the Farm Midwifery Center, located near Summertown, Tennessee. Founded in 1971, by 1996, the Farm Midwifery Center had handled more than 2200 births, with remarkably good outcomes. Ms. Gaskin herself has attended more than 1200 births. She is author of Spiritual Midwifery, now in its fourth edition. For twenty-two years she published Birth Gazett ...more
More about Ina May Gaskin...
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth Spiritual Midwifery Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding Babies, Breastfeeding, and Bonding Boobies for Babies: A Modern Guide to Breastfeeding

Share This Book

“Many of our problems in US maternity care stem from the fact that we leave no room for recognizing when nature is smarter than we are.” 19 likes
“The way a culture treats women in birth is a good indicator of how well women and their contributions to society are valued and honored.” 14 likes
More quotes…