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Spiritual Midwifery

4.39  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,215 Ratings  ·  375 Reviews
"Here is the 4th edition of the classic book on home birth that introduced a whole generation of women to the concept of natural childbirth. Back again are even more amazing birthing tales, including those from women who were babies in earlier editions and stories about Old Order Amish women attended by the Farm midwives.

Also new is information about the safety of techniqu
Kindle Edition, 486 pages
Published (first published January 1st 1975)
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Oct 19, 2012 Forrest rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Why," you surely ask, "is a man reviewing Spiritual Midwifery?"

Frankly put, I delivered two of my children at home. Yes, there was a midwife looking over my shoulder, but I did all the dirty work with my wife. From start to finish, these pregnancies were ours.

Ina May Gaskin's book is . . . well, groovy is the word. It's not a real how-to, nuts and bolts guide to home delivery, though it does explain in great (and graphic, not for young children) detail the mechanics of it all. It also offers s
This book changed my life. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was lost, I was tired of trying to find direction. One day at the health food store I wandered to the book section and I was drawn to the cover of this book... When I opened the pages it was like the clouds parted and a beam of light spread over me...

At that point I knew I would someday be a midwife. Now I'm in my first year of nursing school with a 5-10 year plan of going back after my BSN to get a master's degree in
Danger Kallisti
Feb 12, 2008 Danger Kallisti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all women and anyone who likes them
Recommended to Danger by: Allesandra
It's books like this that really make it clear to me that mainstream culture is completely ass-backwards, especially when it comes to healthcare (and most specifically, OB/GYN). 20 years of successful natural, positive, non-damaging childbirth on The Farm goes a long way toward proving that routine hospitalization of healthy laboring mothers, with its accompanying sexual assault and dehumanization, is in desperate need of re-evaluation.

This book presents the subject of midwifery in a gentle, fun
Emily Marks
My husband and a pregnant and beaming I, were attending a very moving Greek/Kiwi wedding on Waiheke Island and we met a radiant couple who taught Yoga among other esteemed things. She recommended this book to me.
When borrowing it from the local Library I was heartened to view its 70s cover. Ina May Gaskin and her 'faith' intrigued and perplexed me. Does anyone know - is she Christian with a smidgin of Buddhism? Her faith was never explicitly explained I guess cos it's not the point of the book,
Nov 16, 2007 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hippies
Laura found this first edition (1975) at the flea market next door. How could we turn this down? It's the first hand account - told by the mothers and fathers and midwives - of about 200 of the 372 births (thus far) on a giant culty hippie baby making farm in Tennessee. Followed by instructions for prenatal and neonatal care for parents and midwives. The hippie slang is unreal. A good example:

"'We could use some of your energy in here, Clifford.' I sat up and helped get it covered. It was right
My husband and I were of divided minds on this one. I was able to get past the sort of hippie-go-lucky language and tone of the book to the meat of it--namely, that childbirth is a wonderful natural process that can go much better for the mother when she is surrounded by supportive individuals who are acting on her behalf and the baby's in a personal way rather than in a institutional, impersonal, intervention focused hospital. Obviously if a woman feels cared for and relaxed and at ease, anythi ...more
Apr 05, 2008 June rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to June by: my midwife
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book before the home births of each of my three children. Yes, it's hokey. Yes, it's dated. There's a lot of long hair, beards and wire-rimmed glasses. BUT the pictures and birth stories are worth it. When I was looking for information on healthy, involved births, Ina May Gaskin provided a variety of experiences in this book. I did find the lack of racial/ethnic diversity to be a turn off, but oh, well. If you're looking for open, positive, and detailed stories about births, this is ...more
Sharon E.
Feb 18, 2008 Sharon E. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O MY GOSH you have to read this book if you are going to or have given birth at home or just want to have a wide awake natural childbirth!!! It left me with the confident knowledge that I wasn't the first, I won't be the last, and birth first and foremost belongs to women, not doctors.
Mar 26, 2014 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holy wow, where do I even start? I guess I have to start by saying two things:

1) This book changed my life.

2) I think every single woman should read this book.

Although the central theme of the book is midwifery, in essence, it's just this really, really amazing book that makes you feel incredible and powerful about being a woman. I think there needs to be a lot more of that in the world today. Woman are brought up to feel bad about being a woman. We're taught that our bodies are ugly and unheal
Jun 08, 2008 Astrid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone even remotely interested in birth
Don't be turned off by the outdated language and fashion in this book. It has the potential to change your whole outlook on birth and pregnancy. Even just reading the first half, which is all birthing stories, is very inspiring. There is also information for parents and midwives. I would highly recommend this book to current or future parents, midwives, or those who want to be supportive of a friend or family member's birthing.
LM Yellow
The hippie language turned me off. I can't help it if I grew up in San Francisco in the '80s
and am programmed to roll my eyes at terms like "turned on" (even though I just used
"turned off" - they are completely different!), "getting high" without drugs, "being
telepathic", etc. The making out while in labor stuff both interested me and grossed me
out depending on the story, but it also made me feel like I'll never learn how to relax my
mouth properly because my husband and I won't be kissing m
Sep 05, 2009 Alexis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has been, and still is, a very important book for pregnancy. Ina May's desire to change the way we think about birth is admirable.

That said, this book was not useful to me when I was pregnant, nor did it help prepare me for birth. In fact, for someone who was already of the mind that birth should be woman-centered and fear-free, this book increased my guilt about the fact that I hated being pregnant--I was sick the entire time. In my son's birth, medical intervention was necessary, but Ina
Antoinette Maria
Jul 01, 2009 Antoinette Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved the birth stories even though sometimes the hippie-ness of it is a little off putting. E.g., there are people who've had amazing natural childbirth experiences who don't need to live in the middle of nowhere, prefer the word contraction to rushes and would never use the word "psychedelic" to describe anything and I wish there were more of those so that women considering non-medicated birth could have that "Aah, she's just like me" moment of recognition. But overall the stories were inspiri ...more
Jan 24, 2008 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone considering homebirth
Recommended to Beth by: Donna Hensley
This is the greatest it I found a lot of the inspiration I needed to be able to birth at home. Ina May Gaskin is one of the greatest midwives of our time, I do believe. She is a pioneer in the field, and the Farm still provides services for those who wish a natural birth in more diffcult circumstances like breach or multis.

The talk is real hippie as the women tell their birth stories in the beginning of the book, and I love the spirit of the community and women as they gather together
Victoria Moseley
I cannot get past this this portion of the book, which unfortunately is in the beginning:

“We were a transient population with no desire to leave a trail of debts behind us, and we had an ethic that did not allow us to accept welfare. We were aware that many of our contemporaries were accepting the benefits of the larger society at the same time they were loudly criticizing it, and we had no wish to be associated with this position.”

Excerpt From: Ina May Gaskin. “Spiritual Midwifery.” Book Publis
Sep 02, 2013 Chloe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hippie-shit
This is the second time that I've read through Spiritual Midwifery, and I enjoyed it just as much this time around. The birth stories are incredibly touching, even to someone who doesn't have children and has no intention of getting pregnant any time soon. There is a certain hippy-dippiness to this book that is to be expected, and the language can be hilariously dated and a little off-putting at times, for example everyone seems to be getting high together off of experiences and having telepathi ...more
Jul 24, 2015 Kayla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I'm glad out of all Ina May Gaskin's books I saved this one for last. This book is highly referenced. Everyone seems to have read it so I finally picked it up.

It is...good. It is...I think the best way to describe it is this a book of birth stories written by hippies. Far out, high, tripping, psychedelic hippies. I don't say that as a bad thing. Their stories are interesting and empowering. Their stories are also poorly written and contain a lot of words like "High" and "telepathic" and "
Jul 12, 2013 Alyson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The backbone of the modern-day midwifery revival, Spiritual Midwifery's greatest strength is in portraying life on The Farm and the practical motivation for learning the ancient practice. The book is peppered with personal anecdotes and birth stories, which range from the really far-out to lovely descriptions of souls entering the world. For those of us who have yet to undergo such an experience, there were a few stories that revealed TOO much of the process (where is the mystery, man?). I mainl ...more
Jane Wilson
Sep 03, 2015 Jane Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wish I'd read this before I had my babies. If you can get past the language of the time it's pretty impressive stuff.
Jul 26, 2012 Mariel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-do-not-own
This made me more prepared for the road ahead in pregnancy that most other books. The book has an atmosphere of acceptance and love and it really comforts a person facing the unknown. If you have any fear about your ability to labor and birth, I highly suggest you read this followed by her newer guide to childbirth, then Birthing From Within by Pam England. There is a technical aspect too in the section for midwifes, but it is universal reading material worth your while as a new mom embarking on ...more
Sep 12, 2012 Dawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite childbirth book ever. Yes, it is a 70's hippy book but truth is truth from generation to generation. I love the hippy pics. But even if you don't, this book is packed with so much information, your mind will be on overload. Practical advice, sane advice, safe advice, loving advice. Information, explanations, personal stories, diagrams, illustrations, this book has it all! A real book about real women, real babies, and real births. This book will change how you think about pregnancy a ...more
Oct 15, 2012 Michelle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Holy hippies batman. Look, I went to school in Boulder, Colorado - I know cosmic and am one with the Reiki but this book brings it to a whole new level. I skimmed some of it. Maybe I'm just in the wrong mood, but I was having a hard time getting birth stories from "The Farm" commune to relate to my natural hospital childbirth goal. I found Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds by Cynthia Gabriel to be much, much more helpful for where I am. And some of what they did in the "early day" ...more
Becca Anderson
Jul 20, 2014 Becca Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents-to-be, midwives, doulas, nurses, obstetricians
Recommended to Becca by: Dakota
Spiritual Midwifery is an inside view of home birth. Including a variety of birth stories, as well as instructions for parents and midwives, it is a great first book to read if you are preparing for the birth of your own child or starting your studies as a birth attendant. Ina May Gaskin and her community dismiss all the stigma surrounding pregnancy and the fear surrounding birth, all with information based on experience and scientific research.

Personally, I love that the book encourages researc
Nov 14, 2009 Nathalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
This book started me on my journey toward natural childbirth and other incarnations of hippiness. I found an old copy at the LSU book bazaar one year. At the time, I was not at all interested in having a child(I was young and unattached), but the pictures and stories in this book captivated me. I read it cover to cover and vowed to have a natural birth if ever presented with the choice. When I got pregnant later, I came back to it for inspiration and education. What a long, strange trip it's bee ...more
Brittany Bates
Mar 20, 2015 Brittany Bates rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The purity of birth has been lost in the modern age, where machines and medications take the place of the body's natural instincts. Spiritual Midwifery is such a beautiful reminder of what the female body and soul is capable of. The birth stories are a reminder that we, as women, are capable of carrying and delivering our precious gifts without unnecessary interventions that may harm not only our physical selves but our psyches as well. At the times when western medical intervention is necessary ...more
Jan 03, 2016 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most crunchy granola hippie books I have ever read. I almost stopped reading after the first 50 pages because I wasn't sure I could take one more natural home birth story that used the words"transcendental" and "trippy" and where the auras around people and their energy levels were described so uniquely. However, I ended up learning a tremendous amount from this book and came to have great respect for the midwives who have had tremendous success performing natural childbirths. ...more
Jun 15, 2015 Kaci added it

Such an amazing book! I have always admired Ina May Gaskin for her work in the natural childbirth community, but after reading this book and reading the stories of all of the different births she has experienced I am truly in awe. This is such an inspiring book for any woman seeking to achieve a natural birth experience. It is empowering because it gives you multiple stories of real women and the various labors and outcomes that are possible in childbirth, and how each woman found strengt
Apr 11, 2008 Akhenaten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canonical
It's certainly not the most original thing to say, but I was profoundly changed by Spiritual Midwifery's early edition (created in the 1970s). The latest edition is so significantly different as to count as a separate book, in my mind. Both editions are vital to independent birth knowledge/learning.
Jun 09, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. This was Ina May Gaskin's first book, and is full of a lot of great antecdotes. I actually read it after reading her Breastfeeding and Childbirth books, but I know a lot of people go on from her to read those. Either way, highly recommended.
Nov 23, 2014 Leaf rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think that Ina's husband pushes it with the comments about babies and sexuality. Not everything sensual is sexual. For the rest it was a good and empowering book...particularly for people facing a natural breech birth. Fun 70's language too.
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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
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“When a child is born, the entire Universe has to shift and make room. Another entity capable of free will, and therefore capable of becoming God, has been born.” 5 likes
“Touch is the most basic, the most nonconceptual form of communication that we have. In touch there are no language barriers; anything that can walk, fly, creep, crawl, or swim already speaks it.” 0 likes
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