Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
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Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

4.44 of 5 stars 4.44  ·  rating details  ·  6,658 ratings  ·  1,169 reviews
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 o...more
Kindle Edition, 370 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2003)
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Kristen H.
Jun 15, 2012 Kristen H. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kristen by: one of my patients
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 deliv...more
Rachel
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 & interv...more
Rebecca
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 Ma...more
kristin
Ina May Gaskin has got to be the wisest woman alive. I try to soak in everything she says because it all makes perfect sense, and it's all so empowering. I think a major complaint about this book is that it repeats some things from other books she's written. It's true, but the stuff she repeats bears repeating. There are women (like me) who need to hear these things as often as possible.
In addition to being informative and enjoyable, this book also saved me from completely losing my mind after...more
Sharon
Jul 14, 2007 Sharon rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: anyone who wants a new way of looking at pregnancy and childbirth
Shelves: parenting, childbirth
This book made me think about pregnancy and childbirth in a whole new way. The author is a midwife and one of the founders of The Farm commune. She talks about creating a culture where women aren't afraid to give birth, and consequently don't experience labor as a painful, negative experience. The book has interviews with over a hundred women who tell their birth stories, many of which are exhilarating.

That said, it's important to take the book with a large grain of salt, especially for those g...more
Danielle
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 no...more
Louise
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 hospit...more
Wendy
Mar 11, 2012 Wendy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Anyone hoping for a natural childbirth
Recommended to Wendy by: Prenatal yoga instructor
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 becam...more
Justin
Jul 03, 2008 Justin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: expecting or potential parents
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...more
Kristen
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...more
Reina
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 childbi...more
Kathy Kenney
If only one birthing book were to be read in pregnancy, this should be it. I highly recommend.
Kirsten
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 move...more
Eileen
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...more
Jennifer
Oct 25, 2009 Jennifer rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: anyone interested in natural childbirth
Recommended to Jennifer by: my midwife
The midwife lent me a whole stack of books (and is always pushing me to take more), but so far the only one I've read cover-to-cover is this one. And I'm wishing I'd read this before I had Jefferson.

Roughly the first half of this book is birth stories. Almost all of them are midwife-assisted births at The Farm, a village/commune in Tennessee, mostly just in homes without a lot of special equipment. Very few of the births had to be transported to the hospital, though those are represented as well...more
Genevieve
I appreciated the education I gained from reading this book. I was interested in the possibilities of natural childbirth and this really helped me get a feel for others' experiences as well as some expert advice from Ina May who has helped so many women bring babies into this world. I didn't feel like she was necessarily pushing an agenda, other than to make it clear to women that they have options and there are many good ones. :) Hoping for the best with this baby!
Heather
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 d...more
Stephen
Ina May argues that birth shouldn't normally take place in a hospital. She argues that the hospitals have a place to help with true emergencies, but we as a society have made hospital births as a norm and often to our detriment.

Ina May argues that birth is something that a woman's body is designed to do, and in most cases it is the woman's body that should be listened to and empowered (or maybe acknowledge the power of a woman's body). From things like environment, understanding the natural proc...more
Kate
It's pretty easy to see why this is a classic. Ina May is a bad ass and her ground breaking work has changed how women have babies for the better. This book starts off with birth stories from women who gave birth at "The Farm" - which sounds pretty much like a hippie commune - but the stories are great to read because they all end in a healthy, unmedicated birth. When you are pregnant for the first time, you hear terrible stories constantly, it's great to have a source of positive experiences to...more
Tom Panning
This was the first book I read on natural childbirth, and it was a good introduction. My wife didn't like the old birth stories (from the '70s), so I focused on the ones from the '90s and later, which was about a third of them. It helped me (as a man) understand a little about the birth process, and it was good to see the accounts of other people. In this book, Ina May focuses on what a woman and her body is capable of and how best to help a birth without interfering too much. She also talks abo...more
Mimi
This book could change your life. Seriously. At least if you are an average American/Canadian woman who has been raised to believe that childbirth is a dangerous procedure that requires specialists to be present to save your life and your baby's life.

This book introduced me to a completely different childbirthing culture that I had previously been completely ignorant of, and I found it fascinating and empowering. It has changed my entire perception of delivery to discover that there are many peo...more
Maralyn
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 plan...more
Jasmin
What a fabulous book and guide! The first half of the book are all stories about people's natural child births. I thought these were very interesting and I enjoyed reading them. It seems like everyone's childbirth experiences are unique and individualized and this book made me excited rather than scared about delivering my baby boy in several months. The second half of the book is packed with useful information regarding the labor and birthing process as well as comparisons and insights as to ho...more
Carissa
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 sto...more
Danielle
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 hel...more
Elisabeth M
Ina May Gaskin is the pillar of modern midwifery. I would recommend her books to anyone with any interest in childbirth, as well as anyone who wants to explore certain undiscussed dimensions of what it means to be a woman.

In the mainstream, birth is considered a medical event which takes place in a hospital and involves some amount of medical intervention, ranging from drugs to surgery. Traditionally, meanwhile, birth has been considered a healthy, normal process that most women can do safely wi...more
Melissa
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 sto...more
Erin
As far as I'm concerned, this is a must read for any one dedicated to the idea of having a natural childbirth experience (men--read it too so you can support your lady's decision & cheer her on!). You really do need to mentally prepare and Ina Mae is wonderful at providing both information and supporting statistics to encourage women and make you think about the choices you have; and the real life stories from the mothers she's helped truly do turn into helpful tools so you can say "i can do...more
Holly
This is the holy grail for natural childbirth.* I had read and heard so much about Ina May Gaskin by the time this book was finally available at the library that I felt like some weird superfan. After finishing the book today, I fully embrace my superfandom. I admit it: I'm a Gaskin groupie.

The one thing I would change is to flip the order of Part I and Part II. Part I is over 100 pages of real women's labor and birth stories, most of which took place at The Farm (the TN commune that Gaskin and...more
Hayden
This is a hippie birth book I really liked. Ina May is a major midwife guru. She's been running a place called The Farm outside of Nashville for decades, where approximately 7 billion babies have been born without C-section, episiotomy, vaccum, forceps, etc.

The book starts out with a lot of birth stories, which were interesting. The stories made me glad I'm seeing midwives, but not necessarily sorry I'll have an epidural available, as most of the stories contain a line similar to "And that was t...more
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inspiring! 2 18 Dec 11, 2007 05:40PM  
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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
More about Ina May Gaskin...
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“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.” 79 likes
“It is important to keep in mind that our bodies must work pretty well, or their wouldn't be so many humans on the planet.” 24 likes
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