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Spiritual Midwifery

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  5,560 ratings  ·  444 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 technique
Paperback, 4th, 482 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Book Publishing Company (TN) (first published January 1st 1975)
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My purpose for reading this book is to brush up on childbirth and strategies to support my partner during her pregnancy and labor. For that, I got less out of this book than I did with Ina May's other book, "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth".

"Spiritual Midwifery" was Ina May's first book and there's no doubt that it and she have been seminal in bringing midwifery and home births back to the fore of modern society. This book is groundbreaking in its own right but it ended up being more of a biograph
Oct 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
"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
Nov 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I first read this classic, beautiful handbook for home birth while writing MIDWIVES in 1995. I reread it this week because rehearsals of my stage adaptation of the novel begin December 26 at the George Street Playhouse. Hoping some of you get to see it. Starring as Sibyl Danforth? Ellen McLaughlin, the original Angel in ANGELS IN AMERICA. The play is directed by the brilliant David Saint.
Danger Kallisti
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 16, 2007 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
Emily Marks
Jul 13, 2011 added it
Shelves: birthing
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,
Sharon E.
Feb 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-but-unowned
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
May 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: spiritual people
Shelves: own
I imagine that if I considered myself "spiritual" in any way, I'd be another 5-star reviewer. But I am a skeptic, a scientist, and an atheist -- basically, the opposite of spiritual.

My Kindle notes turned from "ugh" (the Buddhist monk rolling around in the pink baby blanket... a photo of a wise older man in a white coat and stethoscope punctuating a story about God helping out midwives) to curses when one mother says that she, her husband, and Ina May "prayed" over a blue, motionless baby while
Antoinette Maria
Jun 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 rated it liked it
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
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Love me some Ina May. Guide to Childbirth remains the more down-to-earth, accessible read.
Pia Sophia
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
What a lovely book! The birth stories truly are amazing and the pictures and drawings are just so cute! Some of the advice given is outdated (I mean, who in their right mind would drink vodka to stop premature labour?) but nonetheless entertaining and nice to read. I just love Ina May.
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Victoria Moseley
Dec 28, 2015 rated it liked it
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
May 20, 2015 rated it liked it
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 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Apr 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A trippy hippy book about Ina May and her adventures at "The Farm" including homebirth midwifery and the works. It is an honest, graphic book (well, it's natural birth, what do you expect?).

Insightful, educational, beautifully written.
Jan 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-moms
My favorite book on pregnancy. I used it each time I was pregnant and it really did help tremendously. It really helped to make the whole experience more spiritual and meaningful and enjoyable. Wonderful pictures as well.
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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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