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Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  1,611 Ratings  ·  132 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
Paperback, 250 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by Seven Stories Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Apr 05, 2011 added it
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 !!
Nicole Handy
Aug 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 26, 2012 rated it liked it
(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
Apr 06, 2014 rated it liked it
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
May 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: health, parenting
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
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"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.
Nov 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 marked it as to-read
Shelves: parenting
One day...I will visit the Farm!
Elise Reding
Jun 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Such an empowering and informative book to read during pregnancy!
Laura Brading
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: solid-non-fic
Ina May Gaskin is the absolute queen of birth books and I urge anyone who is about to give birth or is thinking about giving birth or supporting someone giving birth to read her books. During my first pregnancy, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth was my bible and I would evangelically (and probably very annoyingly) tell anyone even slightly interested about it. Birth Matters is made up of the same wisdom as the guide, although I must say the latter seems more essential and intended for mothers-to-be. ...more
Elke de Echte
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mowgli
Overall this manifesta confirms my feminist gut feeling that birth should be empowering to a woman, as it is the most sincere manifestation of her divine bodily nature. Putting the whole hospitalised pathology of being pregnant into the perspective of patriarchal power struggle – even tracing it back to the times of witch hunt – makes her point all the more clear: Birth Matters! The art of midwifery is not extinct and is here to remind us of our most innate capacity as a woman. Although clearly ...more
Victoria Haf
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Esta es más una crítica a la medicalización del embarazo y el parto pero te ayuda a tener confianza en que tu cuerpo sabe que hacer, es parte de la bibliografía que me sirvió para tener un parto natural sin anestesia y con el mínimo de intervención pero no lo considero tan útil como otros que son más descriptivos de las etapas.
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Nice "modern" updated conversation about childbirth issues with the legendary Ina May. Not my favorite of her books, but a rockin' solid. I especially appreciated her call for unity on one non-divisive issue: tracking maternal deaths in our country so we can learn from it. My fav part of the book was Ani's intro.
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read in last few days of pregnancy, not a great one for prepping for pregnancy, more about the trials of women and the fight by Ina may gaskin for what she believes is right in America and the terrible current standards. Interesting read but no need to read again.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The content was getting better and better as I read it through. I did not know the consequence of breast augmentation surgery, which has a risk for leakage into breast milk. There are so many social issues to be addressed such as maternal mortality at hospital delivery. It is highly informative!!
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ina May is a badass. I loved what she had to say about men and birth.
Sarah Gordon
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was outstanding - highly recommend to ANYONE. This information is so valuable and not taught enough.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great collection of resources and information from the infamous Ina May. Great resource for any mama-to-be; very readable.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fantastic! Ina May Gaskin motivates me with her vision, she's so inspiring!
Leigh Abernethy
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put this book down. It reignited my inner spark for my passion for midwifery and gave me the boost that my career needed.
Marina Cumoletti
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's Ina May so it was perfect as always
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Mothers and mothers-to-be
Recommended to Taylor by: Anastasia
I would recommend that anyone read this book, but it is an absolute must-read for any woman who is a mother, wants to be a mother, or is pregnant and in the process of becoming a mother. I feel really fortunate that a family friend gave me this book when she learned I was pregnant, and I finished it in my ninth month, just when my pregnancy had reached full term and I was ready for my little bundle to arrive. When I started the book, I was planning on having a natural, intervention- and drug-fre ...more
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Lisa C
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Vanessa Pruitt
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Ina May Gaskin has a point: why is childbirth so medicalized and why does it seem like the hospitals are just treating to turn a profit? On the other hand, if you think The Farm has only motives of good intentions and altrusim, I encourage you to at least go read the wikipedia page about it.

The problem she identifies of not using evidence-based medicine is not just a problem for women and for the area of child birth; it is a problem in all aspects of medicine. I can't cite you a source for it, b
Mar 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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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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“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.” 24 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.” 18 likes
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