Friday, August 13, 2010

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

Ina May Gaskin

Finished Reading: 07.2010

Ever wonder what it's like to give birth? As a man, I have no idea, but I found this collection of birth stories to be incredibly useful and encouraging - and is nothing like you think you know unless you've done it. Often birth finds itself between the restrictive limits of medical recommendation and what is truly possible. This book chronicles what many women have to say about the story of their baby's birth. This isn't just speculation, averages, statistics or norms - these are the actual stories of incredible natural births, something that is often overlooked as possible.

Ina May is a midwife at a rural birthing center in Tennessee. Along with her fellow midwives, she delivers dozens (hundreds?) of natural births each year, and they all seem to come into the world differently. Women flock to this birthing mecca, seeking a counter-cultural environment of peace and harmony - allowing what is natural to take place without much intervention.

Some women have had different experiences with previous labors and seek the natural alternative on The Farm. Dissatisfied with the cold assembly line nature of the typical hospital, these women believe that nature has provided for the female body to embrace the labor process and help them birth a baby without the help of increasingly overused technology. Some things are not improved by the constant push of industry. The typical birth experience is certainly different than a typical life saving emergency, though you wouldn't know it by the way they are similarly handled.

While a home birth or natural birthing center experience isn't for everyone, books like this open our eyes to what else is out there. There is more to birth than the television hospital variety that ranges from pristine babies emerging from behind a sheet (already disconnected from the placenta, fat and chubby) to screaming horrors - women on their backs, strapped to the table, babies being extracted rather than born. As seen here, birth can happen quietly. The first breath of a human in the presence of people who really care, should be noteworthy not strange.