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Ina May's Guide to Childbirth: Updated With New Material

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There are specific examples given of when, and the author's insights as to why, certain natural methods achieve success in labor. Long story short (seriously, I just wrote my whole birth saga in 10 long paragraphs and deleted them because this is a BOOK REVIEW), my birth did not go according to plan either. Ina May made me terrified of mainstream medicine's approach to birth, and the book got hard to read at a certain point because I was like, "Yeah, sure, this birth would be wonderful if I were doing it on Ina May's hippie commune, but since I'm doing it in a shitty Miami hospital those doctors are going to cut me up into pieces and mess up my baby with all kinds of unnecessary and frightening interventions. This book does give some good information about helping labor progress and some of what she says makes sense to me. Positive stories shared by women who have had wonderful childbirth experiences are an irreplaceable way to transmit knowledge of a woman's true capacities in pregnancy and birth.

My wife and I have two boys: she carried and birthed the oldest; I carried and birthed the youngest. With Gaskin’s timeless wisdom, you can approach birth with confidence and excitement, wherever and however it happens.I guess that's not a really bad thing, because it did pump me up for childbirth, but as Gaskin constantly refers to her experience birthing women on "The Farm" (I can't help but think of it in semi-sarcastic quotation marks), I kept thinking how her sample is made up of very naturalistic, in-touch women (read: hippies) and a woman like myself is likely to have a different experience in childbirth, even given the fact that my body really knows what to do. I think she makes traditional clinical medicine and those that work in that field unnecessarily sterile and frightening while painting midwives and homebirth with rose colored glasses. Unfortunately, the vast majority of it was filled with messages of female empowerment and a clear bias against anything having to do with modern medicine.

Genesis 3:16 (ESV) says “To the woman he said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Ultimately the reality is that every mother's experience is different, and there's no technique, approach, or solution that works for everyone. 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.I find it refreshing to read something so real that attempts to turn our stereotypical hospital birth routine upside-down. 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 hospital birth. As for birth stories, listen to the podcast “the birth hour” because they birth stories are better AND you’ll learn most of what the rest of the book discusses without the clear bias against hospitals. She has lectured all over the world at midwifery conferences and at medical schools, both to students and to faculty.

The benefits of medical tests were skimmed over while the possible harm of these tests was thoroughly covered. I'm not squeamish, I'm a nurse, but as a woman trying to prepare to have a baby in a few months I don't want to fill my head with stories and statistics about women who die in the process of labor; unnecessary stress and certainly not empowering for me. I plan to go without pain meds for as long as I can but if labor goes on too long, or gets to be too much, or if I have to be induced (which is looking likely) I am open to the meds.Childbirth is empowering because it shows the connection between God’s decrees and His blessings, not simply because women are strong. We are experiencing delays with deliveries to many countries, but in most cases local services have now resumed. So many horror stories circulate about birth--especially in the United States--that it can be difficult for women to believe that labor and birth can be a beneficial experience. While she does in many places provide good information, do not be fooled into thinking she is at all, in any way an objective or unbiased resource! Her new book, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth was released 4 March 2003 by Bantam/Dell, a division of Random House.

One tip: the author claims you'll get through your contractions better if you express words of love to your partner during them. 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. We looked him over, then gave him to Joanne to weigh and dress while Deborah and Pamela gave me two stitches for a small tear.Still, I would recommend reading Henci Goer's book in conjunction with this for a slightly more even-handed, useful approach to the topic. The first half of the book is a compilation of natural childbirth stories written by mothers who've either done it at The Farm, or somehow in conjunction with the author. The only indications of my pregnancy were that I missed my March and April periods and my clothes were a little tight around my waist. Finally, in the seventh month, the doctor said there could be no Leboyer birth,* after leading me to believe all these months there would be.

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