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review by harryjone

One of the very few stipulations my wife made after we learned we were going to have a child is that I read this book by the doyenne of natural childbirth in the U.S. While the tone of the book is much too touchy-feely/hippyish for me, I have to admit that it is well worth reading regardless of whether you're planning a natural childbirth or a fully tech'ed out hospital one. That said, it would be very easy to read it as gospel and get swept up in its giddy repudiation of modern medicine, so one should approach it with, if not a skeptical eye, at least with one's critical faculties fully engaged. There is also the potential that readers who are fully committed to a hospital birth may come away from this book feeling scolded, or as if their decision is somehow "wrong".

The author is a superstar in the field of natural childbirth, largely as a result of her 35+ years work at "The Farm", a kind of birthing commune in Tennessee. 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. While these are certainly useful as illustrative examples of how it all goes down, they tend to get rather repetitive and could certainly stand to be scaled back a bit. And for those who know little about the birthing process, some of the terminology can be unclear. Finally, for those who might want to read this book on the subway (like me), be forewarned that there are some pretty graphic photos of childbirthing in this section.

The second half of the book walks the reader through the entire process, mostly with the aim of explaining why modern medical childbirthing procedures are not based on the mother's health and needs, but are designed for convenience of the medical establishment. Stuff like epidurals, amnios, fetal monitoring, pitocin, forceps, vacuum extractors, etc. all come under sustained assault. Gaskin makes a convincing case for most of her criticism, with plenty of good examples from historical texts and anthropological research. Perhaps the most striking and compelling examples come from studies of childbirthing in modern Scandinavia. Sometimes Gaskin stretches a little to far in her attempt to debunk every single medical procedure and doesn't always have the most current data. For example, Rhogham does not have any mercury whatsoever any more, and the danger from amniocentesis is vastly overstated. However, simply in terms of the debate over natural childbirth vs. hospital birth, it's awfully hard to argue with the data she's gathered from thousands of natural childbirths.

Ultimately the reality is that every mother's experience is different, and there's no technique, approach, or solution that works for everyone. That said, the book did a pretty good job of convincing me that the mother's mental approach to childbirthing and expectations for the experience are the single most important indicator of how it will all go.

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A must for pregnant women and their partners

review by nikity

I love this book and have recommended it to every pregnant woman I know. My husband also read most of it while I was pregnant. And we did end up with a smooth natural birth.

I found two things particularly helpful.

1. All of the birth stories in the front of the book are great for getting you into a positive state of mind about birth. They're not all perfect, blissed out births (though maybe most are), but you will walk away from reading them feeling like you CAN do this. Ask a random woman on the street about her birth experience and, unfortunately, you're probably going to hear some kind of rough story. C-section rates are wildly high in most hospitals, births are treated like medical problems, blah blah blah...so OF COURSE most stories you hear are negative. It is so important to read and hear positive stories and this book can provide them.

2. The chapter on sphincter law is something every pregnant woman should read. Ina May has put together some info there that is fascinating and makes sense on an intuitive level even before you give birth and put it into action.

ProsCons
Contains info I haven't see anywhere elseProbably a little crunchy for some...

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Amazing, amazing, amazing

review by dreadymama916

Aside from my doula, this was the most indisposable wealth of information that I found during my pregnancy. Ina May is an amazing woman, a down-to-earth writer, and an inspiration for pregnant women. With the information in this book, I was aided in having an amazing labor and completely natural birth, exactly what I had hoped for. Throughout my pregnancy I worked in a book store, where I reccomended this book to every pregnant women whom I spoke with. Excellent book!

ProsCons
Incredibly informative. None

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Excellent if not a bit idealistic and anti-hospital

review by p.j.

I loved this book for all the reasons you'll read in the other raving reviews. However, I feel it's wise to keep in mind that Ina May is like THE goddess of midwifery, and her results and experiences are not representative of what realistically every woman can expect -even with the best of intentions and the best midwife you can find.

I had visualized the perfect natural home birth a la Ina May, but the universe had other plans for us. I ended up in hospital with a cesarean, absolutely necessary after all else did not work. I feel the whole experience was made harder for me to digest due to reading this and other idealistic natural birth books. I was left to feel like it was all my fault that my body was not able to give birth naturally in water at home, because it seems like if we follow Ina May's guidance there's no reason it can't happen that way. And look at her results: a 2% cesarean rate in her practice!

This book is good for what it is, and I don't see how Ina May could improve it. Just be realistic and remember that not every woman can have a perfect natural birth. Positive books like this are desperately needed to balance out all the over-medicalized pictures of birth we are fed in our culture, so it fulfills that need well. But if you do end up not being able to have the natural birth you envisioned, Ina May leaves you on your own to work it out. Fine. That's not her job. Just be aware. She is also extremely anti-hospital which I find unrealistic. These days there are plenty of pro-natural birth hospitals which support a woman in birthing as she wants to, and Ina May does not acknowledge this in the name of promoting home birth. IMO that is not a very balanced view. he hospital where I gave birth was wonderful and did every last thing they could to prevent my cesarean. But again, Ina May is who she is and the world needs her to be that way, so I am not necessarily criticizing her for that. Just a word to the wise: not all births turn out this way and there are further resources out there for us who desperately wanted a natural birth but didn't get it.

ProsCons
very positive view of birth, useful informationtoo idealistic, no other midwives except Ina May get a 2% cesarean rate! Not very realistic to expect every birth to be this way, too anti-hospital

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Great book with positive birth stories.

review by funny face

I loved reading this book while pregnant. It's an easy read and starts with the birth stories. Even though there was a lot of focus on the midwives themselves it seemed it was a chance to steep myself in some birth imagery and visualize what my birth might be like. I'm reading it again this pregnancy.

I was not a fan of Spiritual Midwifery but this one I loved.

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Very inspiring book - a must read for expectant mamas!!!

review by believer04

This was the best book I read during pregnancy! I am a first-time mom, and as I was preparing for my homebirth, it was really important to me to read positive birth stories. My midwife has several copies of this book, so I decided to borrow one. I couldn't put it down! The birth stories are truly inspiring, and reinforced in my mind and heart that a natural birth would be possible for my baby and me. I am so glad that I was blessed to see just how safe homebirth can be and just how dangerous hospital birth can be and why. This book showed me that, and I am really grateful for it!

ProsCons
Positive birth stories, detailed statistics, great homebirth and birth center versus hospital info

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I'm Glad I Read This Book!

review by julee

I'm really glad I read this book before I had my son. I had him in a hospital with a doula. I think that the real birth stories and information in this book really got me through some of the tough parts of my labor, because I knew that what I was going through was normal. I used some of the things that the women in the real birth stories used like changing positions and the sphincter law. I am sure this book helped me achieve the birth I wanted. Yes, this book is a bit "crunchy" as another reviewer put it and occasionally a little graphic, but I think natural childbirth is that way in real life anyway. It's good to read about the reality of birth instead of going into labor without understanding how it works.

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This Book Changed My Outlook

review by elluin

This book changed my feelings about birth from insecurity and worry to confidence. This book was the turning point in my pregnancy - I started out pregnancy thinking I would have a medicated hospital birth, but later switched to a homebirth. I had an amazing birth experience at home, which would not have been possible without the attitude change that started with Ina May's Guide to Childbirth.

ProsCons
Gave me confidence to birth naturally

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I love this book!

review by mamaofliam

I bought this book shortly after we found out I was pregnant. I thought I'd probably finish it by the time I gave birth to our DS. Nope! I finished in about 2 weeks! I loved every part. Especially the birth stories. They were all so beautiful, some had me in tears. This book is very positive and empowering. It is the one book I would recommend to all pregnant women. And even though I finished it in 2 weeks, I found myself rereading many chapters of the book. I can't say enough good things about it.

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Amazing!!

review by 1love4ever

This book is a MUST for all women even thinking of having a baby! It contains information that you will not find anywhere else(that I know of). I already had one child and I thought I had researched pretty well last time about labor/delivery. I really wish I would have found this book last time, because I didn't know anything compared to what I know now!

And I did not think that this book was anti-hospital at all! It definatly talks about when a woman needs to go to the hospital and when it is not safe to give birth at home.

ProsCons
Everything!I would like even more in depth information

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This book is empowering

review by thegreenbeagle

Stop reading reviews and go pick up this book. I think every woman of childbearing age should read the birth stories. They may not be for everyone (i.e. calling contractions "rushes") but this books provides an amazing perspective of what birth can be like. Ina May's information is evidence based and it would be great if more women knew the knowledge she tries to impart through this book.

ProsCons
birth stories, evidence based information

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Get a copy and start reading!!

review by maself

When I first got this book, I wanted to skip all the birthing stories in the beginning of the book and get to the second half of the book, the "science" of birthing. But, I forced myself to read all the stories and I am SO SO glad I did!! It allowed me to have a MOST AMAZING, EMPOWERING birth. Even my 11 year old daughter wanted to read the book. We were fighting over the book! It helped her a lot too since she ended up having to assist the birth of her baby brother... He decided to enter the world in a rush and he beat the mid-wife and my husband so she was the main one who attended me and she did an AWESOME job!

ProsCons
EMPOWERING!!!!!

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Perfect for shifting your mindset!

review by mommel

I was so thrilled to read this book. While I wanted a home birth, I was so afraid that every book I would encounter on the subject would be too hippy-dippy for me... especially one that was written when it was by Ina May (from her hippy-dippy commune started in the seventies - LOL). The whole "don't judge a book by its cover" thing really applied here for me. The whole first half of the book is full of home birth stories and it really managed to shift my mindset away from the fear that had been driven into me since childhood that childbirth is painful and needs to be tended to by a doctor, that women can't do it themselves without help... after reading this I really believed that I could do it, have a home birth... right to my core. Remembering those stories during labor really helped strengthen my resolve and I was able to do it too!!

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Very helpful.

review by dayiscoming2006

I've found the book overall very informative on natural childbirth. It is anti-hospital unless deemed necessary. I totally agree with that. Many of the birth stories are enjoyable to read. Some are a bit weird for me.

I am not hippy, spiritual, whatever. So, those parts annoyed me a bit. I also do not believe in evolution, so any comments related to that got on my nerves as well. I'm a Christian - firm in my beliefs. I'm looking forward to my second homebirth.

ProsCons
Gives lots of useful information.Too crunchy.

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Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

Description:
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 of Care, Ina May's Guide to Natural Childbirth gives expectant mothers comprehensive information on everything from the all-important mind-body connection to how to give birth without technological intervention. Filled with inspiring birth stories and practical advice, this invaluable resource includes:• Reducing the pain of labor without drugs--and the miraculous roles touch and massage play• What really happens during labor• Orgasmic birth--making birth pleasurable • Episiotomy--is it really necessary? • Common methods of inducing labor--and which to avoid at all costs• Tips for maximizing your chances of an unmedicated labor and birth• How to avoid postpartum bleeding--and depression • The risks of anesthesia and cesareans--what your doctor doesn't necessarily tell you• The best ways to work with doctors and/or birth care providers• How to create a safe, comfortable environment for birth in any setting, including a hospital• And much moreIna May's Guide to Natural Childbirth takes the fear out of childbirth by restoring women's faith in their own natural power to give birth with more ease, less pain, and less medical intervention.

Details:
DetailValue
AuthorIna May Gaskin
BindingPaperback
Dewey Decimal Number618.45
EAN9780553381153
Edition1
FeatureNotes: BRAND NEW FROM PUBLISHER! BUY WITH CONFIDENCE, Over one million books sold! 98% Positive feedback. Compare our books, prices and service to the competition. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed
ISBN0553381156
LabelBantam
LanguagesEnglish
List Price$18.00
ManufacturerBantam
Number Of Items1
Number Of Pages368
Product GroupBook
Product Type NameABIS_BOOK
Publication Date2003-03-04
PublisherBantam
StudioBantam
TitleIna May's Guide to Childbirth
Release Date2003-03-04
 

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