Book Review: “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin


One of the most popular books about natural childbirth is Ina May Gaskin’s “Guide to Childbirth”. Ina May Gaskin was one of the midwives that helped women birth their babies on The Farm. The Farm is an intentional community founded in 1971 in Tennessee. People living on The Farm now and then may just be more likely to seek out a natural birth because of their chosen life. However, Ina May believes that almost any woman who wants to have a natural birth can do so even if they don’t live on The Farm.

Full of Beautiful Birth Stories

The first half of Gaskin’s book is a collection of positive and empowering birth stories. Gaskin reasons that you hear enough scary birth stories from TV, the media, and even your friends. In order to build a positive mindset towards having a natural birth, it’s necessary to replace all of those scary stories with good ones. After all, birth is not supposed to be scary at all. Instead, it is an exciting, empowering journey that prepares women perfectly for motherhood. After all, birth isn’t just a happy event, it can even be an orgasmic one.

Women Can Give Birth Naturally

The second portion of the book covers essential truths about natural childbirth. Ina May stresses the mind-body connection first and foremost. For example, if the birthing woman feels anxious and scared, then it will be difficult or even impossible for her to give birth naturally. Bright lights and a room full of people you don’t know will certainly make you anxious and can cause labor to stall at the hospital.

An interesting connection that Gaskin makes is the connection between  your mouth and throat and your cervix and vagina because your sphincters are connected. Relaxing your mouth and throat will help you do the same down below. That’s one of the reasons low-pitched moans are more helpful during birth. If your labor isn’t progressing, laughing might help. The key is to help the laboring mother relax her body in order to do what comes natural.

It Starts with Prenatal Care

Gaskin doesn’t leave out the importance of nutrition in her chapter on prenatal care. It’s certainly true that modern prenatal care completely ignores this aspect of pregnancy and instead uses ultrasound and other methods to control the outcome of the pregnancy. Gaskin lists several concerns about the use of ultrasound, CVS, and induction of labor. In general, those shouldn’t be used without a really good reasons, and certainly not as routinely as they are being used in maternity care today.

I agree with many things that Ina May Gaskin has to say about childbirth. She is definitely not a fan of unnecessary interventions, including episiotomies, C-sections, ultrasounds, inductions, and more. Instead, she encourages laboring mothers to listen to their primal instincts for a good birth experience. She even has a few beautiful illustrations in her book that showcase helpful birthing positions.

Importance of Choosing the Right Provider

Women who have supportive midwives like Ina May Gaskin can count themselves lucky. And many midwives today still practice this way, allowing women to have a natural birth and enjoying the ecstasy that comes right afterwards. Ina May stresses the importance of choosing the right provider for your birth if you want to have a natural birth.

Conclusion: this book is definitely worth reading if you haven’t read it already.