Ahhh, the gold standard for expecting home birth mamas! It’s true, everyone should read this gem of a book to explore the wisdom of Ina May Gaskin. In Guide to Childbirth, Gaskin uses birth stories and informative narrative to instruct expectant moms and midwives on natural childbirth. Once again, the beauty is in Gaskin’s language circling birth and the choices women make around their birth(s).
Chapter Four, Sphincter Law, was my visual guide during my first birth. I’m positive it was also my midwife’s gauge during the pushing stage. Of course many women find that the birth stories provide invaluable information and inspiration.
Chapter Three focuses on how we view pain and fear during childbirth. After three home births, I am consistently asked how I managed the pain of childbirth. In America, the images of childbirth that are in mainstream media, told around the kitchen table or shared in the workplace are often riddled with horror and pain. Gaskin paints a different picture of birth and the pain associated with labor. As my birth teacher says, “It’s pain with purpose.” Yes and yes!
Ina May also suggests many tools and techniques to cope with the pain and fear often associated with childbirth. Gaskin provides evidence and potential side effects if one chooses to medicate in an effort to avoid pain associated with birth. This is key. I hear many women share that they didn’t realize what would happen after they chose medication during childbirth. Ask questions. Always.
Although the information and stories in a Guide to Childbirth are timeless, approachable, and accurate, I do wish the stories were more contemporary and encompassing of a variety of women. Again, this isn’t a criticism, just an observation that frankly doesn’t matter as I was initially inspire to take the home birth journey thanks to Ina May!