I think I'm the first _man_ to review this book. In a way that's kind of sad, but hey, I don't mind going first, fellas. Besides, I've reviewed just about everything of Stephen Gaskin's I could find, and it's about time I reviewed Ina May's book.
And here in Ohio we've got a Mennonite midwife named Freida Miller who's doing time in prison. Why? Because she saved the life of a birthing mother by giving her prescription medication without a license. Worse, she's not even in prison for dispensing the meds; she's in prison because she refuses to reveal the name of the doctor who _gave_ her the meds in the first place. This displeases me and causes me to question the legal and pharmaceutical establishments even more than I already did, which is a lot. So consider this review my little blow for the revolution.
Ina May Gaskin wrote the book on midwifery -- four times, in fact, as the fourth edition of the book was published in 2002 and it gets longer every time. The new edition is updated with the usual stuff, including yet more stories from the parents and midwives at the Farm (including some stories from the babies, now all grown up, who were the subjects of the _original_ stories) and a new preface by Ina May. And if you're reading this page, you don't need me to tell you that it's the bible of practical midwifery.
What you may _not_ already know is what a spiritual book it is. Of course the title is _Spiritual Midwifery_, but some readers may be inclined to write that off as hippie jargon. As other reviewers have noted, there is some hippie jargon in the book, but I don't think you should read "around" it or "past" it. You should read _through_ it; it's part of the point. The medium really is sometimes the message, and this is the appropriate language for the concepts Ina May wants to lay on you.
What Ina May wants you to know, what she and the midwives at the Farm have successfully shown for thirty years and counting, is that birthing really is (or can be) a sacrament and that _how we be_ has a profound effect on _how we birth_. As Stephen remarks somewhere, the Farm midwives have successfully demonstrated that _vibes are real_. This is good news and it's important to more than birthing mothers -- even to more than women.
I don't mean to minimize the importance of the practical midwifing aspects of the book, either; it's just that I didn't read the book for that reason myself. (I was present at the births of both of my children, but they were born in the hospital as my wife preferred.)
The thing is, Ina May and Stephen are good people. In fact they manage to be both kind _and_ competent -- a difficult trick and one that I certainly haven't mastered myself. And there are lots of other good people represented in this book, in the stories and in the pictures. (The folks in the photos look like folks you'd want to meet. If you look at them right, you can actually see their souls.)
So this review is partly to help spread the word about midwifery and partly to help spread the word about these good people. Vibes _are_ real, it _does_ matter how we be, and don't let anybody tell you any different.