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4.7 out of 5 stars
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth: Updated With New Material
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2006
Like many first-time expectant moms, I devoured MULTIPLE books on pregnancy and birth before I started Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, but I WISH I HAD READ THIS ONE ***FIRST!!!*** I started with the ubiquitous book that tells you "what to expect", but what I wanted was a book that would TEACH me, not TELL me how I could go about my pregnancy and birth in a way that was educated, informed, self-directed and naturally beautiful! Out of the wealthiest industrialized nations that has one of the worst perinatal mortality rates, Ina May of the US rises like a phoenix, a beacon of hope and light to share with women who want to affirm their bodies' innate ancient wisdom how to give birth powerfully. Filled with first-hand accounts of births, the wealth of her own experience as a midwife (her group was involved in catching some 3000 births with only a 1.4% c-section rate!) and research and citations from current medical journals and reviews, this book is a MUST-READ if you want to take charge of your body, your baby's birth and ask the right questions of your birth care provider! I started my pregnancy convinced that I would only birth in a hospital, but as I began to educate myself, I found that as a low-risk pregnancy, a home birth was truly what I wanted and that it would be the safest place for me to birth my baby. I believe each woman should be able to choose what she wants, and if you want an epidural in a hospital, more power to you, but do yourself and your baby a favor and educate yourself -- learn what an epidural is, what potential complications can occur, how medical technology as intervention in an age-old natural birth process can lead to more interventions that may not be what you bargained for...and also learn how beautiful birth can be, how there is no need for fear of it! Ina May's Guide to Childbirth teaches you what the hospitals and doctors won't take the time to tell you unless you are prepared to ask AND she also teaches you how to view birth as a natural, beautiful, joyful rite with techniques and information to aid birthing that doctors and hospitals may not know and/or advocate. At first, I was afraid of the impending birth of my child. Books like this one helped to inform me and to shed my fears. I have found myself quoting Ina May to others as I find gems in there that even other birth professionals don't know. Ina May has done her homework, has the experience and puts it in a book for all of us to benefit. DO NOT READ ANY OTHER BOOK ON CHILDBIRTH until you've read THIS ONE!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2005
This book is one of the best that I have read. The first half of the book is filled with empowering birth stories, and the last half with some excellent advice and information about the childbirth process.
This book tells you everything you need to know to maximize your chances of having a natural childbirth, from the best positions to labor in to what sounds you should make to help labor progress.
It also gives you unbiased information on the risks and benefits of interventions such as epidurals, episiotomies, and c-sections.
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is a must read for all pregnant women who want to acheive a natural childbirth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2004
I am related by marriage to a midwife, so I have heard the gospel of homebirth for years. But the books she lent me had publication dates from my grade school and junior high years, so I often sneakily wondered--is it still really that bad? Then I started prenatal visits for my own first baby, and yes, it pretty much is. I am going to a doctor to keep an eye out for conditions that would call for the resources of a hospital--but if there aren't any, I'm staying home to have this baby. Read this book and you may decide the same thing.
Without scare tactics, and with plenty of solid data to back her up, Ina May provides a timely antidote for the overly mechanical, overly pharmaceutical way of childbirth that is still the conventional wisdom in most U.S. hospitals. She makes the chilling point that a lot of so-called necessary medical procedures--procedures that can increase the stress and dangers of childbirth--are based on modern physicians' ignorance of how birth really works. Ina May quotes from medical texts written before many of the drugs and procedures now used in "routine" hospital births were invented. The doctors who wrote those old books did something most modern obstetricians have never done: they observed normal births, over and over and over. They took for granted things that have been forgotten by modern medical schools. Ina May combines this old medical model of childbirth with her own vast experience in midwifery to guide you through what really happens during labor and what you (you plural--Mom *and* Dad) really can and should do.
Ina May will steer you safely between the artificial terrors of modern obstetrics and the artificial transcendentalism of many pregnancy handbooks. Her common-sense advice will help you sleep at night and click on a lot of light bulbs over your head. You will close the book feeling the truth of Ina May's pungent closing line: "Your body is not a lemon!"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2004
Since I became pregnant I have been a book hound and I've read several different titles (especially books on Natural Birth). I have found Ina May's book to be the most honest and inspiring! She is not afraid to offend and really tells it like it is! I reference it often and I feel lucky to have read this before labor and delivery. I am very satisfied with this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2014
I give great thanks to our Doula in Sarnia, ON for giving us this resource. Talk of the Farm gave my wife the belief and confidence to let go of her last medicalized birth and get ready for a successful VBAC. Women are fully equipped to have natural birth and should be given the time, space and resources to do so. It goes to show why we should have planned a home birth for our first child. Highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to have a non-drug, non-intervention, natural child birth. A great addition to this book would be the title hypnobirthing also available on amazon. We wish the readers of this much success in your future child births!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2003
I'm currently 29 weeks pregnant with my first child, and I've read a lot of the "bestselling" pregnancy and labor books on the market (i.e. "What to Expect", the Dr. Sears books, etc) but this one blew the rest out of the water when it comes to labor and delivery! Ina May's book explains the importance of psychological readiness for labor and delivery, as well as awesome techniques to overcome the "obstacles" of labor naturally. The first half of the book consists of very inspirational natural birth stories which made me feel prepared and even EXCITED about natural childbirth before I even read the second half of the book.
After reading this book, I decided to switch from using my OBGYN to a midwife instead. My OBGYN is supportive of my decision to try a "natural" childbirth, but her definition of the concept doesn't go beyond "patient doesn't want an epidural". She is totally untrained and unprepared to help me naturally deal with stalled labor, avoiding an episiotomy, delivering a "stuck" baby, etc. I know she would give me drugs or wheel me in for a C-section long before a midwife despite her "supportiveness".
You CAN try the ideas in Ina May's book on your own during labor, without the doctor knowing a thing about natural childbirth, as long as the OB isn't going to argue with what you want to try in the middle of delivery! For example, if baby's shoulders are stuck, most OB's will want to do an immediate C-section; Ina May's book tells you that if you simply turn over on your hands and knees, the baby will most likely slide right out!
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on February 6, 2014
This was very calming. I especially enjoyed the birth story section, which was the second half of the book. There were so many different ways that labour progressed that I felt mine was normal, too, even though it didn't follow what most childbirth manuals say. (had painful cramps every 15 minutes for 2 days before the real thing kicked in... hadn't read about THAT anywhere else)

I reread it before my second child was born. A very soothing way to build confidence that yes, my body can do this! (and even when a birth results in c-section or less invasive procedures, the way it is framed in this book still is a triumph of the woman's body)

I definitely appreciated and used the delightfully named 'law of sphincters' to ease both kids into the world with minimal damage to me.

Fair warning, this book has been described (by me, while lending it to all my pregnant friends) as "hippie-dippy", but if all the crunchy lingo doesn't bother you, it is a wonderful read.
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on May 20, 2004
The warmth, intelligence and humor of Ina May Gaskin really come through in this book, as does her concern with safe and supportive surroundings for all women during birthing. Ina May and her fellow midwives at The Farm are responsible for major research demonstrating the safety of home birth and birthing-center births.
I value this book primarily for giving me a first-person perspective of labor and delivery, in the words of both midwives and birthing women (and their partners). I also felt that the exploration of aspects of birth not usually talked about was great--orgasmic birth, use of nipple and clitoral stimulation to help with labor and delivery, careful pushing and breathing and laboring positions to prevent perineal tears, the pelvic press to help with shoulder distocia, etc. These are topics you won't find in any depth in "What to Expect," etc!
The underlying assumption in this book is that women can give birth naturally if they are prepared, supported and surrounded by fearless and knowledgable labor attendants. Ina May tells us that our bodies can do this, that we have reserves of body and mind that our indutrialized Western culture has discounted, and that we can each reclaim the feminine power of birth.
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on December 31, 2003
I have worked as a Labor & Delivery Nurse for the past 10 plus years. I have taught childbirth education for the past 5 years to couples who want research based factual information on the birth process. I have witnessed the truly miraculous journey many women have embarked upon in giving birth. To my dismay though or should I say disillusionment, many women were introduced to the routine medicalization of birth to help facilitate and expediate the birth process. These routine medical interventions many times were performed for the convenience of the Obstetrician not with the best interests of the laboring woman and baby at heart and left many emotional scars as well as insults to both the mother and to the baby.
Ina May's book explores the options available to women and their families in the childbirth arena. Birth can occur without routine medical interventions! True and factual accounts of births by women are narrated in the first half of this book along with researched, fact based information regarding birth and how it can and should occur. There are options for birth for everyone it can be individualized and completely different for each and everyone.
This is an informative and inspiring book that gets to the heart and soul of what transpires during the birth of a family. I agree as many others have stated that this book is a must read for every childbearing woman out there. I recommend this book to women in my own childbirth education classes. I have been transpired and mainly inspired by the birth stories presented along with Ina May's account of childbirth in the past, present and what lies ahead for the future. I now teach my childbirth classes with more heart, inspiration and fevere since reading this great book.
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on September 29, 2003
I was cautiously optimistic in reading this book as so many I have read (and I have read hundreds of perinatal books) fall short of my expectations. Ina May's Guide not only is superb, it is exactly what I have been looking for for years. A book not about the basics of modern technological birth, but of its essence - a normal, life affirming process. The birth process that has been repeated since the beginning of humanity with rarely a mishap... unless interfered with. Sadly todays birth is mired in interference as proven by the dismal morbidity (and I include cesarean section as morbidity, Ina May has proven in her own statistics the true rarity that major abdominal surgery should be used for birth) and mortality statistics in North America. I have been a birth professional since 1997 and recently gave birth to my fourth child a VBA3C (vaginal birth after three cesareans) and it was because of women like Ina May that I support women and have regained my own trust in my body which had been taken from me by modern obstetrics in their bid for efficiency.
This is not a homebirth book, but rather a book for all women, regardless of birth place or attendant, to learn about how our bodies work and in making informed decisions based on well documented evidence without the often one-sided advice of medical oriented authors.
This is one of the true gems that ranks at the top along with the Canadian hallmark Pregnancy and Birth: The Best Evidence by Barrett and Pitman and Henci Goer's book The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. Learn from the most amazing midwife this century has to offer.
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