When I first began to think about natural childbirth, one book popped up over and over again in my research – Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth. I recognized Ina May instantly as the midwife “guru” from the documentary “The Business of Being Born” and was incredibly excited to read what she had to say.
Natural birth, up until now, has been a little bit of an enigma for me. As I’ve mentioned before, all I knew of childbirth with my last three kids was what I learned through my OB’s and hospitals. Induction for pretty much no reason seemed perfectly acceptable to them, and it was convenient for me, so I went with it. Epidurals and drugs? Whatever, I didn’t want to feel pain and women do it all the time and their babies turned out just fine. I was happy just taking what was being fed to me and not exploring any research or options.
So when I watched The Business of Being Born, I had a very similar reaction to when I learned more about the processed food industry. WOW! Have I been a pawn in the big medical system all this time? I couldn’t believe how uninformed I was. I had no idea that pitocin caused monster contractions that made unmedicated birth extremely painful (but now, it makes sense). I had no idea that this, plus an epidural, lowered my blood pressure and caused the baby to go into distress. All of these things happened to me with EACH pregnancy, and I was apparently VERY lucky to not have ended up in the operating room having a c-section.
The thing I loved about Ina May’s book is that the entire first half is devoted to nothing but positive stories of women giving birth naturally. I was in awe of these women, the photos of them smiling as their baby’s head emerged, not screaming and writhing like in the movies or tv. Something I have learned on my own is just how much all the negative horror stories and depictions of birth affect us women set to give birth. The imagery creates fear, and then when it’s time to give birth, the fear actually CREATES pain. The mind is so incredibly powerful over the body, and when we fear childbirth, we tense up, and we experience more pain than necessary. Ina May goes into great detail with stories of women and how just saying something positive outloud can affect a labor and delivery, and it is absolutely fascinating.
The second half of the book is devoted to providing specific information about labor and delivery, hospitals, the differences between OB’s and midwives, interventions and medications, even what to eat – everything you could ever need to know to deliver a baby. Ina May is very thorough, citing studies and research to back up all of her theories and opinions along with her own years and years of experience delivering babies at “The Farm”.
Even if you are not considering natural childbirth, this book is absolutely worth reading. It will provide every expecting mother with an arsenal of information that will help you make informed decisions about your labor and delivery, rather than blindly putting yourself in the hands of medical professionals who may or may not have yours and your baby’s best interests in mind. Most helpful to me was the information on medications used to induce labor – had I known, I NEVER would have risked it with my daughters. Ina May provides a thorough education for all expecting mothers to take to their own midwife, doctor, or OB and take control of their childbirth experience. It’s quite empowering.