The Processs of Childbirth

There is SO much out there about childbirth.  If you read the wrong stuff, you can end up feeling REALLY guilty about absolutely any choice you might make.  For example, there are those books who say that mothers who choose a natural birth, or a home birth, or even a birth in a hospital with a midwife are “selfish” because they are thinking only about the birth experience and not about their future children.  Then there are those people who say that mothers who choose an epidural, or a planned C-section, or a pitocin-inducement, are “selfish” because they are thinking only about themselves, their comfort, and a schedule that is convenient to them.

Ah, the myth of our society–that women should be completely selfless, and thus anytime they are making a decision with which we might disagree, they must be acting selfishly.

Since I am a reader, almost obsessively (my husband would have me delete the “almost”), I read a LOT of books before my first child was born.  And as a result, I had a lot of mixed feelings.  I had a hard time judging the fact from the vitriol.  And frankly, I get enough of that with today’s politicians.

I had heard from others that this book by Ina May was not balanced and as a result I didn’t read it the first time around.  I regret that.  Probably mostly because I did end up reading books that were unbalanced in the other direction, and if I wasn’t going to find balance in one volume, then it would have been good to balance them myself by reading both sides.  I’m glad I picked this up for my second one, though.  I feel like I know the arguments for OBs and drugs and hospitals.  And it was powerful to read so many well-reasoned, researched, and practiced arguments for a natural birth.

I don’t believe that the two ways of thinking are mutually exclusive.  I believe that every woman should have the choice to get the love and care of a midwife or doula (or both) and the modern technology of drugs and back-up procedures such as the C-section.  And no, I don’t think that’s selfish.  I think that’s rational.  And I think it’s taking into account the best health of the baby and the mother, which is what should be done.

Having said all that, this is NOT a balanced read.  This is a book for woman who are interested in a natural birth, or perhaps interested in trying to labor for as long as they can before getting an epidural.  However, I feel really strongly that most of what you are likely to hear from our society, magazines, your friends, family, and your OB is going to be so far in the other direction, that this book is a good read to balance it all out.  Just please, don’t let it make you feel guilty if you aren’t the natural-birthing kind.  Just let it guide you in ways to understand your birth a little better.

I have other books to recommend, too, so I’ll be putting more out here soon.

Title: Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth
Author: Ina May Gaskin
Genre
: Parenting, Nonfiction
Age: Parents or Parents-to-be

Summary and Review:

The first half of this book is composed of personal birth stories from woman who gave birth naturally at Ina May’s midwifery clinic “the Farm” in rural Tennessee.  I had been told by more than one person that these stories were “inspiring” and to some extent they are, but let me not sugarcoat them–they are also scary.  Above all, they are honest and real.  Real women talk about their experiences.  They talk about pain and fear, but they also talk about ecstasy and love.  Some of them seem so happy during the births that you’d think they feel almost no pain at all (and indeed Ina May talks about a study that shows a direct correlation between how much pain you expect and how much you feel).  They are very real stories, and while some are not for the faint-of-heart, they are also compelling and yes, inspiring.

The second half of the book is the part I actually liked the best.  Ina May sums up her extensive experience with her extensive research.  She talks about pain management and how you can set your own expectations.  She talks about the benefits of thinking about contractions as “rushes” or waves, and reframing the experience in your mind.  She talks about the mind-body connection, something that can be lost in Western medicine.  While the book is certainly aimed at a natural-birthing and even home-birthing crowd, even if you are planning an OB-hospital birth, this book will likely help you with the hours you are likely to labor at home first, and give you ideas about choices you might have in the hospital that you might not otherwise know about.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and definitely recommend it.  It provides a powerful paradigm for understanding the birth process and the female body.

2 Comments to “The Processs of Childbirth”

  1. I loved this book. The tip that helped me the most was to smile between contractions. I remembered that when things were getting intense, and it really helped!

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