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Book review: 'Ina May's Guide to Childbirth'

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

Book review: 'Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth' by Ina May Gaskin, America's leading midwife, shares her exceptional birthing wisdom from three decades of experience. The first part of the book is birth stories, which are amazing for showing how birth can progress on it's own without medical intervention.

When I read it I was surprised to hear that it really is possible to enjoy giving birth and to want to do it again! My mother struggled in all her births, and though she wanted a relaxed home birth for me, she couldn’t handle the pain and the fatigue so she ‘gave in’ and went to the hospital for pain relief.

For as long as I can remember, I thought birth was this incredibly painful, hard experience that you just had to endure so that you could enjoy your new baby. I would always say as a child, ‘I want to get married and have lots of babies like Mummy, but I don’t want to have to do the giving birth part.’ But reading this book showed me that, wow, many women have had babies safely at home and enjoyed it! It is possible to have a birth that is intensely working your muscles without excruciating pain.

Something that I found very new was the fact that a lot of women that Ina May knew had had an orgasmic labour. I have no idea what this feels like, since I am not married, but I was surprised to hear that kissing and hugging your husband during labour can release oxytocin, relieve pain and speed up dilation. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but it was a completely new idea for me.

It says in the Bible that ‘gracious words are a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and healing to the bones.’ (Proverbs 16:24) In one of the birth stories from Ina May’s book there was a woman struggling to dilate – she was about halfway – and her husband told her ‘you are marvellous’. She literally felt her cervix opening and asked him to say it again and again. She was fully dilated very soon! Speaking positive words over each other is very powerful and can make a really big difference during birth.

Ina May includes a lot of helpful information on the science of childbirth, helpful positioning for labour and the pros and cons of different ways of giving birth. It's a great book and if you want to hear some awesome positive birth stories, or learn more about the science of birth, then it's for you!

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