The Longest Shortest Time

EPISODE #218: Ina May’s Guide, Completely Revised and Updated

Heads up, this episode contains discussion of childbirth injuries and traumatic birth.

Hello, Hillary Frank here.

Five years ago, I did an episode with the leader of the modern “natural birth” movement, Ina May Gaskin. I told her how, when I was pregnant, I felt supported by her empowering books about birth without surgery or medication. But then, when I wound up needing both, I felt like I had failed at childbirth. I felt like she had abandoned me.

(Photo: Sara Lamm)

Ina May’s answer stunned me. She said that I was making her think it might be time to revise one of her books to be more inclusive of all birth outcomes. She invited you, our audience, to leave comments on the episode and to tell her what your birth experiences were like—and if you’d appreciate some changes to her writing. Hundreds of you responded—and the vast majority of you said that you also felt as if you’d failed at childbirth, partly due to what you’d read in natural birth books.

Remarkably, Ina May did completely revise and update her book. That orange circle you see on the cover up top is thanks to YOU.

Tune in to hear about the monumental changes in Ina May’s book, meant to empower you—whether you give birth in a tub or on an operating table.

Ina May’s thoughts on the “golden hour.”

My heavily annotated copy of Ina May’s new book.

More Ina May Gaskin
This movie about Ina May’s life has great footage of the Farm, past and present, including a scene of a 10-pound baby being born to an unmedicated mother. I could see my own reflection in my computer screen as I watched this, and my jaw was literally dropped. The film also shows in action an example of the Gaskin Maneuver, an obstetrical procedure named after Ina May.

Spiritual Midwifery is Ina May’s first book and includes a lot of information for midwives, doctors, doulas, and childbirth educators.

And here’s Ina May’s TEDx Talk, which I excerpt in the episode:

Resources on medical intervention in birth
Read the report on the Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery from the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Listen to the rest of our series on natural birth.

And if you’re pregnant or think you will be someday, be sure to read Ina May’s revised version of Chapter 11 from Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (Correction: We previously linked to the wrong edition of the book.) She has a list there of all the indisputable reasons why you might need a cesarean—as well as the more fuzzy reasons. Take this list with you to the hospital so that you and your birth partner can advocate for yourself if you’re given one of the fuzzier reasons.

Photo of Ina May with fetuscope by David Frohman

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