I’ve been asked many a time what my number one book to read during pregnancy is… It’s Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by leading midwife Ina May Gaskin.
When I was expecting, I read this book twice, in its entirety.
I knew that I wanted to experience a natural birth, but I knew almost no women who’d ever had one – and even fewer who’d done so at home. For that reason, I loved the first half of the book. It’s three-dozen, or more, birth stories from all different women, who gave birth under many different circumstances all with differing challenges. Reading these stories was so valuable to me (which is one of the major reasons I chose to share my birth story here).
I had only one cousin who’d had a natural home birth – and while I ate her story up, and considered her experience – I needed more. As I read the stories of these unique and powerful women, I was able to carefully consider how I may have handled their birth had I been in their place. It allowed me to feel calmly prepared for the many possible outcomes that come with labour and delivery. All these women were able – and it reaffirmed to me that I, too, was able.
The second half of the book is evidence-based discussion of current, North American, 21st Century, pregnancy health care. Again, I knew I wanted a natural birth, and I had been surprised in early pregnancy how medicalized midwifery care still was. I appreciated the space that this book gave me to contemplate the many parts of pregnancy, labour, and delivery – and how I would want them to be handled.
There were some excellent resources provided in this portion of the book. Some of the evidence in this book shocked me, and inspired me to continue researching further.
Marsden Wagner MD MS, the former Director of Women’s and Children’s Health for the World Health Organization says, “Simply put, midwife Ina May Gaskin is the most important person in maternity care in North America, bar none. As a reproductive scientist as well as a medical practitioner, I can assure readers that everything Ina May presents in this book is based on the best scientific evidence. This book should be read by every woman who is having or may someday have a baby, and by every midwife, nurse, doula, childbirth educator, and doctor who assists or may someday assist these women through their maternity experience.”
This book helped me personally through my first pregnancy and birth, as well as inspired me to educate and advocate for women during this profound and transitional time of life. I recommend you, too, read Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth.