Monday, February 16, 2015

Doula Adventures: Guest Reviewer of Ina May!

Hey friends, today I am thrilled to have Victoria guest reviewing Ina May Gaskin's book! As you may recall, Victoria and I go way back {like, to 2010 or 2011, which is practically forever ago}, and she has been one of my most enthusiastic cheerleaders on this doula journey. 
A few months ago, I asked her if she would like to do guest post a book review, since she has a yummy baby and could tell us what was really useful during her labor. Victoria agreed immediately, and when I asked her which book was the most helpful, I was thrilled that she answered "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" because it's one of my favorites, too. So without any more ado, here's Victoria!

When Rebekah asked me to review Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, I said yes. It was an easy decision. I love Ina May, and I seriously love Rebekah. I'd let either one of them catch my baby. #gettingrealupinhere

After I did all the freakings out about being pregnant, I started to get a tinsy bit into a thing called childbirth.

And by a "tinsy bit" I mean makes-my-husband-uncomfortable and I-would-totally-eat-my-placenta into.

I can't remember exactly when I feel in deep like with Ina May. Probably from watching The Business of Being Born. So, yes, I am a bandwagon fan. Sorry not sorry. Let's just think of it as an introduction, ok?

What I enjoyed about Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is the non-medical nature of her writing. She writes from immense hands-on experience, but her writing is accessible to the everyday woman. Reading her book I felt as if she were my midwife, sitting across from me, explaining what I could expect during my labor and delivery. Her words were very soothing in that way.

Another fun feature of this book are the birth stories that comprise the first half. While pregnant, it was helpful to get a sense of the "variations of normal" that can occur during labor and delivery. However, if you're more interested in the guiding bit, it's totally okay to skip to that section. You won't miss a thing!

As I mentioned, Ina May's writing is very relatable. While medical resources describe birth in very flat terms - something like, "Your cervix will dilate to 10 cms and the baby will descend in the birth canal." - Ina May puts matters far more poetically, calling contractions "rushes," for example.

Think of this book as a primer on what to expect in childbirth. She discusses routine medical procedures around birth, and which ones a mother could safely reject. Ina May also shares in depth what to expect postpartum. {Postpartum bleeding? Yeah, had no idea about that until I was seven months in!} I found it to be a very thorough resource.

This pregnancy-face-glowing review of Ina May's Guide does come with a few warnings, though. To be fair, I am not completely sold out on the whole Ina May experience. I feel she has been known to take "no interventions" to extreme places that are not necessary, especially with today's medical technology. And I get the sense from reading her that she pushes {no pun intended} natural childbirth to the exclusion of other options. I delivered my daughter naturally, but I certainly don't think au naturale is for everyone. Rather, I advocate women being fully informed and fully empowered to make decisions about their births. Decisions that should never be fear-based, but decisions all the same. Want to schedule that C-section for June 10th? Go right ahead. Willing to wait for baby until 42 weeks? Be my guest. Expectant mothers should have access to care providers that would help weigh the pros and cons of each decision, but I fully believe a woman should be in charge of her health care.

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth gets 5 stars in my book. Her wisdom really was that helpful to me during my labor and delivery. Though do read the book knowing Ina May comes from a clear bias. If you 1) are completely freaked out by natural birth or 2) avoid barefoot hippies like kale grass, you probably won't enjoy the read. However, if you're interested in natural childbirth, or even wonder about the mechanics surrounding birth, I think you ought to give this book a try. If you do, I'd love to hear!

Thanks for asking me to review this book, Rebekah! Love following your doula adventures!

Thank you for this awesome review, Victoria! You know I'll catch your baby anytime!


  1. Girl, you seriously can catch my baby. LOL Completely not joking ;) Thanks for letting me review!

  2. Thanks for your excellent review! And just give me a holler when you need a catch! ;)

  3. This sounds like a great book to read to get a feel for people who advocate for a 100% no-intervention approach, even if it's not what you'd completely agree with. Love your point about making sure parents are educated so they can make the best decision for their families!

  4. Laura, I would totally recommend this book! Especially the birth stories in the beginning! :)