Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (★★★★★)


Ina May Gaskin  *  Bantam  *  March 4, 2003  *  343 Pages

When I first read through this book (about seven months into my pregnancy), I thought it was full of interesting and helpful information, but it seemed a bit touchy-feely for me. Honestly, I couldn’t understand why everyone loved it so much. But I have noticed, as my delivery date approaches, that I keep thinking about the birth stories that make up this book’s first half–so much so that I actually re-checked this book out at the library.

I have to say that reading through the natural birth stories of other women has really helped me feel more confident in my ability to give birth naturally and has made me feel more relaxed and centered in general. We shall see if these calm feelings translate into a pleasant and serene delivery (ha ha), but for now I am thankful that something has been able to make me feel less anxious about labor.

UPDATE: I gave birth to my son two weeks ago and was able to do it without pain medication–even though I had to be induced with Pitocin. This book did end up helping me believe in myself and my ability to go through labor without medication. The birth stories from this book helped, but what helped me more was using some of the visual imagery exercises that Ina May suggests. (I really liked using her term “rush” instead of “contraction.”) At any rate, this book helped me manage my labor pain better.

UPDATE 12/29/14: Since I originally wrote this review five years ago (!), I’ve had two other children. All three children have been birthed vaginally without any pain medication–though both of my sons’ births used Pitocin. I read this book before each delivery, or at least parts of it. I found that this book and the stories within it, helped me have strength to give birth without medication. Delivery hurt all three times (obviously), but it was doable. I would definitely recommend this book to all soon-to-be-mothers. It is a bit new-age-y, but it really helped me get my head in the game.

4 thoughts

    1. I’ll take and send pictures if they allow it. I don’t want to be like those middle-aged Midwesterners on the tour buses in Haight-Ashbury snapping pictures of the hippies — something that Stephen and Ina actually went through in real time back in ’67.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Funny thing. I just signed up to spend next weekend at The Farm in Tennessee, the commune that Ina May and Stephen Gaskin set up at the end of the 1960s with a few busloads of hippies from California. I know Stephen died a year or so ago, but for all I know Ina May is still there.


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