Thoughts on: Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, Ian May Gaskin
This was my holiday reading, a few months back now and I don't have any quotes or page references for you - but it really made an impression.
Often called the book to read in pregnancy, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is definitely one of the books I would lend my pregnant friends.
I read about birth, pregnancy and boobs everyday and have done for a few years now so it is pretty hard for me to go back to a normal, non birth person's sensibilities and tell just how mainstream this book is. However, I am convinced that it is beautifully accessable and gives us so many tools to support positive and physiological birth.
My favourite part is the chapter on Sphincter law. For me it is an excellent example of something so mammalian yet directly linked to our conscious thought and kinda obvious yet unspoken. The law describes the involuntary nation of our sphincter's; how we cannot really force ourselves to poo, but if we are ready and feel safe and are in a good position then we will. Gaskin talks about how she is certain that "holding onto" fears, anxiety, a plan, loss - will prevent your cervix from letting go.
I find it amazing that, in the mainstream, we are convinced of the mind body connection. E.g. placebo effect, not being able to wee if someone can hear/see, stress headaches, mindset for running a marathon and so on. Yet if we talk about it explicitly, and specifically during birth it gets raised eyebrows as a spiritual or woo idea.
Actually, maybe my favourite part is the stats on The Farm birth rates - incredible to a UK obstetrician like the one who told me last week on twitter that "the CS rate cannot be changed and is the level of safety". I mean, this argument has a whole lot of holes, not least looking at data like this!
The next best thing is all the birth stories, what a wealth of generational experience.
I think if I had only read this book before giving birth I might have been extra disappointed with my high intervention birth. But then again, don't we all think that our case of intervention was because we really needed it. We reel off the acronyms and medical terminology when we retell our birth story; of course we had to be induced, they said our baby might be in trouble. It's all so complicated and through layers of intent and control we have to find the best path for us.
So perhaps, if this book was a bigger influence on my birth, instead of feeling bad about my medical interventions, I would have had more faith in my body? So hard, perhaps impossible to tell.
I have been thinking a lot about the teaching of pregnancy and birth in schools. It just isn't done, and when it is, with a level of squeamishness that implies it will be horrendous and is better to ignore unless you really can't any longer. Birth is freaking cool, and this might be one of the books to set on the reading list. I would love children to leave school with positive birth stories and an understanding of how their own and their potential partners bodies worked. Isn't a bit nuts that we don't do that? I remember a big debate in the playground at school about how many "holes" a girl had.
I would tell you to go and read it, but I'm sure you already have.
I'm current reading Maddie McMahon's Why Mothering Matters and the first chapter has me in tears. Can't wait to get more time to read.