Wednesday, August 07, 2013

A Review - Birth Story Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives

A young couple I know are preparing for the birth of their very first baby. I started suggesting some of the things on my Childbirth Page linked above and I gave them a copy of Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin. That was the very first book I ever read about natural childbirth and it remains one of my very favorites!



So I was very thrilled when I saw the trailer for "Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives." I knew that there would be examples of what natural birth could be and what natural birth looked like in a way that was matter of fact and not threatening or scary.

I wasn't disappointed.

The film follows the life of America's premiere lay midwife- Ina May Gaskin, from her early life as a young girl through her life now as a grandma and seasoned professional midwife. For the purposes of preparing a young girl/woman in getting ready to give birth some day, a few things stood out for me in the film.


  • Ina May clearly says that her mother never EVER scared her about giving birth.  She was always straightforward about it and never scared her daughter from the woman's role as life giver.
  • The midwives in the film treat birth as a sacred thing- which of course it is.  There is no condescension, threats or negative energy coming from them - something that I experienced in several of my hospital births. 
  • Ina May explains something that we should know intuitively all along- that the body gives birth easily when it is relaxed and unafraid. Just like any other sphincter in the body, the cervix won't open easily if the conditions aren't right. 
There are some beautiful births featured in this film including a vaginal breech delivery, a shoulder dystocia and then a very powerful water birth that a mother handles pretty much all on her own with midwives on the ready if she should need them - that birth at the end of the film, in particular, is very affirming and empowering.

I watched the film with my 8-year-old daughter.  She didn't find it scary or disturbing, although she insists that when she has her baby she is going to wear a T-shirt or bra.  There is indeed a lot of nudity, which was totally in context with the natural births. The sounds and sights of the birth were not scary for her at all.

They were scary to my older sons who steered clear of the t.v. room for as long as I was watching this movie!  Nonetheless, I think for any young man who has never seen a birth, this would be a good preparation for the real thing.

I would totally recommend this film to couples preparing to birth, or to showing your own children as part of a  sex ed discussion.  I think this would be particularly of interest for mothers who want to empower their daughters to appreciate their bodies and their unique role as co-creators in bringing forth new life.





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