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1 Burnside Child Care and Parenting- Midwifery

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Ina Mays Guide To Childbirth

by

Ina Mays Guide To Childbirth Cover

ISBN13: 9780553381153
ISBN10: 0553381156
Condition: Standard
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Excerpt

Birth Stories

Introduction to the Birth Stories

There is extraordinary psychological benefit in belonging to a group of women who have positive stories to tell about their birth experiences. This phenomenon is exactly what developed within our village. So many horror stories circulate about birth--especially in the United States--that it can be difficult for women to believe that labor and birth can be a beneficial experience. If you have been pregnant for a while, it's probable that you've already heard some scary birth stories from friends or relatives. This is especially true if you live in the United States, where telling pregnant women gory stories has been a national pastime for at least a century. Now that birth has become a favorite subject of television dramas and situation comedies, this trend has been even more pronounced. No one has explained the situation more succinctly than Stephen King in his novella "The Breathing Method."* Commenting on the fear many women have of birth, his fictional character observes, "Believe me: if you are told that some experience is going to hurt, it will hurt. Most pain is in the mind, and when a woman absorbs the idea that the act of giving birth is excruciatingly painful--when she gets this information from her mother, her sisters, her married friends, and her physician--that woman has been mentally prepared to feel great agony." King, you may not know, is the father of several children born at home.

The best way I know to counter the effects of frightening stories is to hear or read empowering ones. I mean stories that change you because you read or heard them, because the teller of the story taught you something you didn't know before or helped you look at things from a different angle than you ever had before. For this reason, Part I of this book is largely devoted to stories told by women who planned to have home or birth-center births with me and my midwife partners. You may find this part of the book to be the one you want to read the most during pregnancy. At The Farm, the only horror stories we shared were those of previous births in which the care had been radically different from that given by Farm midwives. As women began to have positive experiences giving birth, their stories helped to calm the fears and worries of those who had not yet had babies. The confidence that these women gained from one another was a significant factor in why the midwifery care at The Farm has produced such good results.

Stories teach us in ways we can remember. They teach us that each woman responds to birth in her unique way and how very wide-ranging that way can be. Sometimes they teach us about silly practices once widely held that were finally discarded. They teach us the occasional difference between accepted medical knowledge and the real bodily experiences that women have--including those that are never reported in medical textbooks nor admitted as possibilities in the medical world. They also demonstrate the mind/body connection in a way that medical studies cannot. Birth stories told by women who were active participants in giving birth often express a good deal of practical wisdom, inspiration, and information for other women. Positive stories shared by women who have had wonderful childbirth experiences are an irreplaceable way to transmit knowledge of a woman's true capacities in pregnancy and birth.

James's Birth

By Karen Lovell

Huntsville, Alabama--Rocket City, U.S.A., where "the sky is not the limit." My husband, Ron, had gone to work for the maker of the world's fastest supercomputers and was stationed at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. For all intents and purposes, it appeared that we were people geared toward state-of-the art technology, people who would accept the latest and greatest, even when it came to childbirth. So why The Farm?

That answer begins with the birth of my first son, Christopher. I had just completed working for teacher certification. My plan was to get a job teaching that fall, but before that could happen, I realized I was pregnant. Here I was, fresh out of school with a lot of science courses under my belt, and I felt I didn't know anything about childbirth. Yes, I knew the mechanics, how the body responded, what happened, but I was totally ignorant as to how hospitals and medical professionals responded to childbirth. Learning something about what options I had started me on my search for alternatives.

My first visit with a highly recommended obstetrician in town was pretty unpleasant. The first thing I was told was the temperature in the delivery room could not be adjusted, although the lights could. When I asked to not have an episiotomy, he skirted the issue entirely by asking me what kind of episiotomy I meant, never once saying whether he would or would not give me one. This bothered me, but I knew this was about as magnanimous as he was going to get, so I let it slide. For the time being, I was getting good prenatal care. I could change later. However, as time went on, I was less and less sure of this doctor. In fact, I grew to distrust him. All along, there were little hints that he and I were in different head spaces. The biggest came during the sixth month of pregnancy, when I was sent a certified letter that made no sense whatsoever, unless one read it do it my way or else. Finally, in the seventh month, the doctor said there could be no Leboyer birth,* after leading me to believe all these months there would be. It was at that point that I knew I didn't want this man touching me--and internal exams were to begin in two weeks. I knew I had to find someone else.

A nurse who practiced as an underground midwife suggested a doctor from a nearby town who would provide more considerate care. Under his care I was able to have a Leboyer birth experience, but the hospital gowns and masks meant to create a more "sterile" environment were just that--sterile, cold, and intimidating. Also I had to labor on my back because of the monitor and ended up with a big episiotomy and forceps delivery.

One of the pregnant women, who became my friend after the birth of my son, used an original copy of Spiritual Midwifery as her bible, and even tore out pictures and pages and pasted them on her wall. Her daughter's birth, which took place at home, had a profound effect on me. In the back of my mind I thought that, perhaps someday, I would have a child whose passage into this world would be really loving and spiritual.

My second pregnancy was hardly noticeable. It seemed that the baby sort of slipped in and was no problem. The only indications of my pregnancy were that I missed my March and April periods and my clothes were a little tight around my waist. I wasted no time in finding the most "lenient" obstetrician in town. I had no problems with him and found he was very honest with me. He flatly told me he insisted on an I.V. and that the hospital required an internal fetal monitor, although I could sign a legal waiver and not have the monitor. I had resigned myself to this type of birth if necessary but decided to investigate further. I finally obtained a copy of Spiritual Midwifery from a health-food store in Nashville, where I grew up. Several weeks later I wrote to The Farm, and Deborah Flowers responded.

I immediately felt as if a deep-seated prayer had been answered and prayed that if The Farm was right for me I'd end up there. When I told Ron about hearing from The Farm, I think he was worried. After all, I had seemed so content this time and the hospital was only ten minutes away. Why did I want to go up to The Farm, which was about seventy miles away?

Ron and I had a continuing dialogue about childbirth at The Farm. Finally, we both decided to go visit with an open mind (although I must admit I wasn't quite as open-minded as Ron; I simply knew I wanted to be at The Farm). When we arrived, we met Deborah Flowers and Pamela Hunt, who showed us the facilities and checked me. Deborah said I was one centimeter dilated and loose, which I attribute to her absolute gentleness and the strong rapport I felt with her.

Ron was impressed that the birth cottage had hospital equipment to stabilize an infant in an emergency. He was also impressed with the fact that the midwives were emergency medical technicians and very qualified in their work. He decided to go along with a birthing at The Farm if our insurance would cover it. We found out in a few days that it would.

Because Deborah was my main midwife, I would bare my soul to her. I just knew things would go well. The Farm had it all: "in tune" midwives, a birthing house, a clinic with a holistic outlook, and doctor/hospital backup if necessary. I also liked subtle nuances such as helping the baby's head stretch the mother out without tearing, not relying on cold machines such as ultrasound and internal fetal monitors, knowing how to deliver breech babies, and having faith in the universe.

When I went into labor back in Huntsville, I didn't believe it at first and continued my project of cleaning all the carpets in the house. Intermittently, I rested on the bed to reduce the contractions until 4:00 p.m., when I realized I could no longer clean rugs. I waited a while to make sure of what I was feeling, then at 5:00 I called Ron to come home. He showed up, took things to the car, and we took off down the road after calling the midwives.

Contractions were steady and strong. Ron clocked them at seven minutes apart. Because I sat as still as possible, they remained unchanged. My back hurt with each contraction, which surprised me. Our drive was a little over two hours, and I was grateful for almost no traffic. Once at The Farm, Ron called Deborah, who came to let us in. I crawled onto the bed, where Deborah checked me. Ron brought things in while Deborah helped me through my labor. Chris had fallen asleep on a nearby fold-down chair. Ron sat down on the bed to help me with my back, which really hurt. Deborah grabbed my thigh while Ron pushed my back. It helped, and I told them so.

I could feel the baby moving down. I remembered Kim, this young woman giving birth on a video that Deborah had shown me. She had been really calm and didn't have a husband to rely on. What a chicken I was, groaning, "Oh, my back!"

Just at transition,* I wailed, "My back is killing me." Then, and it was truly a prayer, "Oh, God, help me." Just then I felt my whole bottom bulge. The midwives commented on how stretchy I was. I pushed, and they could see the head. I pushed again and out came the head. Such a relief. The rest of the body seemed like nothing. Ron got to cut the umbilical cord after it was clamped, and Chris awoke in time to see the cut. A few minutes later I was easily able to push the squishy blob (the placenta) out of me.

I had a beautiful baby boy, born around 11:50 p.m. with hardly any head molding. He wanted to relax before nursing. We looked him over, then gave him to Joanne to weigh and dress while Deborah and Pamela gave me two stitches for a small tear.

I was grateful to have had such an easy pregnancy and that the birth itself was not just a psychosocial event but spiritual as well. I was thankful to have such loving, caring midwives and such a loving, thoughtful husband. I knew that this was the right way to have a baby. I enjoyed how the midwives paid attention to every detail and looked at things intuitively as well as on the surface.

The next day I felt so good. I looked at the clear blue November sky and the brown oak leaves left on the trees and basked in the warmth of the sun. I realized that I was truly blessed, that there really were some things on which technology could not improve--one of those was the billion-year-old evolutionary process of human childbirth. To some it may have seemed primitive; to me it was perfect.

Harley's Birth

By Celeste Kuklinski

Around five o'clock I started feeling unusual cramps. Not wanting to give a false alarm, I didn't say anything. I had my General Education Development (GED) class that night, and I didn't really feel like going. Playing "truant officer," Donna, my mentor and friend, drove me to class. Mary, the teacher, said I was probably just having those fake, practice cramps (Braxton-Hicks). I went home early, unable to concentrate.

The cramps were getting stronger, and I was feeling warm and excited. I still didn't want to call these cramps "contractions" in case it wasn't really happening. I timed them and they were about four minutes apart. Donna asked if I wanted to go see a midwife, but I decided to hold off until I was sure I wasn't getting excited over nothing.

Finally, in the middle of a Star Trek rerun, while my body was positioning itself in contorted ways all over the chair I was trying to sit in, I concluded that I had better see a midwife. Donna and I drove over to Pamela's. She checked me and informed me that I was three centimeters dilated and that I would probably give birth that same night. Surprised and happy, we went home to prepare.

Finally, the moment had come. Pamela soon arrived, followed by Ina May and Deborah. By this time, my ability to converse had deteriorated. I was just trying to deal with what was happening to my body. Things were happening quickly. I didn't try to hold any of the contractions back. I just let them come as fast as they wanted to, knowing that would help the birth happen without delay. It all felt very natural. I just "went with it." I went with taking a bath too, which was very helpful and relaxing. Ina May and my mother gave me support in the bathtub. Ina May showed me how to breathe deeply and slowly.

I tried it, and just then one of the strongest contractions yet overwhelmed me. I had to stand up. Some bloody, gray stuff dribbled and plopped into the bathwater. About this time, I started saying, "Oh, God!" I came out of the bathroom and did what I had to do, whether it was squat, bend over, walk around, say, "Oh, my God," or dance like a whooping crane. The contractions were getting very intense. I hardly had time between them to rest.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Carlota, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Carlota)
great and informative book for future moms to be or for couples! the first part of the book is about birth stories. These stories bring experiences from other midwives and mothers. Through their stories, one can easily learn and assimilate that all births are different and a natural process. The second part is more technical and highlights some elements of the birth. I found this part very useful and with great information. although for moments it gets repetitive.

Overall, I recommend this book!
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Jenny, September 22, 2006 (view all comments by Jenny)
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is a long-needed addition to modern-day natural childbirthing resources. In this easy-to-read text, Ina May Gaskin begins with numerous birth stories as told by women who've experienced the empowering gift of birthing children naturally. The stories illustrate the innate power of women's bodies to gestate and birth human life. In a culture infused with fear about childbirth, these stories offer the reader a different and healing perspective-- that childbirth is not an event to be feared, but rather to be revered and relished and learned from. Key to enabling the birthing women are the midwives who support and encourage them as the births of the babies unfold. The sense one gains as one reads the birthing stories is that birth is sacred and manageable and possible and glorious; indeed, empowering.

The second part of the text is a breakdown of the components of modern day birthing choices available to women in mainstream care. User-friendly explanations of each component enable expectant parents to understand the available choices fully, as well as to understand the risks inherant in each intervention or test or available mode of care.

[a]Ina May Gaskin is perhaps the world's most reknowned midwife. She and her husband Steven Gaskin helped establish The Farm, a community in Tennessee, at which a highly succesful birthing center operates. She has done more than possibly any other person to bring midwifery back to into the consciousness and use of American women. She was president of the Midwives' Alliance of North America from 1996 to 2002, and in 2003 was selected as Visiting Fellow of Morse College at Yale University. She lectures all over the world to physicians and midwives, as well as to lay people, on issues of midwifery and topics surrounding the increasing maternal mortality rate in the United States. She is known for her championing of low-intervention birth, as well as for the outstanding statistics garnered at the Farm's birthing center in outcomes for women and babies. [These statistics were published in "The Safety of Homebirth: The Farm Study," authored by A. Mark Durand in the American Journal of Public Health, March 1992, vol. 82, pp. 450-452.] Ina May Gaskin is also the author of Spiritual Midwifery, now in its 4th edition.[/a]
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780553381153
Author:
Gaskin, Ina May
Publisher:
Bantam
Location:
New York
Subject:
Pregnancy & Childbirth
Subject:
Natural childbirth
Subject:
Health and Medicine-General
Subject:
pregnancy;birth;childbirth;midwifery;non-fiction;parenting;natural childbirth;midwife;women;doula;health;natural birth;baby;labor;birth stories;women s health;natural;reference
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
31
Publication Date:
20030331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
30 B/W ILLUSTRATIONS THRU/OUT
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.72 in 1.0538 lb

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Related Subjects


Health and Self-Help » Child Care and Parenting » Midwifery
Health and Self-Help » Child Care and Parenting » Pregnancy and Birth
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General

Ina Mays Guide To Childbirth Used Trade Paper
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Product details 368 pages Bantam Books - English 9780553381153 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , The cofounder of The Farm Midwifery Center and author of "Spiritual Midwifery" now shares her knowledge and wisdom about the "true capacities of the female body." This amazing book takes the fear out of childbirth, recasting it as the positive experience it should be, and includes inspiring and instructive birth stories from women who have used the midwifery model of care at The Farm.
"Synopsis" by , US
"Synopsis" by , In 1976, Gaskin wrote "Spiritual Midwifery, " the handbook for midwives. Gaskin now shares with all women her knowledge and wisdom about what she calls the "true capacities of the female body, " based on her more than three decades as a midwife.
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