Who is Ina May Gaskin?

So many of my podcast guests have mentioned Ina May Gaskin and her influence on their decision to have a natural birth. Ina May is a midwife who founded one of the first out of hospital birth centers in the United States called The Farm located in Summertown, Tennessee.

Spiritual Midwifery

In 1971, Ina May wrote her first book, Spiritual Midwifery.

According to Carol Lorente, this first publication was “considered a seminal work, it presented pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding from a fresh, natural and spiritual perspective, rather than the standard clinical viewpoint. In homebirth and midwifery circles, it made her a household name, and a widely respected teacher and writer.”

Due to the impact of this publication, many credit Ina May Gaskin with the emergence of direct-entry midwives, i.e. Midwives who do not become nurses prior to entering midwifery. Once Ina May became a household name in birth circles she was asked to speak at midwifery events around the world and is admired by many natural birthing practitioners.

Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth

In 2003, Ina May published her second book about birth and midwifery called Ina May’s Guide to ChildbirthThis book is a comprehensive guide to the benefits of natural childbirth and focuses on teaching women to trust their bodies and the mind-body connection associated with giving birth without interventions.

In addition to giving pointed guidance on the stages of labor and how to cope naturally with the pain associated with labor, Ina May Gaskin shares the real birth stories of many women who coped with labor and delivered their babies naturally.

She discusses the various ways to reduce the pain of labor naturally including massage and touch as well as the potential to make birth pleasurable with stories of women who have had orgasmic births.

Ina May Gaskin and Natural Birth

Ina May analyzes the various interventions that are common in modern day birth such as episiotomy, induction and cesareans then offers guidance on how to avoid some of those interventions by coping with labor naturally and allowing for natural progression.

Ina May encourages some key ways to assist women in having natural births such as creating a safe place to labor where women can be comfortable and are given the space to let things progress safely according to their body’s needs.

While Ina May Gaskin is most known for her midwifery practice at The Farm and her support of midwives attending home births and birth center births, her book also offers great advice for how to increase your chances of a natural birth in a hospital setting with an OB in attendance.

Ina May Gaskin and Postpartum

Ina May is also passionate about Postpartum support for women and discusses ways to decrease postpartum bleeding and offers support for the emotional aspects of the postpartum period including a Lying in period for mother and baby after the birth.