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Birth Matters: a midwife's manifesta [Paperback]

Ina May Gaskin
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Mar 2011
Upbeat and informative, Gaskin asserts that the way in which women become mothers is a women's rights issue, and it is perhaps the act that most powerfully exhibits what it is to be instinctually human. Birth Matters is a spirited manifesta showing us how to trust women, value birth, and reconcile modern life with a process as old as our species.
Renowned for her practice's exemplary results and low intervention rates, Ina May Gaskin has gained international notoriety for promoting natural birth. She is a much-beloved leader of a movement that seeks to stop the hyper-medicalization of birth-which has lead to nearly a third of hospital births in America to be cesarean sections-and renew confidence in a woman's natural ability to birth.

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Birth Matters: a midwife's manifesta + Ina May's Guide to Childbirth + Spiritual Midwifery
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Pinter & Martin Ltd.; 1st edition (15 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905177585
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905177585
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 2.1 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 104,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Called "the midwife of modern midwifery" by Salon, Ina May Gaskin has practiced for nearly forty years at the internationally lauded Farm Midwifery Center. She is the only midwife for whom an obstetric maneuver has been named (Gaskin maneuver). She is the author of Spiritual Midwifery, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, and Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As excellent as expected! 27 Feb 2012
By rmew
I am a first year student midwife, and having read two of Ina May Gaskin's previous books, I was eagerly awaiting my copy of Birth Matters. I was not disappointed! The book is very informative and evidence-based yet easy to read. Midwives, parents-to-be, or anyone with an interest in childbirth will find this book fascinating. The author writes mainly from an american perspective, yet all nationalities and cultures would benefit from her wisdom, experience and insight. The book covers the history of childbirth and midwifery, feminism, the use of technology in childbirth, caesarean sections, and ends with the author's vision for the future. There is a chapter aimed at fathers-to-be and the book is interspersed with birth stories. Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By K. Hall
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ina May's new book is a manifesta setting out the philosophy of natural birth, and therefore nothing that has not been said by wise women (and men) countless times before. The value of this work is its comprehensive, detailed, and clear presentation of the information, such that surely no rational human could disagree. It is a scientific celebration of what nature has achieved and what women are capable of.

The first chapters set the subject in its global context, and birth stories are scattered through the text to remind the reader that while these are global, political issues, they have personal, individual impacts.

I have learned about the cultural loss of breastfeeding knowledge, and it makes a sad kind of sense to me to be reading the same description of society's attitude to birth: the loss of skills among health professionals and the consequent loss of positive birth stories. This cycle will be perpetuated and added to, and will spread beyond the US increasingly rapidly, as we lose touch with and confidence in our own bodies.

Ina May Gaskin discusses the role of feminism in driving an `escape' from pregnancy and motherhood, a push towards equality between men and women instead of a celebration of the important differences between us. Why should power be measured only in masculine terms and defined by the choice NOT to do something? Ina May's positive, empowering feminism offers a far wider range of choices.

` It seemed crazy to me to take on the belief that the human female is the only mammal on earth that is a mistake of nature... it's our minds that sometimes complicate matters for us. (p.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The gifts of manual skills, patience and wisdom 26 Feb 2013
While I found some of the chapters too historically heavy, I loved the positive and empowering birth stories scattered through the book. It was also interesting to read about cultural blindness of industrialised countries, how technology impact not only labour but also midwives and doctor training and the importance of manual skills to excel in assisting pregnancy and labour. Birth Matters is packed with Ina May Gasking extraordinary experience and knowledge and she shares her `personal' experience in attending births.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Words of Wisdom 3 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is great reading for any midwife, midwifery student which asks us to consider alternative approaches and recognise women's power in childbearing and childbirth. A must read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book 3 Sep 2012
By Tonks
Wow what a great read, Ina May Gaskin is an absolute inspiration. Her passion and determination for change comes across in every single word that she writes, her style of writing is engaging and makes the book an easy read. You end up desperate to read more and find out more. She shares a lot of her own personal history and shares the knowledge that she has obviously worked so hard to gain on such a broad subject. The sections about how countries all around the world manage pregnancy, labour and birth are so full of facts and true stories that they really stir your own emotions and make you wish that things would change for the better.
The birth stories scattered throughout are fantastic, a real inspiration and a wonderful confirmation of what a womans body can do given the opportunity and no medical intervention.
It is so sad to think of all of the knowledge that has been gained for as long as man has been around being lost and negated in such a way. Women should be safer than every now giving birth however with more medical interventions more women in the USA will die in childbirth now than in their own mothers era. It really is going the wrong way, so much is now down to politics and money that the most natural process on Earth is being ruined and altered.
This book really initiates conversations and I have personally found myself discussing it with friends and family on many occasions - so much so that they now want to read the book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone in the health profession, any mums or mums to be or anyone with an interest in childbirth, it is an extremely thought provoking piece from a fantastic author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars vital reading for anyone concerned with birth 24 July 2012
By Jil
`Birth Matters' is one of the most wide-ranging books on birth that I have ever read. It is shocking, but inspiring. The way birth is managed in different nations and cultures today is compared to the way it was approached in the past - how shocking that a woman who gives birth in the U.S today is more likely to die in childbirth than her mother was.
Other aspects of the life of women today are examined; the development of feminism through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, medical menstrual suppression and other manipulations of the natural hormonal state, the obsession with breast enlargement surgery, as well as the unbelievable fact that women in America still die for the lack of post natal care, whilst others are imprisoned for the 'crime' of being young, not knowing they were pregnant and failing to resuscitate their babies at birth.
`Birth Matters' considers the global, international, national, regional and personal aspects of childbirth. Especially engaging for parents-to-be are the individual accounts of births by parents scattered throughout the book, and the chapter for fathers-to-be. This is all rounded up with Gaskin's vision for the future of birth.
This has to be one of the most important and comprehensive contributions concerning the future of our society to emerge in recent years.
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