It was only when reading this book that I reflected back to my daughter's birth 12 years ago, prior to which Ina May Gaskin's book Spiritual Midwifery had been my constant companion. Ms Gaskin reflects that so often for women in the civilized world, stories of births from friends and relatives are usually filled with intervention and problems. In my friends only one had a trouble free and easy birth - she went into hospital at 4am, gave birth at 6am and left the hospital at 9am. Other women had 28 -40 hour labours, caesarian's, inductions, forceps. I realised how true it was that we are surrounded by more stories of negative birth experiences, than positive ones. Reading Ina May's books you are immersed in stories of women who had positive birth experiences where they were surrounded by people who loved them, people who had been through the birth experiences successfully themselves and who, even in cases of previous ceasarians, twins births, breech births -which would normally require hospital intervention, gave birth normally and naturally without drugs or surgical intervention. A quick flick through hospital statistics shows that large hospitals have a much lower rate of normal births - about 40-60%(ie without drugs or intervention) than do smaller maternity units and community hospitals (with 90-100% natural births). Many commentators suggest that hospitals intervene too quickly when labour doesn't proceed quickly enough, - even to my dismay noting that some hospitals will now insist on drug induction when a woman passes her due date - when it used to be that the woman was allowed to proceed to 2 weeks post due date before induction. I cannot stress how highly Ms Gaskin's books moved me and how much I feel they have helped me in my own labour experiences. If you read only one book during your pregnancy - read either one of these two books.