Babble’s “10 Things I Learned from Ina May Gaskin”

Babble’s “10 Things I Learned from Ina May Gaskin”

March 9, 2011

From, a review of Ina May Gaskin’s recent NYC appearance:

1. If you induce a woman before she’s ready it’s like trying to harvest apples in July. “The fruit won’t be as sweet.”

2. She’s obsessed with the awesome video– see after the jump– of the Bali elephant birthing and resuscitating her baby all on her own. “She didn’t take an infant elephant resuscitation class,” Ina May noted.

3. Gestational diabetes and hypertension are scarce when women are exposed to less stress and have access to real (not processed) food. Cut out the white stuff, she said, the sugar and the starch. And if you do eat carbs, don’t go lie down afterwards. Get up and do something. Use that energy.

4. She shared a terrible story about a woman in Cape Fear, NC who was examined by 7 obstetricians, induced and then given a c-section only to reveal that she was *NOT* even pregnant. None of the doctors had thought to palpate her stomach to feel for the baby. I’m not even sure I totally understand this story enough to relay it– this was an hysterical pregnancy, etc– but the point was that a midwife would have figured this out just be touching the woman. True that.

5. There’s one doctor in New York City who will deliver a breech baby vaginally. I don’t know the doctor’s name. But Ina May was adamant that we not let the skills for delivering breech die out.

6. She said that lots of nurses are not getting the training they deserve and require. Some nurses in the group pointed out that the schooling isn’t so bad, but the reality of teaching hospitals and nurse/doctor dynamics makes it very hard for them to do much at all in terms of support non-medicated births.

7. She praised doulas, noting that their work requires lots of “patience” and an ability to not “get attached.” Yup.

8. She fell for a Japanese obstetrician who has started a whole pregnancy program in Japan that emphasizes lots of physical activity in pregnancy. Especially old-school activities like squatting, crawling. Basically scrubbing the floor. She talked about how sitting back in a semi-recline is lousy for baby positioning even during pregnancy. The Japanese doctor has amazing success with his program.

9. She thinks America can only be saved by universal healthcare. And we need way more midwives assisting births as they do in most Western European countries (where there are better stats for maternal and fetal health).

10. She showed us how to use a Rebozo- it’s basically a long scarf that you place under a lying down laboring woman’s hips and then use to pull her hips UP and from side to side. This can jiggle a baby out of a funky position to help labor progress. She also told us the famous story of the Gaskin Maneuver– a very simple and now proven technique for resolving shoulder dystocia in second stage labor. Mom just gets onto all fours and the shoulders dislodge. There was much enthusiasm for pushing in positions other than on the back.

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