May 25, 2011
From The Eagle Tribune:
It was the longest three minutes of your life.
The 180 seconds it took for the little stick to turn from nothing to a definite something seemed to last forever. Then there it was, unmistakable: you’re pregnant.
But once the good news was announced and the excitement wore down a little, reality set in and you’re kind of scared and really nervous. What will giving birth be like?
In the new book “Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta” by Ina May Gaskin, you’ll learn that having a baby can be empowering, exhilarating, and — believe it or not — it could be pain-free.
Women, of course, have been giving birth since time began. They’ve done it alone or with the support of a Girls Club of sisters, friends, and midwives. They’ve labored without epidurals, IV drips, or fetal monitors. In some places, they still do.
Many modern mothers-to-be are considering giving birth like that: without intervention, as nature intended. But not only are they often strongly discouraged from doing so, but the dreaded P-word keeps rearing its ugly head.
Gaskin says that pregnant women needn’t worry because pain-free labor is possible. The first thing to remember, she says, is that fear of pain causes muscle tension, which causes pain. Lack of knowledge doesn’t help, nor does lack of patience. The good news: both laughter and kissing move the birth process along, and it helps to know that whatever hurting you might experience during labor and delivery will be brief.
There are a few “laws” that your body will follow during labor, including one that says you need to be comfortable in your surroundings and with your birth attendants in order to have a smooth birth. Another “law” says that you should rely on your “monkey self” to know what your body wants during labor because nature knows best.
“Whatever you might have heard to the contrary, we women are just as well made for giving birth as any other mammal,” says Gaskin.
Waving around a copy of “Birth Matters” may get you mixed results. Depending on who you ask, you might get rebukes or scoffs, or you might get knowledgeable nods. Either way, there’s something in this book for nearly every mother-to-be, whether it’s her first baby or her last.
Author and midwife Ina May Gaskin isn’t going to have a lot of fans in today’s hospitals, but she doesn’t seem concerned. Instead, Gaskin firmly advocates for birth with as little intervention as possible, and she cites many encouraging statistics to support her work, as well as a good amount of feminism, sensible tips, and blunt words. This book contains lots of stories from mothers who followed Gaskin’s methods, a basic (and not-so-happy) history of modern maternity, and some encouraging words for new dads, too.
If you’re expecting a baby, but even if you’re not entirely in agreement with what’s in this book, I think you’ll still glean lots of useful, comforting information inside its covers. For both new moms and mothers of experience, “Birth Matters” truly delivers.