Sunday, 6 May 2012

The doyenne of Midwifery

Ina May Gaskin the doyenne of Midwifery.  This woman is, without doubt, amazing.  I love hearing her speak.  I love reading her books, reading her site and watching videos of her.  Yes I'm completely in love with Michel Odent, closely followed by Denis Walsh but my first birthing hero is this woman here.  Ina May Gaskin.

I first met Ina May at a Biological Nurturing conference a few years back.  She was so lovely to just chat to.  There we all were, ever so slightly in awe, and she seemed to have no idea of the effect she had on us.  Ina May was one of the main reasons that I booked to attend the MAMA Conference.  There was no way that I was missing an opportunity to hear her.

Ina May was inspirational.  She took us through the history of some amazing women in the world of birth. and shared a couple of animal births as well.  She talked about the things that they discovered through the course of supporting women.  I loved the way their lives paralleled hers.  None of them were medically trained, at least not in the usual sense.  They learnt on the job, through observation, with the occasional helping hand from doctors of the day.  They talked about their findings and were ignored and yet the birthing women did well under their care.

Ina May and The Farm have amazing statistics with a caesarean rate of 1.7%.

  • 1.7% ended in a Caesarean (compared to US 32.3%)
  • 0.37% were forceps deliveries and 0.04% were vacuum extractions
  • 3.5% were breech and of those 8.6% required a Caesarean
  • 1.7% had a post partum haemorrhage
  • 5.4% were induced, but this was by castor oil or by stretch and sweep
  • 19 sets of twins were born. All vaginal births
  • 1.5% epidural (compared to US 80+%)
  • 99% Breastfeeding Initiation (compared to US 50%)
  • 0.39% Pre-eclampsia (compared to US 7%)

  • Over here it is becoming more and more unusual to hear about first time mothers having vaginal births, but there are good birth stories out there.  Our caesarean rate, as a nation, is pretty appalling - 28%. Someone's doing something right!  

    We have a lot to learn from the Ina May's of this world.  People who spend time with birthing women, allowing them the space to birth their babies.  There is a far more holistic approach that needs to be taken around birth.  My hope is that we actually learn from history.  We are promised so much choice in where and how we birth our babies, when in reality it's more a case of 'my way or the highway'.  I hear too many stories of women who are pacified at hospital appointments and arrive to a completely different story.  Perhaps Birth Matters should be required reading for all who aim to work within the world of birth.

    1 comment:

    1. Dearest Mars,
      I'm with you in celebrating Ina May and all "The Farm" midwives, for their pioneering work in America.
      I trained as a midwife in 1988 and was never taught that birth was a natural process, or that it could be pleasurable. In fact I didn't find out about Ina May's work until I was expecting my first child in 1993!
      Reading "Spiritual Midwifery" really opened my eyes to why I hadn't enjoyed my midwifery training - we were doing it wrong! It's not about managing and measuring, its about love and connection!
      I wish I could say I had a peaceful homebirth with my first baby, but she was a brow presentation and I eventually had a caesarean. I had an ecstatic VBAC with my second and now realise there is joy to be found in whatever birth you have.
      Thank you Ina May Gaskin for opening my mind to the possibility of joyful birth. xxx