Ina May Gaskin's 'Spiritual Midwifery': All About Home Births

Returning to more natural childbirth practices such as at home births with "Spiritual Midwifery" by Ina May Gaskin.


| March/April 1978



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Spiritual midwifery is practiced on The Farm where Ina May Gaskin is the leading midwife.


PHOTO: DAVID FROHMAN

There's a growing national interest in the subjects of home birth and midwifery as couples who are about to have children feel an urge to return to more natural and appropriate birthing practices. The idea of an aware, drug-less childbirth in the comfort and security of one's own home attended by an experienced midwife with one's husband and any previous children in the family close by to greet the new infant is one that just 'feels right" to an ever increasing number of mothers-to-be. 

In Europe, as in most other parts of the world, the majority of births still take place in the home. Only in America do the greater number now occur in hospitals. But this peculiarity of our culture is being widely reexamined, thanks to people like Stephen Gaskin and his wife Ina May Gaskin of The Farm in Tennessee. 

Ina May Gaskin's 1975 book, Spiritual Midwifery, now in its fourth edition, has played an important part in the back-to-natural-birth trend. For — even if you don't go along with every tenet of the lifestyle followed at The Farm— it's hard to fault the success of the community's home birth program which after more than 750 births boasts statistics far superior to those of many major hospitals. 

Ina May Gaskin wrote the following article expressly for MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers as a basic introduction to her far lengthier book. We think you'll find it worthwhile information whether you're an expectant parent or not. 

Midwifery

We are a group of 11 empirical midwives (I use "empirical" instead of "lay" because I like the connotations better. "Lay" implies some kind of priesthood, which is just what we're trying to get away from) who deliver babies and provide primary health care for our spiritual community of 1,100 longhaired vegetarians.

We have been a self-sufficient farming community since 1971 when the first 300 of us settled on our land near Summertown, Tennessee. We've been practicing spiritual midwifery — for ourselves and for a lot of other people — for about seven years, delivering children naturally and at home by the techniques we've developed. We feel strongly that birth is a holy sacrament, that it belongs to the family, and that the family's rights should not be usurped in this part of our lives.

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7/30/2007 3:43:15 PM

You can here an interview with Ina May Gaskin about spiritual midwifery. It's an hour-long visit, part of a weekly program called "Spirit In Action" produced by Northern Spirit Radio. http://www.northernspiritradio.org/northernspiritradio/radioweb.exe/showinfo?showid=392443707500 There is also an interview with 2 local midwives, especially concerning the spiritual aspects of the work: http://www.northernspiritradio.org/northernspiritradio/radioweb.exe/showinfo?showid=375365509494






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