I had the good fortune to be in town this afternoon in time to attend a workshop at Philadelphia University with Ina May Gaskin who was in town supporting Womencare in its efforts to expand birth options to local women. She has a new book called Birth Matters which I've only just begun to read this evening and it was pretty special to be able to hear her speak in person.
I came across this legendary midwife via her book Spiritual Midwifery when I was browsing in the library looking for any books I could find on pregnancy. I did not understand the significance of Ina May's work in the modern natural childbirth movement or the impact she has made on bringing further awareness and respect to the birth experience but after reading her book and Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent my outlook was changed for the better. Ina May showed us several birth videos including an incredible one of an elephant mother's birth and another of a birth at Attica Zoological Park (love the 'doula' helping and the mom's upside down position). She talked about the fact that we human women are the only species who has to be taught to do something we are naturally made to do. There was also an overview of birth history and her birth experience and what led her to become a midwife.
The unresolved question Ina May shared today that most touched home with me was she asked why is it that motherhood is held as something not so important in our society.
The need for natural birth education, the return to women being able to make informed choices regarding their births and subsequently greater support for mothers is issues that I feel especially devoted to. Ina May's gentle yet matter of fact rolling thunder approach in speaking made me want to spend entire afternoon with this breathing treasure of information and inspiration.
So for today, recommended reading for all, if you can find any time to spare one day, is any book by Ina May Gaskin. You will be shocked, mystified, inspired and empowered by the time you are through.