Book Review: Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Posted On: July 7, 2018

This book Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth covers everything a pregnant person might wish to know or should know about the ancient and probably forgotten art of childbirth. It covers how to reduce the pain of labor without drugs (yes it is possible); what really happens during labor; what is orgasmic birth; the necessity of episiotomy; common methods of inducing labor; ways to maximize your chances of an unmedicated labor and birth; how to avoid postpartum bleeding and depression; tips on working with doctors and/or birth care providers; and how to create a safe, comfortable environment for birth in any setting, including a hospital.

And birth stories. There are many birth stories in this book, and they are all beautiful written, from the heart, and inspiring. In reading the stories of those who have gone before us (short of actually being there), we learn from the wisdom and experiences of those who share. A seed is planted so that we too can believe that the ancient wisdom of listening to our bodies and trusting ourselves is possible for those who are uncertain and doubt. May this book takes the fear out of childbirth and support those who need it to have more ease, less pain, and less medical intervention.

I enjoyed the voice of the author, and the sense of community and sisterhood in the birth village that Ina May created. I fantasize about what it looks like, how it feels like, what a birth there must have been like. I fantasize about giving birth in such a place surrounded by women who know who they are, and trust themselves and in me. Such a place would be wonderful to visit, to support, and to give birth. I fantasize about being such a comfort to other women as a doula.

I do think however a later version could try to include latest medical research and statistics if possible, and also a more international perspective if at all possible. This book might not be suitable for those who do not want and have no intention of having children as it doesn’t cover the topic of thinking of having children – no one book can cover everything or address everything about childbirth, of course.

This is actually the second time I’ve read this book, and I marvel at how differently I feel about childbirth this time around. Having sat through The Bradley Method childbirth classes, I have more appreciation than ever about our bodies’ ability to give birth naturally without drugs, and with the support of equally informed people around us. I suppose my thought about the most significant thing learned is probably similar to many other women who might read this book: that childbirth is not necessarily painful, scary, impossible, and can be beautiful, empowering, and take us into a deeper realization of our own innate power and grace.

Other than what I have already said above, I feel this book brings home to me the ancient and intuitive nature of the childbirth. I can “see” myself in the role of doula – listening, waiting, silently supporting with my presence and energy what needs to happen to happen. I am taking away a deeper sense of “I can do this too.”

This is a classic. I feel it is practical, inspiring and useful. It is no coincidence that I read it twice and felt differently. I feel this can be a good resource to pass to my future clients because the birth stories are beautiful written – probably more so than other books I have read to date, and I don’t think these stories will ever become irrelevant.

About the Author

Ina May Gaskin is founder and director of the Farm Midwifery Center, located near Summertown, Tennessee. She has lectured all over the world at midwifery conferences and at medical schools, both to students and to faculty. The Farm is noted for its low rates of intervention, morbidity and mortality. Recently selected as a Visiting Fellow at Morse College of Yale University, Ina May also teaches midwifery, writes books and articles for medical journals and edits her quarterly journal, The Birth Gazette.

About the Reviewer

Dr. Martha Tara Lee is Founder, Relationship Counselor Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching. She is a certified sexologist with a Doctorate in Human Sexuality. She provides sexuality and relationship coaching and counseling for individuals and couples, conducts sexual education workshops and speaks at public events. She is the author of the books Love, Sex and Everything In-Between, and Orgasmic Yoga. She is also the host of the weekly radio show Eros Evolution on OMTimes Radio. For more, visit or email

Eroscoaching Logo

Get sex tips straight in your mailbox!