Ina May Gaskin is viewed by some as the “mother of authentic midwifery
.” She is a direct entry midwife
who wrote Spiritual Midwifery
in 1977, a beautiful book that covered pregnancy
, and breastfeeding
from a natural and spiritual viewpoint. The book was a direct result of her experiences delivering babies for the caravan that followed her husband, Stephen Gaskin
, on his lecture tour in the early 70’s. While Stephen Gaskin was giving a lecture a woman was giving birth in one of the caravan vehicles. As the traveling community
of hippies did not have any money and would not accept welfare it became apparent that someone would have to deliver the babies.
In 1971 the community settled in Summertown, Tennessee, a three square mile tract that became known as The Farm. There, Ina May started a midwifery program that has delivered more than 2000 babies with a 1.8% cesarean rate, verses a 20% cesarean for women who deliver in American hospitals. She leads midwifery workshops, writes books and writes articles for medical journals. She is also the editor of The Birth Gazette, a quarterly journal. She writes about the difficulties facing midwives in this country, the need for real healthcare reform as well as technical articles highlighting breech births and shoulder dystocia.
“A midwife’s work means something. It prepares the woman to go through childbirth in a way that’s transformative and empowering. The empowerment and self-respect she learns in labor is passed on to the child in a loving relationship. When we as a society begin to value mothers as the givers of life then we will see social change in ways that matter.” Ina May Gaskin