Sometimes you discover people who will come to mean something extra special, and who inspire you on a fundamental level in your life. I cannot remember how I stumbled upon this woman, but Ina May Gaskin has become one of those people in my life. (The fact that I can't remember is killing me a little, by the way.) She and her husband Stephen were at the core of self-sufficiency and hippie project The Farm in the late 60ies, where they drove a caravan of old school buses from the west coast of the USA to Tennessee, and bought a piece of land there. The village - The Farm - was started from scratch, and they did everything themselves - including midwifery. Ina May became one of the head midwives there, and in the years following she became a political advocate for natural birth. She talks and writes about the power in women and the way our bodies will guide us in birth, promotes home birth and proves that it is safe. She is wise, funny, cheeky and smart. Her books are written so that anyone can understand, they are about birth but essentially about love. I recommend her books Guide to Childbirth and Spiritual Midwifery and also the wonderful and very touching documentary Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin & The Farm Midwives, if you are having a baby now or in the future, or if you're just remotely interested in birth care. It will change you, it will create trust, it will remove fear.
This Monday, I was a part of a conference where the midwives of Jordmorteamet gathered a bunch of amazing people under the header Human Rights in Maternity Care and Birth, and Ina May Gaskin was there to talk about women's power in birth. It was wonderful! She's got that special kind of energy and it just made me so happy to have the chance to see and hear her in person. In a break, I gathered the courage to ask her for some portraits, and she happily consented. I was a bit shaky, yes, but I think they turned out fine. She's already replied to me (I sent them to her), and says she likes them and will use them for press. Ah, what a boost!
The whole conference left me moved, energised, happy and so inspired. It also taught me that we have a long way to go to get back to recognising birth as a gift, and not some sort of hell we have to get through to have babies. Our bodies are made for it, and if we trust that and stop being afraid, we will not only birth easier, but also reduce the risks involved and the interventions which have become so normal (c-sections, forceps, etc.). Stop thinking, and "let your monkey do it", in Ina May's words. It doesn't matter where you choose to birth (and yes! It is a choice you should make, not an automatic thing), what matters is what your experience becomes, because it will stay with you.
Whenever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions,
your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life.
(Ina May Gaskin)
See her webiste inamay.com for more.