I just watched the documentary Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin & The Farm Midwives. I was blown away! I’ve recently been more and more drawn to women’s health and reproductive issues, fertility and pregnancy – as well as post-partum and being a mom, etc. Seeing this documentary was so inspiring, and the concepts shown are widely applicable to labor and delivery practices today.
The movement started when there was widespread dissent with the government in the 1970’s, and there was an exodus of a community of people. They traveled in buses and lived off the land, first in California and later in Tennessee (where it was a lot cheaper!). As the community grew in size from new members being born right on the premises, midwifery services became crucial! Ina May and other women, and men – especially the husbands, partook in labor, with intuitive, supportive, and minimally invasive practices. Footage of the birthing processes were deeply touching, as it was clear that they were extremely intimate and sacred events. Deep breathing practices and soothing coaching, as well as expertise and knowledge of what to do in various events, made labors go smoothly and efficiently. They even showed footage of breached natural births, during which the woman had to go on all fours and delivered a healthy baby – butt first!
Another great tip for women in labor is to do what makes her feel better. If she sings in life – then she should sing in labor, for an easier and more pleasant time. Singing in general is a very nice thing for the laboring mother to do, or for the people around her. It usually makes for a nice, relaxing atmosphere, which is very helpful to ease the stress of labor.
I recommend watching this and/or reading Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin herself. The field of midwifery has now evolved, and many doctors work with midwives for uncomplicated births. Doulas are often part of the ‘birthing team’ as well and help families navigate their options and rights when becoming parents and choosing services.