Yesterday afternoon I braved driving to downtown Toronto – something I really hate doing! – but it was so worth it, because I had the opportunity to hear Ina May Gaskin, midwife extraordinaire and really a hero to women all over, speak at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore (you can actually watch a video of it here).
She shared some of her amazing wisdom, read from her new book, Birth Matters, A Midwife’s Manifesta, answered questions, and then did a book signing.
First let me say – she is so cool!
I loved her clothes, and she was hilariously funny…I am truly grateful to have had this chance to see and hear her in person!
Here’s the thing…I feel that there are a few people in this world who have incredible wisdom, and that it would be amazing to just sit at their feet and learn. For me (and many others, I know), Ina May is one of those people, so when I heard about her coming to Toronto I was on it right away.
I was actually at the book store super early to make sure I didn’t miss it, which gave me the opportunity to start reading Birth Matters. And speaking of cool, Ani DiFranco wrote the forward! In it she said, “When I read Gaskin’s words, I get the sense of a sage trying to show us a way to creating new frameworks. Pointing us not to new answers but back down an ancient path to new questions.”
That is exactly how I feel too, Ani!
Both the book and her talk have a great emphasis on the fact that women are made to fear birth. She quotes a Dr. Hugh L. Hodge as saying: “…if females can be induced to believe that their sufferings will be diminished, or shortened, and their lived and those of their offspring, be safer in the hands of the profession; there will be no further difficulty in establishing the universal practice of obstetrics…”
Well isn’t that just lovely.
And of course, Ms. Gaskin has a wonderful way of teaching that we actually don’t have to fear birth (and for someone who has attended as many births as she has, I’m pretty sure she knows what she’s talking about!).
In fact, one of the reasons she became interested in natural birth was due to the brutal forceps delivery of her own first child (at a time when forceps delivery was at a rate of 65% in the US!). As she discussed this in the bookstore, she said in her matter of fact voice, “[I decided on] home birth – that would be safer than going to a doctor who’s crazy!”
One of the other main points she touched on was feminism and the power of women who give birth – a power that is not defined in terms of male power. From her talk:
“We women have to not denigrate other women’s choices – we need to honor them. That’s the kind of feminism I want to see. We shouldn’t be making other people’s choices for them – and there’s a lot of different stories out there“. Another favorite quote: “Let’s not be dissin’ each other!“
Well said, Ina May!
I actually got over 5 pages of notes in the 90 minutes or so of listening to her speak, and I won’t go into it all here, but I definitely want to encourage you to read the book, Birth Matters.
And get other people you know to read it, too!
This is actually not just a book for mothers or people interested in pregnancy. Ina May’s hope is that pretty much everyone will read it – women, men, mothers, fathers, non-parents…
The fact is, not everyone will be a mother or father – but everyone has been a baby. This is information that all of us need to know and understand going forward. So check it out!
I’m about halfway through the book now and 90% sure that I’ll have the opportunity to hear Ina May speak again tomorrow at the seminar she’ll be giving at Victoria University at the University of Toronto, so stay tuned – I’m sure I’ll have lots more to say!
Do you have any modern day heroes? Would you go hear them speak if you had the chance?