Ina May Gaskin may be one of my top five favorite people in the world. This super bright, well-spoken and wise midwife has been the face of non-hospital births in this country for decades.
I’ve seen her speak in documentaries before, but Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives was a behind-the-scenes look at Ina’s personal life and her advocacy I’d never come across.
Her book, Spiritual Midwifery, first printed in 1976 and now in its 4th edition, was my guide to pregnancy and childbirth when I had my first daughter four years ago with Motherwise Community Birth Center.
The movie is the real life version of so many of the kinds of stories that appear in that book. Gaskin attends breech births, births where the baby’s shoulder is stuck, water births, and births where the mother delivers her baby herself with midwives simply around for support. All this is shown in the film in graphic real life birth scenes.
The other interesting this about this film is the real look it takes at The Farm, the chunk of rural land in Tennessee where Ina May Gaskin and her husband Stephen started an intentional community (read commune) where people were permitted to come and stay for free then have their babies with Ina May and her team of farm midwives. Not everyone was happy with how things went.
But much more than all that, the movie is a powerful reminder that almost all women have the strength and their bodies have the knowledge to deliver babies safely—no hospitals necessary. Strongly recommended for anyone who cares about having real and powerful life experiences without the influence of the modern healthcare machine.