Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
A lot of different people recommended this book to me, and I'd heard of Ina May Gaskin before, so I was excited to read it. I figured it would be somewhat along the lines of The Thinking Woman's Guide to Better Birth, but maybe more from a midwife's perspective. But actually, I found this book to a lot more involved. True, it does have some of the same information as Thinking Woman's Guide, especially about interventions at the hospital, but half the book is devoted to the stories of natural childbirth, and that was something I hadn't seen before.
I like the idea behind it. We are exposed to so many stories about birth from our family members and friends, movies and TV shows, that we think that labor has to be excruciatingly painful and full of danger. The birth stories included here dispel some of that -- these births are sometimes painful, but also very joyful. Some of them don't seem to hurt at all. Overwhelmingly, the feeling of confidence and accomplishment from the mothers is what comes through.
The second half of the book explores why hospital settings can be so irritating to laboring women. My husband especially liked the description of the "Sphincter Principle," which states that there are similarities to being able to give birth on command in a room full of strangers with being able to pee on command in a room full of strangers. To make it easier, you should be in a quiet, private space where you feel safe and respected and among people you trust. Gaskin gives plenty of scientific backup, but my reaction after reading it was, "DUH."