I finished Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth this weekend. I really enjoyed about two-thirds of the book. The positive stories of natural childbirth were great to read and I must admit, I teared up more than once. The first part of the second section was great also. The whole chapter called “Sphincter’s Law” was rather fantastic and eye-opening. However, the end was so anti-established medical practice, that it made me more scared/nervous about what happens with a hospital birth than I already was.

There are some great lines and passages that I want to remember, but since I got the book out of the library, highlighting/marking the book really isn’t appropriate (and I don’t feel like I need a copy of this book), I’ll record them here along with their page numbers.

Birth is a normal physiological process. – 131

our bodies must work pretty well, or there wouldn’t be so many humans on the planet. – 131

There is no other organ quite like the uterus. If men has such an organ, they would brag about it. So should we. – 144

One of the best features of labor is the rest periods that occur between these rushes [contractions]. Hardly anyone seems to talk about these in birth preparation books, but they are one of the most brilliant features of labor. Savor every second of them. – 146

We need to always remember that mothers who are afraid tend to secrete the hormones that delay or inhibit birth. This is true of all mammals and is part of nature’s design. Those who are not terrified are more likely to secrete in abundance the hormones that make labor and birth easier and less painful—sometimes even pleasurable. – 149

the woman’s body knows best and that, given enough time, nature knows best and that, given enough time, nature will take its course – 152

Women who have out-of-hospital births are also more likely than are women in U.S. hospitals to have the continuous help of someone they trust, another factor that has been shown to reduce the perception of labor pain. – 152

The woman gains a new appreciation of the wisdom of nature as expressed through her body. When she starts to understand that being amused and grateful actually moves the process of labor along more efficiently, she starts to work toward these feelings herself. Hard work may continue, but now she has the heart for it. Instead of fearing her body, she experiments with trusting it – 153 (emphasis mine)

Because trust is such a valuable and powerful feeling, it is important for pregnant women to be cared for by people whom they trust. Love is another very powerful healing and easing emotion. Trust and love make relaxation possible. – 180

When a mother loves and trusts her midwife or physician, she is going to find it far easier to relax her bottom in the presence of this person. This feeling of safety will not only make labor and birth more efficient, it can also make it significantly less painful. – 180-181

It is amazing how much better our bottoms work when we think of them with humor and affection rather than with terror, revulsion, or, worst of all, look awake from them in shame. Lord knows, we can’t turn our backs on our bottoms. – 182

labor often starts and stops a time or two before it becomes powerful enough to complete the birth process. … Four or five false starts are not unusual. – 205

Contracting the arm muscles during labor distracts women’s attention from holding their pelvic and thigh muscles tight to “protect” themselves during labor. – 207

some women must be upright or on all fours to have a baby. Women often make this choice spontaneously. – 231

In fact, sex is the central fact of reproductive behavior from conception to birth. If the sexual aspect of labor and birth is ignored, it will often work against progress in labor. Of course, the converse is also true. – 239

We share this need for privacy during labor with virtually all other female mammals. – 241

Your body is not a lemon! – 315