#WorldDoulaWeek – Part 2: Reducing the Fear

Ina May Gaskin

I first heard about Ina May Gaskin from the documentary film The Business of Being Born (2008).  I would consider Ina May as one of the leading role models of the midwifery and natural birth movement.

FYI: The term “Midwifery movement” isn’t something I have heard from others– but I believe it’s a movement in its own right. 

I have been captivated by her knowledge, her feminism and friendly personality.  I have watched a few online videos of her speaking at conferences and being interviewed but I have yet to read any of her books.  I am super excited to read her books and learn even more of what she knows and has experienced.  I have visited her website and there is so much to read and watch – so I encourage others to check it out.

You can read a biography here: http://inamay.com/biography , because any summary I give will not do her justice!

So why bring up Ina May?

Well, there are many reasons but in honor of World Doula Week, Ina has some insight as to what a doula does and why it is important.

First, what is a doula?

“The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.”

(DONA International http://www.dona.org/mothers/ )

Now that you have a basic idea of what a doula is, watch this 16 minute video of Ina speaking about reducing the fear of birth…. She has some great information about doulas and natural birth –

Reducing Fear of Birth in U.S. culture: Ina May Gaskin at TEDxSacramento https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9LO1Vb54yk&feature=youtu.be

All this information is important.  Why?  Because in the United States, we have been conditioned to fear birth and that birth is ‘more often than not’ – dangerous.  I think Ina made a very good point about the ‘fear’ aspect.  Women should not be telling other pregnant woman the horror stories of previous births – “that’s for a therapist”, like Ina state.  Hospitals are for emergencies.  Yes, doctors are needed in emergencies and for surgeries.  But, unless there is a complication with the pregnancy why does everyone need a doctor?

Now, let’s think about this for a minute…. What are two major industries that will never go away?  If you answered – Birth and Death – you would be correct.  And, of course being in America, what is everyone after?  That’s right, money.  Yes, even hospitals are tied up into this crazy large corporation concept like big pharmaceutical companies.

Think of the hospitals, insurance and birth like a wheel – hospitals make money from insurance by the amount of services they provide to someone that is in their care.  Now, the best way to increase the flow of income is to get these individuals in and out as soon as possible, with a large amount of services provided.  Come in, have your baby and get out for the next person.  Still with me?  Good.

So, if you are having a vaginal birth they are going to try to give you drugs to move your labor along as fast as possible which is going to increase the intensity of the pain.  In turn, most women will want more drugs to dull the pain – but it then slows down the labor and then doctors give you MORE medication to speed things up.  It’s a terrible cycle that causes the baby to go into distress, puts the mother in danger, and then there is a need of an emergency C-section (which again, increases your hospital bill).  I think what most women don’t realize is that labor is typically 12-18 hours WITHOUT drugs.  Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are women who have labored longer or even less naturally but each individual is different.  What I am trying to say is that – are bodies don’t labor in 2 hours before delivery.  Messing with this cycle is causing problems.

I have a very good friend who is a registered nurse in the medical field (a guy mind you) and during his time at the maternity ward for clinicals, he witnessed this terrible cycle.  The woman was constantly being bothered by nurses, doctors and training nurses on how she was doing.  They continued to pester her about receiving medication to help her with pain and to speed things up.  She was ultimately pressured into a C-section.  It is a major surgery and it can take months to heal from it.  My good friend is all for a natural home birth experience for women and their families.

This is how the fear was created.  This is how we were conditioned to think the birth was ALWAYS dangerous and scary.  In reality it’s not.  If you take a low risk woman during her pregnancy the statistics show that she can have a very safe and positive birth.  That’s what doulas are for!   If you don’t believe me take a look at the statistics from Ina May’s The Farm website.

So I will let some of this sink in….

Thanks for reading!

If you would like to get more information about Ina and her work visit her Facebook Pages and websites!



For those of you who are unfamiliar about The Farm – it is the birthing center Ina and other started back in the 70’s.  Take a look at their statistics compared to the national average!



Photo of Ina May Provided by her Facebook Page