Ina May Gaskin

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Ina May Gaskin is a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), who has been described as "the mother of authentic midwifery."[1]

In 1971 Gaskin, with her husband Stephen, founded the famous intentional community known as The Farm in Summertown Tennessee. There, she and the midwives of the Farm created one of the first out-of-hospital birth centers in the United States.[2] Standards of birthing at the Farm are modeled to the recommendations of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Several family members and friends are commonly in attendance and are encouraged to take an active role in the birth.

Significance of her work

According to Carol Lorente (1995), the work of Gaskin and the midwives might not have had the impact it did, if it hadn't been for the publication of her book Spiritual Midwifery (1977):

Considered a seminal work, it presented pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding from a fresh, natural and spiritual perspective, rather than the standard clinical viewpoint. In homebirth and midwifery circles, it made her a household name, and a widely respected teacher and writer.[3]

Gaskin has been attributed with the emergence and popularization of direct-entry midwifery in the United States since the early 1970s. She is publisher of the periodical Birth Gazette and an internationally-known speaker on maternity care issues for the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA),[1] and has appeared at both the Starwood Festival[4] and the WinterStar Symposium, discussing the history and importance of midwifery.

She is also the founder of the Safe Motherhood Quilt Project. The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project is a national effort developed to draw public attention to the current maternal death rates and to honor those women who have died of pregnancy-related causes during the past twenty years.[5]

Gaskin's Ina May's Guide to Childbirth was published in 2003.


A study of home births assisted by the midwives of The Farm, (Durand, (1992) looked at the outcomes of 1707 women who received care in rural Tennessee between 1971 and 1989. These births were compared to outcomes of over 14,000 physician-attended hospital births in 1980. Comparing perinatal deaths, labor complications, and use of assisted delivery, the study found that "under certain circumstances, home births attended by lay midwives can be accomplished as safely as, and with less intervention than, physician-attended hospital deliveries."[6]


Ina May Gaskin has lectured at midwifery conferences and medical schools all over the world. She served as President of Midwives' Alliance of North America from 1996 to 2002. She is the recipient of the ASPO/Lamaze Irwin Chabon Award (1997), and the Tennessee Perinatal Association Recognition Award. Also in 1997, she was made a Visiting Fellow of Morse College, Yale University.[7]


  • 1987 - Babies, Breastfeeding & Bonding (Bergin & Garvey Publishers) ISBN 0-89789-134-1
  • 2002 - Spiritual Midwifery (The Book Publishing Company) ISBN 1-57067-104-4 (1st edition 1977)
  • 2003 - Ina May's Guide to Childbirth (Bantam) ISBN 0-553-38115-6


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Granju, K.A. (1999) "The midwife of modern midwifery", Brilliant Careers.
  2. Spiritual Midwifery on the Farm. Mother Earth News. Issue #50, March/April 1978
  3. Lorente, C.W. (1995). "Mother of midwifery: Ina May Gaskin hopes to birth a local movement of midwives." Vegetarian Times, Special Women's Health Issue, July 1995.
  4. Association for Consciousness Exploration.
  5. The Quilt Project.
  6. Durand, Mark A. (1992). "The Safety of Home Birth: The Farm Study." American Journal of Public Health, 82:450-452.
  7. Ina May Gaskin, Author, Activist, Innovator

External links

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