Wise Words from Ina May {Remember Your Natural Instincts}

 This past Sunday I had the pleasure to attend the Your Natural Baby Fair here in San Diego. Imagine a room filled with women and men passionate about natural childbirth and child-rearing. It was amazing. I was inundated with information and excited to take home what I learned. 

One of the best parts about the fair was listening to Ina May Gaskin, author of Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and her latest book Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta. Ina May played a large role in my decision to persue natural childbirth for both of my babies. And even though I received pitocin and an epidural with my son I still felt empowered and informed about what was going on throughout the entire pregnancy and birth.

I have to thank my best friend, Miranda, for introducing me to the ideas behind natural childbirth and med-free labors. She is a doula and helped me through the delivery of my first. She's also inspired me to become a doula myself. And while I haven't started training yet I now have the local resources (and a new mentor!) to move forward with this goal.

After listening to Ina May I'm even more excited about this next journey in my life. One thing that Ina May said struck me. Her advice to new mothers and fathers to calm their newborn is, "If your newborn is in distress and crying just lick their head to calm them." Simple as that. A little licking and you're set! And before you say something about this being totally gross... that baby just came from the most sterile environment available.

Natural Instincts of Humans

You see, Ina May is all about following your natural instincts. Almost to the sense that you go primal. She told us of the story of a mom who had just gone through a c-section. Her baby was in hysterics and as the mother tried to get the baby to latch for the first time she became stressed as well.

Daddy came to the rescue though. He grabbed the baby and did what came naturally. He brought the baby's soft little head up to his and nuzzled and licked the baby. After a few moments the baby calmed. Enough to latch perfectly to the mother. Ina May was very moved by the event and after hearing her re-tell the story so was I.

Sphincter Law

Ina May also mentioned something she calls the Sphincter Law. Basically, this law means that women go into labor and give birth more easily when the following criteria are met:

  • Privacy and intimacy are created
  • Time limits are removed
  • Demands are not made to 'urinate now!', 'push!', or 'poop!'
  • Praise is given by another person in the proximity of the sphincter's owner. This other person might be the mother of toddler or a midwife assisting a woman giving birth
  • Create an environment where the person is able to laugh, allowing the sphincter to open naturally
  • When a person's sphincter is in the process of opening, it may suddenly close if that person becomes frightened, upset, embarrassed, or self-conscious. This is because high levels of adrenaline in the bloodstream do not favor (sometimes they actually prevent) the opening of the sphincters
  • The state of relaxation of the mouth and jaw is directly correlated to the ability of the cervix, the vagina, and the anus to open to full capacity. A relaxed and open mouth favors a more open vagina and cervix.

If medical professionals learn better how the sphincter works, we will more than likely see a decrease in caesarian sections. To read more about the Sphincter Law, check out Ina May's article on the subject. And if you're a pregnant woman, see if your OB or midwife are familiar with it as well. Just having this knowledge at hand is a powerful tool.

Natural Instincts of Animals

After speaking about our primal instincts and listening to Sphincter Law, Ina May also mentioned two videos we should check out on YouTube. The first was a video of a mother elephant resuscitating her newborn after it was born not breathing. What she did after following her own instincts is just amazing to watch.

She also suggested that we watch the birth of a chimp at the Attica zoo where the birthing mother's mom (the baby's grandma) acted as her doula. The grandmother proudly assisted her daughter and provided the moral support she needed to get through the birth.

These two videos are amazing examples of how uneducated wild animals with no medical degrees turned to their own natural instincts to take care of their young. And it only inspires me more to promote natural childbirth and the importance of knowing what our bodies are built for.

I cannot wait to learn more about natural childbirth as I start my journey to becoming a doula!

Have you read any of Ina May's work? Are you interested in natural childbirth? 

9 comment(s) with love:

Ourfamilyworld said... Reply To This Comment

Unfortunately, I have not read her works. I am interested in childbirth but unfortunately I had a c-section due to some complications. thanks for sharing

LaVonne @ Long Wait said... Reply To This Comment

I had a natural childbirth with my first baby. I am planning on it with the second due in June. I used a doula and loved her too. Thanks for sharing this with us!

Greta said... Reply To This Comment

It's great that you've found something that you feel is your calling. Congrats!

Diva Locks said... Reply To This Comment

Great post! I delivered my son naturally and unfortunately for me it wasn't the best experience but none the less I was happy to have accomplished that tough feat :)

Randi Moncur said... Reply To This Comment

fantastic! you'll be an amazing doula!!

Myrah - Coupon Mamacita said... Reply To This Comment

Great info....I had a c-section with my only child..

Shopping Tips and Tricks said... Reply To This Comment

Great post and information! Thanks for sharing!

LOVE MELISSA:) said... Reply To This Comment

Thank you so much for sharing! I had 2 c-sections.

royalegacy said... Reply To This Comment

Wow! So very interesting. I wish I had gone to someone like this for my last child. Because he was a bit big (well, almost 11 pounds) they forced me to get a c-section. The doctor did a lousy job, and because of it, my seventh was a miscarriage, and I eventually had to have a hysterectomy. I would have loved to have had a birth experience like this.