Last night I attended a conversation between legendary midwife and author Ina May Gaskin and Jennifer Block (journalist, former editor of Ms. magazine and author of Pushed) at the 92nd Street Y here in NYC. The place was PACKED. It was incredible to see these two women speak. I have written about Ina May before, she never fails to inspire. And Jennifer Block is brilliant. And, it turns out, completely funny and luminous in real life. The audience was rapt.
Here are some of my favorite Ina May quotes of the night:
On Simone de Beauvoir: “She was revolted by the woman’s body… I thought, ‘she’s a wanna-be man.’ That’s too bad because she’s pretty smart.”
On her own first birth: “I pretended I was an animal.”
On humans being able to do what cows can do: “I wasn’t raised to think I was inferior to an animal.”
On the first birth she assisted (in a hippie bus in the early 70s): “I didn’t know much but I knew I should be really nice to the mother.”
On supporting a woman in labor: “You have to help the woman be in a state of grace… give her something to be grateful about.”
On first time moms in labor: “You get lost in your first birth… you can forget about the baby… [you need to remind mom] there’s someone cute in there!”
On respecting the “powerful vulnerability” of a women in labor: “We’re not taught there’s something sacred about birth. We’re not taught there’s something sacred about death….”
On a woman’s ability to birth: “You’ve to to treat the woman right for her to exhibit this power”
On breastfeeding and the mind-body connection: “When you cast doubt on some bodily function– you don’t know how sensitive the body is to that kind of idea.”
Afterwards there was a reception hosted by the amazing Childbirth Education Association an organization of which I sit on the board. It was incredible to see all these midwives, nurses, doulas, educators, mothers, fathers, journalists and several babies all together enjoying some cake and wine and generally feeling good about our cursed biology.
Have your ideas about birth been influenced by these women?
Photo Credits: Ceridwen Morris