Ina May Gaskin
Ina May Gaskin in our most famous midwife.
She was one of the founders of The Farm, a major accomplishment of our back-to-the-lander forefolks that remains an epicenter of simple living and birth education. She helped found The Farm settlement near Summertown, Tennessee alongside Stephen Gaskin, author of Hey Beatnik!, and many other super righteous counter-culture hippies, mostly from the Bay Area, who decided to get going on an experimental intentional community based on self-reliance, a vegetarian diet, gracious use of natural resources, and trust in their own bodies and wisdoms.
In 1971, they caravaned a bunch of school buses cross-country in search of land. Being young and healthy, they began having babies along the way and, as part of their faith in their own powers, they put their trust in their inherent ability to grow and birth babies without seeking a doctor or hospital. Without any formal training, they began catching babies on their own.
Without any former training, Ina May became immersed in the wisdom and practice of midwifery care, combining historical accounts, practical suggestions, and her own observed experience. With intuition and this knowledge, she and the other midwives on The Farm developed a tremendously successful means of care.
In 1977, Ina May published the famous Spiritual Midwifery, which has turned countless women and a number of men into midwives. Spiritual Midwifery exists now as its own entity of awesome, ushering families through positive stories of birth and useful information. Later she complimented this wonderful text with her Guide to Childbirth and Guide to Breastfeeding, which we carry at the shop, and recently, Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta. All of them important reading for all families and any one interested in birth!
Also in the new century, Ina May and the farm midwives were the subject of a wonderful film called Birth Story that you may have seen. And of course she continues to practice, thank goodness!
***Ina May is fuzzily, joyously pictured here with her husband Stephen Gaskin and our own beloved home birth midwife Nile Nash.