Thursday, April 26, 2012

Homebirth Conference 2012: Ina May Gaskin

I am so excited about Sunday when I will be attending the 2012 Homebirth Association of Ireland Conference.  It promises to be a great day out for anyone interested in natural birth and parenting.  I am a huge advocate for natural birth and homebirth and can't wait to hear the speakers and meet like-minded parents at this event.

The headline speaker is none other than Ina May Gaskin, probably the world's most renowned midwife.  I first heard of Ina May when a friend gave me a copy of Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. At the time I was of the persuasion that if I would need to be knocked out to deliver this baby and woken up when it was all over.  My only perception of childbirth was what I had seen on TV and in movies - lots of screaming and pain, frantic medical staff and frustrated Moms.  I already figured myself to have a low pain tolerance and knew there was no way I could do this without copious amounts of drugs.

I had been a bit of a hippy in my youth, following bands such as Phish around during the summer and the friend who gave me the book thought it would appeal to that side of me.  She was absolutely right.  I was only a few pages in when I began to reconsider my attitude.  The first half of the book is filled with birth stories from The Farm, where Ina May has her midwifery practice.  The stories are beautiful and empowering and instantly made me feel like I could do this.  The second half of the book focuses on birth itself and goes through the various modern practices and questions them.  There is no pressure in this book, just a very educated and experienced woman presenting the facts for you to evaluate and decide.  Before I had finished the book, I switched from an obstetrician to a midwife (not too common where I was in the US at the time) and was determined to have an intervention-free natural birth.  Ina May's book was the start of my journey towards an empowering birth and began a journey of growth as a woman.  Despite being immersed in a hospital setting, the knowledge in this book allowed me to have almost the birth I wanted.  I avoided all interventions except a heparin lock, which I couldn't argue my way out of.  It was put in an hour before delivery and I demanded it be removed immediately after, so all in all it wasn't so bad.

The book was pulled out again on my second birth where I had hoped to have a homebirth.  Unfortunately the midwife had to pull out at the last minute, but I was able to have an intervention and drug-free birth in Castlebar.  I re-read every story in the book and again it gave me so much strength.

This past time around I read the book again and I added Spiritual Midwifery and Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding to my repertoire.  I remember labouring in the pool thinking to myself "I'm going to get huge" just like one of them women in the book.  I truly believe these books helped me believe in myself and be an active participant in the three most important days of my life.

I am absolutely ecstatic to have the chance to hear Ina May on Sunday, we are so lucky to have her come to Ireland.  The Irish Times has a piece about the visit and the conference.

If you're at all interested in natural birth, it's definitely worth a visit.  The conference is this Sunday at the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel on the Naas Road in Dublin.  Tickets are available at the door and lunch is included. Tickets are €45 for HBA members and €55 for non-members. There will be lots of shopping opportunities as well.  Further details are available from the HBA website.

Let me know if you're planning on attending as I'd love to meet as many as I can!

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