In 1976, midwife Ina May Gaskin published Spiritual Midwifery, with other editions published in 1980, 1990, and 2003. Spiritual Midwifery is a book about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, or the time period after birth. During the 1970s, it was common for women to receive an epidural, a medication that reduces pain during labor, and for physicians to monitor a fetus’s heartbeat while separating women from their infants after birth. However, according to Gaskin, some women wanted to give birth outside of the hospital without medical interventions. Spiritual Midwifery is a collection of birth stories from women, information about pregnancy and giving birth, and instructions to midwives on how to care for women during childbirth and the period that followed. In Spiritual Midwifery, Gaskin introduced homebirth and midwifery to a broader audience, which helped repopularize midwifery in the US.

Ina May Gaskin is a certified professional midwife, or CPM, in the US during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. She worked at the Farm Midwifery Center in Summertown, Tennessee, a center well known for its low rates of intervention, which contributed to low rates of maternal and fetal mortality. One technique Gaskin used when assisting women with delivery helped resolve a complication called shoulder dystocia, which is when a part of the infant’s body is delivered, but the rest of the body is stuck in the birth canal. Her work served as an example for midwives and obstetricians, physicians who specialize in a woman’s reproductive system, childbirth, and pregnancy, to use a low-intervention approach without medication or a cesarean section. Through her work in developing different birthing techniques, Gaskin provided women with alternative ways to deliver infants without the need for hospitals, medication, or surgical intervention, even in the case of complicated births.

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