Would you hire this midwife?

Gaskin quote

Would you hire this midwife?

Don’t let the head suddenly explode from the mother’s puss. Coach the mother about how much and how hard to push. Support the mother’s taint with your hand during rushes. It helps the mother to relax around her puss if you massage her there using a liberal amount of baby oil to lubricate the skin. Sometimes touching her very gently on or around her button (clitoris) will enable her to relax even more. I keep both hands there and busy all the time while crowning … doing whatever seems most necessary.

And:

Sometimes I see that a husband is afraid to touch his wife’s tits because of the midwife’s presence, so I touch them, get in there and squeeze them, talk about how nice they are, and make him welcome.

And:

I might want to have a cunt one day and a twat the next. On the third day I might decide that pussy is my favorite word.

Would you hire this midwife?

Her quotes make her sound immature, foul mouthed, and sexually inappropriate.

Plenty of women have hired her. Her name is …

Ina May Gaskin.

The quotes come from Spiritual Midwifery, 3rd and 4th Editions

  • Diana

    Birth is an intimate moment, a family moment, which goes smoothly when the woman is relaxed. Ina May understands this and makes it happen. She is very professional and the fact that she says the things like they are does not make her less qualified to attend a birthing. She treats birth as the intense moment it is, she does not attempt “rape” or anything like this. I’m sure she talks with her clients about all the options for a better birthing and does not do anything they may disapprove of.

    Someone who has never attended a peaceful home birth where the woman is completely focused on what she is feeling and is conscious to the fact that she is about to give life, will never understand how birth is not an sickness and that it should not be treated like so.
    I would be honored to have Ina May Gaskin as my midwife. She treats women as people, not as sick body parts.

    • PrimaryCareDoc

      You’re sure she talks with all of them about how she is going to touch and rub their clitoris and squeeze and play with their breasts during birth?

      I wonder how an informed consent conversation about that goes.

    • Captain Obvious

      Now reread that post with the healthcare professional being a male OB/GYN. Do you have the same conclusion?

    • Guest

      “she does not attempt “rape” or anything like this. I’m sure she talks with her clients about all the options for a better birthing and does not do anything they may disapprove of.”

      So she’s “birth grooming”? You know, like how molestors groom their victims, saying soothingly “Doesn’t this feel good? Your body likes it. Trust me. Trust your body.”

      And in so doing, the victim mistrusts her own brain – which is also part of her body.

  • Deborah

    Did someone say birth rape?

  • http://www.minecraftgames.co/ Minecraft Games

    I think that everything is possible if it fits.

  • Dr Kitty

    Let’s see.
    My OB gave me a WEEKS warning that he *might* have to do a VE at my 38 week appointment, and only if he had to. As it happened, he didn’t have to because my cervix was obviously long and closed on the ultrasound.
    Since I had a Pre labour planned CS, that meant I had exactly ZERO vaginal examinations after 7 weeks of pregnancy (we thought it was ectopic so I had a couple at th the start) and nobody touched my breasts either.

    I had a catheter, but it was inserted after I had a spinal and removed (by a midwife) 24 hours later, completely painlessly, and I didn’t find it uncomfortable in the least, but then again I’m used to them.

    Remind me again why CS and hospital births are violating?

    • http://shameonbetterbirth.wordpress.com/ Shameon Betterbirth

      I’m glad you had a good experience at a hospital. I did not. I think that violation of women is pretty common in just about every setting because it is so hard to sue anyone for violations.

  • Jack

    After reading this blog post…it makes sense why this lady would be a pioneer for home birth. She has to isolate her victims. A hospital or birthing center would never allow this type of behavior.
    “Isolation, gratification, justification…”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12907384

  • schnitzelbank

    Bow-chica-wow-wow! Thanks, I’ll stick to my impersonal, sterile, medicalized birth.
    Can we make a table? On one side, hospital birth. On the other, homebirth with IMG and co. Let’s take 10 things:
    Accurate fetal heart monitoring, pain relief, modern medicine??1 vs 0
    Access to immediate emergency care? 1 vs 0
    Certified medical professionals? 1 vs 0
    Protocols for fetal/maternal care? 1 vs 0
    Accessibility and accountability? 1 vs 0
    Access to immediate NICU care? 1 vs 0
    Consistent monitoring of newborn health? 1 vs 0
    Respectful, accurate language? 1 vs 0
    Choice to birth in a plastic wading pool, mop bucket, or fetid river? 0 vs 1
    Having some old lady try to get you off, while you’re in labor? 0 vs 1

    Hospital 8
    IMG NCB 2

  • SeattleMama

    I am disturbed. Very disturbed. Not by her language, but by her actions (rubbing a patient’s breasts and clitoris).

  • Seattle Hannah

    I read bits and pieces of this book, and what amazed me is the frequency in which they got high while in labor and before. Pot and psychedelics mostly. No one should say IMG promotes unmedicated childbirth.

    • KarenJJ

      I guess that babies are “peaceful” when they are born..

  • Monica

    Could you imagine if a doctor said this stuff? Or did this stuff? Talk about birth rape.

  • KumquatWriter

    In response to people saying, “yeah, but IMG made it know.this is how she works, and some people are into that…”

    The inherent power balance (IMG not just a celebrity but also presiding over life and death in that moment!) means that consent is sketchy at best under ideal circumstances. The following quote is actually from an article about incest but is certainly relevant:

    “Because although consent is always problematic (do we really consent to work or are we obliged to do so?), it is even more problematic in conditions of extreme power imbalances. This is why most employers forbid sex between management and employees, most schools forbid sex between professors and their students, and most families do not encourage sex between parents and children, even “adult” children.”

    (rest of article: http://chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/should-incest-be-legal/30098)

  • Laura

    Have any of IMG’s former clients spoken out about uncomfortable childbirth experiences with her? If she really touches women’s breasts and genitals while using crude language during childbirth, surely some former clients have complained about it. Any reports that anyone knows of? Or is IMG all (crude and disgusting) talk?

    • Anj Fabian

      If someone lived at the Farm, they likely would have been subjected to a lot of indoctrination including that the idea that Ina May’s authority was not to be questioned.

      If someone chose to birth at the Farm, they already have bought into most of the ideology. After the birth, they’d likely have the Farm’s narrative of their birth reinforced repeatedly.

      It seems likely to me that women likely have experienced similar actions, but they would have to be aware of those actions, perceive them as invasive and transgressive. Even then, it would be the word of a laboring woman against every other witness at the birth. Unless one of those witnesses was her support person, it’s unlikely there would be any corroboration.

      As for physical evidence – birth is a physically traumatic event.

      • Laura

        But certainly some women come to their “senses” and decompress from the brainwashing to later see how uncomfortable certain things made them feel. I am also sure there have been witnesses during the births – like husbands! – that have later realized that how their birth was handled was a bit “icky.” Curious about this population of people…..

        • Busbus

          I’m sure there are people who were unhappy with their birth experience at the farm. (The woman Ina May Gaskin derides as a “princess” because she needed to be transferred for pain relief comes to mind – I can only shudder at a provider who talks about a patient in such a judgemental and callous way, and I don’t want to know what IMG said TO that woman. Empowering it was likely not.)

          However, someone who is sufficiently in the woo to go to the farm is not very likely to open up about that. They would be shunned by the entire NCB community and derided and attacked for criticising their idol.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    Could someone please explain to me how Gaskin manages to pass this off as “feminism”? Biological essentialism, sexual harassment, limiting women’s role to childbirth…how is that remotely feminist?

    • Lizzie Dee

      Because it is empowering, silly! No need to worry about the kind of achievements generally recognised if you can Queen it with this one. And it’s only sexual harrassment when men do it. Reclaiming your own body, or being nurtured/supprted by a another woman is QUITE different. (Unholy alliance between 60s liberation and 70s Rad Fem)

      Turns my stomach, as does all this creepy closeness. I’m happier with professional distance.

      PS I think it is fine for women to feel thrilled at their achievement – that IS natural – it is using it to belittle others that turns me nasty. Me, I am impervious but not everyone is. and I am feminist enough to hate to see women put down or conned.

      • dworkin fan

        Hey I am a radfem just wanted to say I am disappointed in the ones that support things like NCB that is anti science. There is a recent resurgence and I just ask that we all not be labeled as man hating hippies. I am also a rationalist and skeptic. Thanks.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I’m glad you are “disappointed” in them. So when you hear them saying things like that, do you call them on it?

  • Amy H

    Should we all use the N-word as well to take away the power that has?

  • ‘Nother Lawyer

    This is absolutely repulsive and, in many states, criminal.

  • MumaD

    “Don’t let the head suddenly explode from the mother’s puss” – or twat or cunt apparently. How can anyone take this woman seriously?

  • Expat in Germany

    Hospitals try to civilize birth and Ina May spiritualizes and sexualizes it. I’m firmly in the civilization camp and think that the marketing of the spiritual and sexual version of birth is tantamount to fraud in many cases. Of course, a thousand people will respond that their birth experience was truly spiritual and/or sexual (in a bdsm sort of way) and if that is what you are after, go to the birth center by all means, but don’t try to tell me that it is safer and that all of your birth preparation made a difference in whether or not you ended up with a cesarean. I don’t buy it.

  • Expat in Germany

    Ina May took what is an extremely embarrassing, animalistic bodily display (pooping and screaming and needing help from a room full of people?) and romanticized and spiritualized it. Now I see that she sexualized it in a really crass way too. I see it as an example of stupidly confusing distinct things. The feelings of love that a baby brings to a community are beautiful, but the goo and poop and pain are not. Perhaps Ina Maye thinks she is doing her client a favor by making her sexier and therefore more powerful instead of what she is – a powerless animal at the mercy of cruel nature. All of this birthy stuff is about sex appeal at the end of the day. Do men really find fat women in kiddie pools that much of a turn on? I doubt it. It isn’t about what the men think, it is what the woman thinks of herself. Its all about self delusion. I am hawt and oh so powerful. If your only claim to social power is your body, I feel sorry for you. I’m conflicted about whether I should begrudge a person this. I think not.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Ina May is a cult leader just like her husband. He restricted her to “woman’s work” and she made a cult out of that where she is the high priestess. What is amazing to me is that so many fools follow her.

      • Expat in Germany

        I don’t find it surprising. Say, you are poor and don’t have indoor plumbing and you would feel embarrassed about it unless you call yourself a hippie and take on the cultural trappings thereof. Telling people something that is scary and embarrassing is wonderful and beautiful is a very effective coping strategy for a difficult situation. Freedom’s just another word for nothin left to lose.. Ina May did this with the terrifying series of childbirths which she was forced to attend on a caravan from cali to kentucky. I know that they were not forced to run away from society and into the woods, but when you are young and idealistic and don’t know any better… let’s just say, I know some former cult members. The crazy thing is that once they were no longer running and had access to hospitals, she continued to trust in dumb luck when there was no need to. Conscious delusion is a good coping strategy, but it is important to keep objective reality somewhere accessible. Smart people join cults all of the time. Feeling like a member of a community is one of the strongest human needs.

        • Expat in Germany

          It wasn’t crazy of her to cling to the power that midwifery gave her over her subjects. Immoral, yes. People get addicted to power.

    • me

      I agree with you, except the notion that childbirth is “embarrassing”. Animalistic? Sure. We are animals, afterall ;). Goo, poop, pain? Check, check, check. But the notion that we should be embarrassed? I just don’t agree with that. Childbirth is a bodily function that is no more or less embarrassing than any other. Honestly I think I find farting at inopportune moments more embarrassing than I found childbirth, lol. But maybe it’s just me and the way I was raised.

      Now, don’t get me wrong, romanticizing and spiritualizing it is not necessary (and what IMG does here is just… beyond words), but I don’t think it needs to be embarrassing either. It’s a normal bodily function that everyone (std disclaimer) does and is nothing to be embarrassed/ashamed of. I guess I look at it the same way as pooping in a public toilet – yeah, I’d prefer to wait til I get home, but you gotta go when you gotta go, everyone does it, and it’s really not that big a deal. What’s to be embarrassed about?

      • Expat in Germany

        of course, we shouldn’t feel embarrassed about it, It is just that the individual elements which make up the whole are usually pretty embarrassing. It is a grab bag, for sure.

        • me

          You’re right, as is Eddie. I guess I read it as “should be” rather than “some people are”. Sorry…. my own misinterpretation :)

      • Eddie

        It’s not that it should be embarrassing. It’s that many find it embarrassing. I agree with you. Bodily functions are natural, every animal has them, and they are nothing to be embarrassed about. But that doesn’t stop people from being embarrassed. :-)

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I, OTOH, have no shame.

          And apparently my kids have inherited that. I had a guy over looking at the carpet the other day, and my 4 year old changes out of his swim trunks right in front of the guy, standing full naked. Never even batted an eye. Nor did I, of course.

          • Eddie

            Americans, as a group, are comparatively ashamed of and just uncomfortable about the human body when compared to much of the rest of the world. When I was at a government lab completing my research for my dissertation, there were people from all over the world there. A German friend of mine went to the small pool at the lab. To change, he wrapped a towel around himself, in front of everyone, and under the towel changed into his swimming trunks.

            The lady running the pool freaked out and made a HUGE deal about it. He was genuinely puzzled, at a loss, completely befuddled. He asked what the problem was, as everything was covered. She explained that he was naked under the towel. None of us could figure out how being naked under a towel was different from being naked under clothes. We Americans rolled our eyes, as we’d encountered that sort of person before at least once. Our European friends were far more “deer in the headlights” confused by her reaction.

            Like you, I have no shame. I’ve known and hung out with nudists; it’s a total non-issue for me. Bodily functions are just … bodily functions. No big deal. Bodily fluids and emissions are natural. I don’t seek them out, but I don’t freak out about them either.

            Most (American?) men seem to be freaked out by or just uncomfortable about anything having to do with women’s bodily functions, especially. Probably one reason that there are so few men who comment here on a regular basis, and it’s something I find disappointing about men, as a group.

            It is probably not an accident that we both have much less bodily shame than the average American guy, and we are active here.

    • dworkin fan

      I think yes people ppl take her bullshit as a gospel and die bc of it.

      • Expat in Germany

        ah, I see. From a Dworkin perspective, sexualizing the woman diminishes her and makes her less powerful. That also has some truth. The big problem is that these things are being done to her and not by her. The kiddie pool is analagous to a tight dress and hooker heels. Ina May is the pimp.

  • MomAnd Midwife

    In NO WAY offering an excuse for her behavior, there is some wisdom to the touch of a lover during labor. Breast stimulation releases oxytocin, as does orgasm, which also releases endorphins. Certainly not for many women to choose, of course.
    Many of my local NCB community colleagues agree that Ina May describes being WAY too “hands-in” with the multitude of vag exams she describes in her texts.
    Please know that all of us don’t buy into her dogma ~

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      And what do you do to combat it? When you hear others wax on about her, do you shoot them down? Or do you just stay silent and let them?

      • Captain Obvious

        Jerry Sandusky – like mentality. I see it happening, but I won’t say anything or report it.

        • Anj Fabian

          Criticize the boss lady?
          Call a thought leader of the home birth movement out in public?

          You wouldn’t just be ostracized. You’d be figuratively tarred and feathered and ridden out of the Farm on a rail.

          TBH, I think that Ina May and the Farm’s birth center is key to keeping the Farm viable. Once that vanishes, I expect the Farm to follow – give it a decade.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            But MomAndMidwife is not on the Farm, is she? She is just one of those self-claimed non-crazy midwives.

            I have said it before, instead of getting all defensive, I would think that the non-crazy midwives would actually agree with Dr Amy, and join in with her to rid out the whackos. Yet, they tend not to…

  • Esther

    Somewhat OT (to Ina May, that is), but y’all might be interested in the gem from Kathryn Dettwyler, the anthropologist of “the natural age of weaning is 2.5-7 years” fame and a real b*tch online (She’s been known to tell a woman on facebook she shouldn’t have had children if she wasn’t planning to BF them, among other things). I was poking around that goldmine of Sanctimomminess, the The Alpha Parent’s Facebook page, and not surprisingly, KD is a fan. In response to a blogpost of Alpha Parent’s, she wrote the following screed:

    “Reasonable
    people understand that “in nature,” without intervention, sometimes
    mothers and babies die, who could have been saved if they’d had access
    to modern medical care. They also understand that Western medicine has
    gone way beyond “medically necessary” interventions to the point that
    modern ob/gyn/labor&delivery care
    now causes as much – if not more — damage than it does good. One of
    the problems with a rational evaluation of the topic is that it’s easy
    to say “A child’s life was saved by intervention” and place some sort of
    value on that. It’s not so easy to place a value on the hundreds of
    thousands [millions?] of children whose lives were permanently harmed by
    unnecessary c-sections, unnecessary separation from mother, unnecessary
    interventions such as routine fetal heart monitoring, epidurals, early
    cord cutting, suctioning, hatting, swaddling, vigorous scrubbing baths,
    immediate eye drops, immediate circumcision, formula supplementation,
    etc. etc. etc. How does one begin to do the math? If we harm 10,000
    children to various degrees, is that worth it to save the life of one
    child? What if we harm 100,000 children through our interventions, but
    save the life of one child? There is no way to compare the outcomes.
    But there is no shame is asking medical professionals to rethink how
    they approach childbirth, to dial back the interventions and use them
    only when medically necessary or when proven to be helpful, rather than
    harmful. “Evidence-based medicine” that relies on current research
    tells us that all of the interventions mentioned above (routine fetal
    heart monitoring, epidurals, early cord cutting, etc.) do NOT lead to
    improved outcomes in terms of maternal-child health. On the contrary,
    they are harmful. Yet they too often remain part of “traditional
    Western childbirth practice” – even against the mother’s wishes.”

    Someone needs a lesson in evidence-based practice, I think…

    • suchende

      “What if we harm 100,000 children through our interventions, but save the life of one child?”

      What if we used real data instead of pulling bullshit numbers out of our ass?

      • Anj Fabian

        Apparently anthropology is not a rigorous field.

        • t.

          Anthropology is ridden by ideologies. People try to do honest anthropology often find themselves criticized not to follow the various ideologies, sadly enough.

          • KarenJJ

            Melissa Cheyney?

    • Esther

      I missed it the first reading, but she even mentions swaddling and hatting among the harmful practices done to poor innocent newborns. Comedy gold, I tell you!

      • rh1985

        But baby hats are so CUTE. How could something so CUTE be harmful? :(

        • Elizabeth A

          Have you seen the Finnish baby boxes? Those hats have little *bear ears* on them! You can’t hurt a baby with bear ears!

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            You can’t hurt a baby with bear ears!

            Well, if the ears are attached to a real bear…

          • rh1985

            Bears are natural though. how about a bear assisted birth?

          • Eddie

            I apologize in advance for the horrible image, but my first thing after reading that was, “A bear-assisted C-Section doesn’t seem like a wise idea.”

          • rh1985

            oh got a link? that sounds adorable! I already have some hats for the baby I’m trying to have – I have the cutest unisex one with little owl ears and an owl face….

          • Elizabeth A

            Complete baby box contents are here:

            http://www.kela.fi/web/en/maternitypackage

          • rh1985

            that is a cute hat! If I get pregnant, i will have to see if I can find a similar hat to buy here in the US.

      • GiddyUpGo123

        “unnecessary c-sections, unnecessary separation from mother, unnecessary interventions such as routine fetal heart monitoring, epidurals, early cord cutting, suctioning, hatting, swaddling, vigorous scrubbing baths, immediate eye drops, immediate circumcision, formula supplementation, etc. etc. etc.”

        As far as I know (and please correct me if I’m wrong!) none of those things have ever been shown to cause actual harm of any kind, let alone the massive “permanent” harm she’s implying. Her whole statement is so beyond obnoxious; imagine saying this to someone who lost a child because she didn’t have access to those “harmful” interventions: “Well sure your ONE child died, but think of all the babies who weren’t hatted, swaddled or vigorously scrubbed after birth! Wasn’t it worth it??”

        • AmyM

          Who vigorously scrubs a newborn? I know they rub them with towels, but that is not the same as soap-infused Brillo pads that she is implying. I would like her to expand on the harm done by hatting and swaddling. What kinds of errant behaviors should I be on the lookout for in my children? What diseases are they more susceptible to now? Should I get them therapy? When it will be obvious that they aren’t normal and need help?….Oh god. Is THAT why one of them tripped head first into a chain-link fence yesterday?!!! It must have been the hat!! If only I’d left his misshapen head bare after birth, let him get chilly in the dark January days in Mass….maybe his head would be…thicker? More resistant to bumps and bruises?

          • BeatlesFan

            I couldn’t keep a hat on DD’s head to save my life while in the hospital- her head wasn’t particularly large, but the hats flew right off as soon as she moved around at all. Clearly, she knew better than I and will now blame me for forcibly hatting her when she doesn’t get a full scholarship to Stanford.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Yes, but what will you do if she does get a full scholarship to Stanford?

          • BeatlesFan

            Brag. :) And spend her college fund on a beach house in Hawaii.

          • Laural

            When I was in the newborn nursery we did scrub them with (soft) brushes. Especially the ones with lots of hair… I’d even use a really fine toothed comb to get out all of the ‘bits’- of birth stuff. And (horrors) I used soap and a washcloth and I took pride in getting every nook and cranny and I took pride in getting the temperature just right- the babies would get so serene when I rinsed their heads- I always thought it reminded them of where they just were- I’d talk and coo to those sweet babies and they’d be so clean. Good thing my address isn’t on this thing or I’d get hate mail, lol. But, seriously, best. job. ever.

          • sleuther

            When I had my 2nd daughter at the hospital, my husband & I skipped most of the “classes”… I remember one nurse asked, “Did you go to the newborn bathing class?” and my husband piped up, “No – you clean a newborn with a stiff wire brush and kerosene, right?”

            Said nurse did not ‘get’ his sense of humor…. we had to explain that it was just a joke…. (oops.)

          • ngozi

            You have me crying tears of laughter…

        • Elizabeth A

          really, it’s hysterically funny that she mentions immediate circumcision and baby hats in the same sentence.

          • auntbea

            Not having a boy, is there even really such a thing as *immediate* circumcision? As in, “Yep, he’s breathing, let’s cut him?” Don’t they usually wait at least a few days?

          • Elizabeth A

            Having had a boy, they want to do it before you leave the hospital, but not right after birth. They were VERY clear that it was our say whether it was done at all. They won’t do a circumcision on an infant who isn’t stable and doing well.

            There are plenty of NICU parents who initially plan to circ, but forget about it after the first few days, and then, when the doctors bring it up, decide to pass because their baby has already been through so much and they (the parents) just can’t take any more.

    • deafgimp

      She is aware that Neanderthals started weaning at 7 months, just like modern mothers do, right? Nah, I’m sure she’s dismissing that tidbit of knowledge.

      • Anj Fabian

        That was an n=1 and more interesting because of the novel technique used.

        Yes, Dr. Dettwyler would toss that data out because it doesn’t support her beliefs.

      • Lindsay Beyerstein

        How do we know when Neanderthals weaned their babies? Bone isotope analysis of babies who died in infancy?

        • Ainsley Nicholson

          There was a study published in Nature in May about the analysis of a single Neanderthal tooth that found that weaning began around 7 months and was complete at 15 months, for that individual. NPR reported on it:

          http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/05/24/185813855/Scientific-Tooth-Fairies-Investigate-Neanderthal-Breastfeeding

          I haven’t read the paper, but I don’t think they claim to have determined when ALL Neanderthals weaned. For this one individual, however, the weaning pattern was much like we find in modern humans.

          • Lindsay Beyerstein

            Very cool, thanks.

      • R

        That was ONE baby. And most children are introduced to solids between 6 and 9 months – that is the start of “weaning”, but that doesn’t mean that all babies immediately stop breastfeeding.

        The information is more about the fact that it was something that happened to that child (and thus in the realm of possibility for other neanderthal children) rather than something that always happened for all neanderthal children. You also realize that modern humans are not purely descended from Neanderthals, but that modern *homo sapiens* are likely born of interbreeding of the other genus *homo* species, right?

    • Dr Kitty

      I don’t think she understands that concepts like QALYS are used to drive practice, and that what they do is EXACTLY that, work out what damage is done, and weighs it up against harms done to drive practice.

      Epic fail Ms Dettwyler.

    • Lizzie Dee

      All of that is just…so…DUMB. Where are all these babies that have been harmed?

      Now as the mother of that one baby saved, (sadly not soon enough) I would say that it there were any hard, real evidence that 100 – maybe even 10 – babies had been harmed to save mine, I might concede that there was a problem. But the idea that mine should be sacrificed so that mothers could have a nicer birth experience to write about on MDC…Get real.

      As for not having children if you are not going to buy into this twaddle, I think I might be persuaded that women who can make a lifelong tragedy out of a hat should maybe consider getting a kitten instead.

    • ol

      If someone denies science or put his ideas and groupthinking above science
      then he can’t use scientific methods to analyse the reality. It even
      doesn’t come to mind. These are different ways of thinking, different
      languages.

    • lucy logan

      this woman is a crappy anthropologist.

    • NatalieRW

      Someone obviously didn’t take her biostats in getting her anthropology degree. There ARE tests for that!! and modern medicine uses them. All the time.
      Depending on the research design you can use: odds ratio, relative risk, attributable risk, absolute risk reduction, number needed to treat and number needed to harm.
      Look at all those ways we can scientifically evaluate the risks and benefits of medical care. Amazing.

      On a side note, anyone against GBS testing or antibiotic eye ointment infuriates me. These women need to tour a NICU.

  • Jessica
    • Lindsay Beyerstein

      If I thought my only two options were delivery alone under my front porch or delivering with a wacko trying to pimp my boobs, UC might seem like the better choice.

    • Sin embargo

      Comments in the thread:

      I have yet to read one story that the WOMAN birthing says she felt the urge to do such and such. IMO Ina May gets them all high and doped up and then procedes to direct the birth in a manner that SHE would want a birth to happen. I read the caption under one picture and the mom was saying her best friend who her and the father wanted there was kicked out by Ina May and at first was resistant but saw how Ina May needed him gone in order to establish the mood.

      She almost makes birth perverted. I hate to say that but the lack of general respect for the moma and the birth and labour and the husband and anyone they want there and the constant crass language and the taking it upon herself to direct anything sexual (whether verbally or physically) makes it feel dirty and misused. I come away feeling violated on many levels and I’m sober and only reading it!

      Not a fan of Ina May at all. I wonder if any women have ever felt ‘birth raped’ by her, but wouldn’t feel free coming out with it because she is such a pioneer?

      I’ve often wondered about why the mom’s don’t say anything. Then it dawns on me…almost all of them are high and/or drunk and have very few clear thoughts. It’s all about the trip and how psychedelic it was and how in tune with Ina they were. It’s very cult like. I wonder how much of it wasn’t ran in a cult type fashion. Especially in the early days…she documents that they were malnourished and had a rough go in the beginning hygeine/food/water wise. A malnourished brain high on drugs is going to be very easily influenced! That’s how a lot of groups “break in” new recruits. I know a lot of her birth stories are from the beginning, heck there are some that take place in the bus on the way to their final destination! Ina May and Stephen both have an odd amount of love and adoration (for those who don’t know…for awhile Stephen was married to more than one person before he had a revelation that it wasn’t “ok” for their group). A lot of the stories show a warped thinking pattern that really makes me think that things weren’t always as kosher as Ina May makes them out to be.

      • ratiomom

        Am I to understand that she administers psychedelic drugs/alcohol to women in labor?! WTF? Are these the same people who make huge dramas about their babies being exposed to homeopathic amounts of opiates from epidurals??

        • KarenJJ

          I’m taking that claim with a grain of salt. Surely the type of crunchy mum that goes to the Farm is not getting off her face while she delivers. That does seem pretty odd…

          • AmyP

            But would the use of “herbal” remedies during labor to relax the mother surprise us that much? These are old hippies we’re talking about.

          • KumquatWriter

            New hippies aren’t afraid of drugs either.

          • staceyjw

            In the beginning there were drugs- this is about those stories. Maybe it changed over the years, but psychedelics were vital there. It would not surprise me a bit to know they are smoking pot and doing mushrooms while in labor, they are natural after all…. LOTS of the NCBers NOW do this stuff, I am sure it was even more common back then, when the Farm first opened.

        • Eddie

          I had exactly the same reaction.

          In the opposite direction, Elvis really looked down on those who used illegal drugs, even as he was totally addicted to prescription drugs, because his were “legal.” It’s funny the ways people have of rationalizing why their use makes perfect sense while others’ use is criminal.

        • Jessica

          The way I understood it is that these were birth stories from the early days of The Farm, when drug use was quite rampant (and apparently the people had inadequate food and so were quite ravenous, if not starving).

          What sort of amazes me is that the modern-day NCBers who rave about IMG and the birth stories don’t connect the dots that the ecstatic, spiritual births she describes aren’t the result of an intervention free birth, but quite possibly the result of psychedelic drugs and near-starvation. Geez, you do enough drugs and eating dirt could be a euphoric and spiritual experience….

      • Lisa Cybergirl

        I’ve often wondered about why the mom’s don’t say anything. Then it dawns on me…almost all of them are high and/or drunk and have very few clear thoughts
        Sounds a lot like date rape…

  • Lindsay Beyerstein

    Funny story. Last week, I was looking for a 60 Minutes documentary on immigration called “All-American Canal,” when I googled it, the first hit was a Daily Beast story about orgasmic birth. It’s not on the front page of the search results anymore, which gives me faith in Google’s self-correcting algorithms. Either that or the NSA noticed and was like, “What the hell?”

  • rh1985

    So creepy and gross.

  • theadequatemother
    • Lena

      Heard about that on NGM’s facebook. Lots of freaking out, with NGM disappointingly and bizarrely stating that maybe she’d feel differently about HBACs if she had ever witnessed a uterine rupture, but probably not because she’s seen so many dystocias and she was fine with those.

      I guess it’s impossible to completely eradicate the fuckery in NCB land. No matter how reasonable a person is, eventually the crazy will show.

      • theadequatemother

        She also has said she would be fine with her daughter (who had cs with her first I believe) having an HBAC.

        • Antigonos CNM

          I think NGM’s daughter is too intelligent to do so. She apparently never considered homebirth with her first, despite Mom’s obvious desire for her to do so.

          NGM is an intelligent woman and far better educated than the average CPM. However, she has some fairly serious personal issues in her life, and I think she is definitely unstable. A history of depression, which she admits to [I think it is more a bipolar problem], chronic health problems, after being married and having children she has been in a long term lesbian relationship with a partner who now insists on being recognized as a male…NGM is definitely not a well-balanced individual. At times her posts seem extremely sensible and rational, at other times she seems off the wall. I think that on some level she is aware of this: she has stopped attending homebirths as a midwife and works as a doula.

          • Dr Kitty

            Hey, let’s not bring her sexuality or the fact that her partner is Trans into it. Who she loves is not a sign of emotional imbalance.

          • KarenJJ

            No of course not. But if I put on an arm chair psychologist hat – what happens if a young women is not heterosexual and yet wants a family, especially a large family? I could imagine a career as a lay midwife as being an outlet for sexual tension while being married to a man. Of course not all lay midwives are like this, and not all male obgyns/midwives are in that career for any sexual reasons. Unfortunately the lack of regulation of lay midwifery means that if a patient is sexually abused means the patient has no means of reporting or preventing others suffering the same.

          • Lizzie Dee

            Who she loves is not necessarily a sign of emotional imbalance – but, as with Ina May, being very frank with strangers about sexual matters outside the boring norm can get you looked at a bit funny. I don’t much mind what anyone does, but I would rather they didn’t SHARE.

            Your tolerance and understanding does you credit and you are of course right.

          • Eddie

            One thing I respect about this blog and its commenters is that it is not, in fact, an echo chamber, and that people call each other out regularly. I respect your integrity.

            My understanding (maybe incorrect) was that the allegation was not that she had a “bad” sexual identity, but that she had an unstable one. Of course, maybe she’s bi. I have no idea and don’t really care either way. I have no opinion about NGM, almost never having read her blog.

            I wonder, sometimes, how much less unhappy and/or disturbed many trans individuals would be if our culture were not so judgemental of them. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to be in that position.

          • KumquatWriter

            Word.

          • slandy09

            If I remember correctly, she said in a blog post that she had helped her daughter look for a HCP for the pregnancy, even interviewing some home birth midwives, and she was disgusted with the home birth midwives. I don’t think she even attends home births as a doula anymore.

            I also remember how angry she was at the “arm chair quarterbacks” during her daughter’s labor and eventual c-section.

      • fiftyfifty1

        NGM has never been reasonable. Just less totally batshit crazy than most.

      • mamaellie

        Yeah I’ve been on her blog recently and found myself completely offended, vowing never to return.

      • LovleAnjel

        So the fact that uterine ruptures are more common with VBACs, and that they kill women and babies, means nothing because she hasn’t personally seen someone die from one? WTF?

        • Lena

          Pretty much. She’s puzzled by midwives who’ve stopped attending HBACs after witnessing a rupture,and wonders if she’d feel the same but probably not because she’s seen so many dystocias without a problem. I’m not exaggerating at all–that’s really what she said.

          • Guestll

            SD is no joke, but someone who is trained to manage SD can usually (not always) resolve it. UR, OTOH — nothing you can do at home but transfer and hope for the best.
            I like Barb, but she’s dead wrong about HBAC.

  • Lena

    So a cervical check is rape but having your “tits” (really?!) grabbed and your “button” (my eye is twitching) rubbed by your midwife is totally a natural part of the birth process.

    Makes sense.

  • Lynnie

    That does NOT sound like the hands off and all natural approach these natural birth sheeple seem to say they want. They protest the occasional cervix check and allow themselves to be fondled in this manner??? There is a difference between an exam and assault, and what this describes is most definitely assault in my mind.

  • niblet

    i was under the spell Spiritual Midwifery’s “woo” for quite some time….I also recall one laboring mother’s birth story, and how she worried the other mothers would think she was a “paddy ass” for fearing the pain in birth. She was encouraged with such uplifting remarks as “I’ve seen you working in the fields.” Yes, because picking cabbages is SO SIMILAR to childbirth. I think IMG is a birth bully.

  • ratiomom

    Just imagine a male OB uttering those words in any setting… he`d never work again. It`s so outrageous that I suspect there is something else than a conventional patient-provider relationship going on.

    Perhaps women who give birth with IMG know in advance what they are getting into? Remember rule 34 people!

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Rule%2034
    That would make this the equivalent of a `happy-end` massage during birth. Still extremely unprofessional, though

  • Comrade X

    1) Sexually assaulting people is abhorrent.

    2) Sexually assaulting people who are especially vulnerable (like, say, in extreme pain and frightened and in the midst of a potentially dangerous medical situation) is about as low as you can get.

    3) There is one person in this world who has the right to invite my husband to touch my breasts. One. That person is me.

    4) I have no problem with non-technical terms for parts of the human anatomy. I love my tits and respect my awesome thundercunt of power. I also expect medical professionals to use the clearest and most emotionally-neutral language that they can when explaining technical matters to me. I do not expect to have them impose their politico-linguistic preferences on me based on their current mood or whim.

    5) Wtf is a “taint”? Seriously? That’s got to be one of the most offensive words for the vulva/vagina that I’ve ever heard. May I suggest that if you think of female genitalia as a “taint” (of any sort), perhaps assisting women in childbirth is not your vocation in life.

    • auntbea

      It’s the perineum. So called because it “taint” the vagina and it “taint” the anus.

      • Comrade X

        Aaaaaaaaaah! I stand corrected then.

        • Staceyjw

          It IS used to describe the vulva/vagina.

          And “thundercunt” WINS the day.

      • KumquatWriter

        e.g. “My c/s left my taint untainted.”

    • Snuffly

      I thought she was just using the term taint for the general area. It’s also the term for the bit of a pair of trousers where the two inner leg seams join – ie in the crotch area.

  • auntbea

    Well, I guess if this is how she feels about vaginas, it is not
    surprising she believes that the process of birth is perfect. We don’t
    ever like to believe that the organs, I mean people, we are infatuated
    with have flaws.

  • Spamamander

    Immediately recognized the quotes. Thank Dog I only read my copy of Spiritual Midwifery for ideas about the experience during a pagan-y phase and had enough sense to know I wanted to have my baby in the hospital. And that my CNM was 100% supportive when I wanted the epidural after 14 hours of labor.

  • Susan

    When I read those quotes I remembered reading them in Spiritual Midwifery. I think I have shared that the first two pregnancy books a friend gave me were Spiritual Midwifery and Immaculate Deception. What a set up!
    I can just see Ina May feeling victimized that you dare to hold her to the same standards she would hold a doctor to. She has a special and unique sensitivity to birth that makes it “ok” that she massages “buttons” and shows husbands how to massage breasts. She really “loves” women and that makes it ok. And as others have said, child predators claim that their “love” for children is just misunderstood.
    She’ll be calling up Human Right in Childbirth to campaign for a woman’s right to a midwife who will massage sexually in birth. It’s her RIGHT to have the kind of care she wants! It’s all, obviously, about the midwife’s rights to give whatever care or attend any birth in any style she wants. It’s as if a children’s rights campaign was run by predators advocating the rights of children to be molested.

  • Chelsea Frost

    That is sexual assault, plain and simple. Nasty, gross and the epitome of unprofessional.

    • Lindsay Beyerstein

      It’s not sexual assault if the patient knows that this is part of Ina May’s treatment in advance and consents to this kind of intervention. Blurring the boundaries between sex and health care is a terrible idea, but it’s not assault in and of itself.

      • Eddie

        I agree with you. But still, for a health professional, wouldn’t this kind of conduct cause their license to be revoked?

        • Lindsay Beyerstein

          Absolutely! Because these are self-regulating professions with compassion, common sense, and standards, unlike fringe midwives.

          Just to clarify: I’m not saying that what Ina May is doing is okay in any way, shape or form. It’s dangerous to be doing these things even to nominally consenting patients because of the inherent power imbalance, the vulnerability of the laboring woman, and so on. I just want to differentiate between sexual assault and other inappropriate kinds of touching under the guise of health care. Consent makes all the difference.

          I bet Ina May has touched women without their consent because she obviously doesn’t give a damn and because her style of practice lends itself to running roughshod over women’s wishes and boundaries. So, she probably is guilty of assault in some cases. Sadly, it’s unlikely that these abuses will ever come to the attention of other midwives or the law because she’s running, well, a cult.

          • Jenny Splitter

            I agree with you — everyone is saying that this is assault, and if it happened without consent then it certainly is, but it’s also possible that she lets women know that she’s not afraid to “sensually massage” them during birth and they’re totally fine with it.

          • Petanque

            Are they really objectively “fine with it”, or are they absorbed into the brainwashing woo? If they weren’t fine, how could they say “no”?

          • Jenny Splitter

            Right, who knows, although I feel like you might get a sense of what’s up early on but then perhaps at that point you can’t do anything about it. Maybe that’s why Naomi Wolf didn’t give birth there, though she does like to celebrate her vagina.

          • Squillo

            Possibly. It also matters a great deal when she says this. If it’s when they’re already at the Farm, miles from any other help, about to give birth (i.e., totally at the mercy of a charismatic cult leader), the idea of consent becomes a bit problematic.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        If the manner in which it is offered is given under false pretenses, especially by a person in power, it is still assault.

      • Chelsea Frost

        By that logic, a boyfriend can’t rape his girlfriend if she’s consented to sex with him in the past.

        • Lindsay Beyerstein

          How do you figure that? If a patient reads Spiritual Midwifery and goes to IMG and says, “I understand that you perform clitoral stimulation during labor, I would like to be your patient and I would like you to do that for me,” that’s consent. A patient can revoke her consent at any time, and if the caregiver doesn’t respect her wishes, it’s assault.

          Sane people realize that it’s a very bad idea to offer quasi-sexual stimulation to women in labor even if they consent in advance because they may not feel comfortable saying no, or may not be able to say no if they change their minds. The risk of accidentally touching someone against her will is too high to make this an ethical treatment.

          Even so, if IMG performs this kind of massage on a patient who affirmatively consented in advance, and who continues to consent during the procedure, it’s not sexual assault. It’s weird, it’s inappropriate. It might even count as cheating in some relationships. (If you’re in a monogamous relationship, why is it more okay to get a hand job from a midwife than from a masseur?) But as long as the woman is okay with what IMG’s doing to her, it’s not rape.

          • Chelsea Frost

            The whole consent thing is “how I figure that”. Nowhere in the quote above does IMG mention consent. And you cannot just assume that every woman who goes to IMG is informed about all IMG’s practices.

          • Lindsay Beyerstein

            But how do you figure this is like saying that a woman can’t be raped by her boyfriend because they’ve had sex before?

            I don’t assume that all IMG’s patients are fully informed. I agree that it’s sexual assault if she just springs this kind of touching on an unsuspecting woman in labor. If a woman has delivered with her before and accepted this kind of touching, IMG would still have an obligation to check in and make sure she’s okay with it the second time around.

            As I said in my earlier comment, I don’t doubt that IMG has assaulted women in labor before. I just don’t think that it’s automatically rape for IMG to touch her patients in this way if they consent to it. I can’t turn around on the internet without someone quoting chapter and verse from Spiritual Midwifery, so I assume there are lots of women who know what Ina May is offering and seek it out.

          • Chelsea Frost

            And frankly, KumquatWriter posted a pretty good response below. The power differential is a determinant in whether its sexual assault.

  • Its_nothing_personal

    I’d like to preface this comment with “Ew. No thank you.”

    BUT… There are a lot of ways that woman choose to give birth. If Ina’s method (whether popular/socially acceptable or not) helps empower a woman in what could otherwise be a very scary or horrible experience then more power to her. I can only hope that the expectant mother that signs up for this kind of treatment fully understands and is totally on board before getting groped on the big day.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      No.

      This is completely inappropriate.

      As others have said, imagine this coming from a male OB. It would warrant criminal charges.

      The language here is absolutely sexual predatory. This woman has crossed way over the line of professional ethics.

      • auntbea

        I’m pretty sure these comments from a male OB would produce an outcry, and a visit from the professional ethics people, but I am fairly sure it would not warrant criminal charges unless the woman says she didn’t consent.

        • thepixiechick

          Criminal charges may not be laid without the patient’s co-operation, but they would be reported to the licensing board, suspended, investigated and almost certainly deregistered.

      • quadrophenic

        A male OB would lose his license. Does she even have a license to lose?

        • KarenJJ

          No wonder she had to make up her own qualification. She can’t get kicked off.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      The problem with predators is that they tend to be in socially powerful positions. For a homebirth advocate, it’s difficult to think of anyone more powerful in that community than Ina May Gaskin.

      Think about what the women who lose babies have to face from the homebirth community when they suggest that homebirth is dangerous. Can you imagine the treatment they would receive if they made an accusation against Ina May Gaskin?

      Probably the most appalling thing about these appalling quotes is how many homebirth advocates have known about them all along but given Ina May a pass. It basically doesn’t matter what she does; they will never acknowledge her wrongdoing.

      • Jenny Splitter

        Maybe she’s all talk? Has anyone given birth at the Farm and complained about it publicly? There must be someone.

        • Karen in SC

          An article from 1985 Mother Earth Review is out of date but gives insight into the cult thinking.

          http://www.kk.org/writings/why_we_left_the_farm.pdf

          • Jenny Splitter

            I’ve read a few things about the Farm (thank you though, that was interesting!) so I’m familiar and I guess what i’m saying is that some women might be totally okay with this.

            There are all these comments about her use of the words cunt and twat and all that. Not to point out the obvious but the vulgarity of the words isn’t the problem. I mean, if she said vajayjay or whatever, that would still be just as unprofessional.

    • Bombshellrisa

      How does a healthcare provider empower someone by massaging their genitals and encouraging their birth partner to do the same? This is not the same thing as the women who pack vibrators hoping that arousal and orgasms will make labor more tolerable and move things along faster.

  • http://Www.awaitingjuno.blogspot.com/ Mrs. W

    That is just so disturbing on so many levels.

  • Dr Kitty

    Top tip for IMG about professionalism in OB, it doesn’t actually matter what name you feel like giving your own genitalia that day.
    You use proper, respectful, correct language with your patients, and save the slang terms for your own bedroom.

    Occasionally I will use a slang term if my patients don’t understand the correct anatomical term, but in that case I’ll use terms that I would feel comfortable saying in front of a small child or elderly person.

    I say things like “any trouble with the waterworks, or with the periods, private parts or in the bedroom” as an opening gambit, and try to keep it at that level.

    Using the kind of language IMG chooses is not only immature and unprofessional. I think actually detrimental to establishing rapport because it crosses boundaries most people have about how they expect care providers to refer to their bodies.

    It is actually passive-aggressive ” I like using these words, so you better get used to it. Why, got a PROBLEM with these words? Huh? Do ya?”

  • Anaesthetist

    Anaesthetist here, returning from the wilds but unable to remember my password

    OK, Im not shocked by the language at all – you get such language used by patients, – as students we did several sessions on desensitizing ourselves to it, and having some knowledge of terms, slang and euphemisms (just like having some knowledge of drug related terms) which could aid communication. So that if Mrs X came in talking about her taint or Miss Y complained she had a problem with her flower you wouldnt raise an eyebrow. Because sometimes patients dont have a ‘polite’ or medical term for something, or know the difference between vulva and vagina, and dont intend to insult but are just using the terms they are comfortable with.
    And last thing you would want to do is prevent someone seeking help for their problem because they felt stupid or patronized or the doctor looked at them askance while they tried to explain something.

    The point is – I know such terms, I can hear them with equanimity and without a change in expression in a medical setting – thats professionalism. But I would never mirror them back to a patient or question them about their symptoms using such terms, that would be utterly unprofessional. And I cant understand fetishising (cant spell that and really dont want to google!) or relishing the use of such words in any medical context in the way IMG seems to.

    And as for the touching, massage etc she describes – sorry, its assault

    Deeply creepy, and I would not want this person providing any type of personal care or medical services

  • Jenny Splitter

    Oh Jesus.

  • Captain Obvious

    I am in shock. I did not expect this was about Ina May. Any legitimate health care provider would lose their license or at least get probation and sensitivity training for sexual harassment. How unprofessional. She needs a chaperone when she examines clients.

    • Dr Kitty

      A state appointed chaperone, not another “midwife” from the Farm.

      I really don’t think she has any insight into the boundaries that are being crossed here, I have suspicions she isn’t the only one in that place with the same lack of regard for boundaries.

  • AmyP

    I once had a male ultrasound tech conclude a transvaginal exam with a hug. I felt REALLY weird about that but didn’t have the presence of mind to explain that it was inappropriate because I was so shocked.

    This one is off the charts.

  • Awesomemom

    Every day I read this blog I am more and more grateful for the professional OBs that did such an awesome job caring for me and my children. I want to write them all letters and say “Thank you for not sexually molesting me.”

  • Ducky

    Wow. Yup. Nope.

  • Ripley_rules

    I think Ina May likes to deliver babies in order fulfill certain repressed desires….Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That…..

    • Wren

      Well, nothing is wrong with the desires. Much is wrong with the method she’s using to fulfill them.

    • http://Www.awaitingjuno.blogspot.com/ Mrs. W

      Yes there is something wrong with that.

  • AmyP

    I hope rubber gloves are used (and disposed of) after the perineal massage, but I suspect I may be asking too much.

    I was totally faked out by this post, assuming that the quotes were from some internet-trained wacko 23-year-old CPM with dreadlocks and 40 births under her belt, rather than coming directly from the Birth Goddess herself.

  • LibrarianSarah

    If ANYONE grabbed my breast without my consent they would be getting slapped hard.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    Someone should start the website “Ina May Said What??!!”

    • I don’t have a creative name

      Sounds like you just found another use for your time. :D

      • violinwidow

        Instead of learning to knit?

    • areawomanpdx

      Whoever does it, make sure the Sphincter Law is on there. I’m sure Edition 3 of her book is a gold mine, before they whitewashed it for the BOBB masses.

      • thankfulmom

        Did she (or the editor) clean up the language in more recent editions?

        • Gypsy Mama

          … I think this language is from the most recent edition…

  • mamaellie

    If this happened to me during labor I would absolutely feel violated. If someone were to violate one of my daughters in this way or speak about her body this way I would be out for blood.

  • Isilzha

    She obviously has a sexual fetish for birth.

    • PrecipMom

      She isn’t necessarily the only one. I watched the documentary on Agnes Gereb, and that woman looked like a sexual predator in the birth videos I saw. It was as if she was feeding off of the pregnant women. One of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen.

    • Antigonos CNM

      She’s not the only one. Decades ago I was definitely taken aback to read Sheila Kissinger’s paean to the ecstasy of pushing a baby out through “the ring of fire” and said to myself “This woman is a serious masochist”. And, in quiet hours in L&D I’ve had conversations with male OBs who remark on how they’ve coped with pregnant patients who verbally [and occasionally, physically] attempted to seduce them no matter how neutral they try to be and how to diffuse potentially explosive situations with husbands as well. In a heightened emotional state, even shaking hands can be misinterpreted. Contrariwise, we have all heard stories of inappropriate behavior initiated by male doctors [and the eternal debate over the propriety of "male midwives" who are supposed to be less asexual than male doctors somehow] Pregnancy and birth are sexual issues.

  • I don’t have a creative name

    Most cults have an unhealthy obsession with/view on sex. Many times this involves pedophilia, other times it’s situations where all female members are expected to service the leader in any way he likes, or various other weird, creepy things. It’s not surprising that the wife of a cult leader sexualizes birth to this extreme, playing with breasts and clitorises, and referring to them by crude names. God only knows what weird crap really goes on at the Farm.

    • Captain Obvious

      David Koresh, Waco Texas

  • gentry

    So, she’s an elderly porn star in her free time….she’s sexy and she knows it. So very disturbing and unprofessional on so, so many levels. But, that’s right, she’s not a professional….

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    As I think about it, I am reminded of the old psychiatrists, who used to think that the cure for women’s demons was that they needed an orgasm. Note that you will see vibrators among the old medical instruments.

    Nowadays, that is considered highly unethical. Unless, of course, you are a midwife…

    • Karen in SC

      There is a play about this long-ago treatment, “In the Next Room.” I saw it last year with some friends. It was quite funny and an interesting look at being a woman back then.

      You should have seen the size of the doctor’s vibrator LOL!

    • Eddie

      Wasn’t Kellogg (of the cereal magnate family) a proponent of these kinds of treatments?

      • Pappy

        Hello friends! TheHappyPappy back here, and I’ve changed my name again just to confuse you!

        No, actually I finally sorted out my disqus/google/whatever it is account and I ended up with a new handle as a result.

        Anyway, since you mentioned Kellog, I have to plug the movie The Road to Wellville. It’s a really funny comedy which includes both a performance from “Dr. Kellog” AND a doctor who masturbates female patients to cure their mental problems. Really, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time and I’m endlessly disappointed that no one has heard of it.

        I just checked and it’s on YouTube! Yay! I’m making popcorn!

        • Eddie

          I wanted to mention that movie but couldn’t remember the name. All I could remember is that that guy who played O’Brien on Star Trek:TNG was in it. (Colm Meaney) Yes, that’s a very funny movie and loosely based on real events. Anthony Hopkins as Dr Kellogg. The cereal company was founded by his brother, I think.

          Here’s a review of the movie that gives some historical background by way of compare/contrast to the movie: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/jul/29/road-to-wellville-reel-history

          For anyone that has free time and wants to see 100-year-old woo, I recommend reading Dr Kellogg’s book at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/19924 A quote relevant to this blog is:

          We have sufficient evidence of this in
          the fact that among barbarian women, who are generally less perverted physically than civilized women, childbirth is regarded with very little apprehension, since it occasions little pain or inconvenience. The same is true of many women among the lower laboring classes. In short, while it is true that more or less suffering must always accompany the parturient act, yet the excessive pain usually attendant upon the process is the result of causes which can in many cases be removed by proper management beforehand and at the time of confinement.

  • amazonmom

    Oh my. What on earth makes Ina May think that is ok?

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      The more interesting question is why anyone would think Ina May is okay?

      • Antigonos CNM

        I note, sadly, that At Your Cervix, who’s just completed her CNM, was at a Frontier Nursing School conference and her group all went on pilgrimage to The Farm. That the FNS should think this appropriate for midwifery professionals is disturbing to me, as they were really the pioneers in the profession in the States.

  • Jessica

    This is just disgusting – and not in a prudish sense, but because it’s a gross violation of a laboring woman’s bodily integrity. I’m shuddering just thinking about it.

  • Bystander

    That is a sex offender in word and deed. Please tell me she’s not still practicing.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Agree. That is a sexual offender.

  • Amy

    Clutching my pearls! Good Heavens.

    • Squillo

      Hey, just be glad Ina May didn’t use that phrase in her book.

  • Squillo

    Amy, do you have page numbers for the quotes? My library carries the 4th edition and I’d like to make a copy of the relevant bits.

    • schnitzelbank

      Even the phrase “relevant bits” is making me raise my eyebrows.

  • Meredith Watson

    Disgusting

  • HolyWowBatman

    I feel violated just reading this…and I hate that this is in”spiritual” midwifery. These attitudes and actions are neither spiritual nor midwifery

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Jeez, _I_ feel violated, and I’m a friggin guy.

      • Zornorph

        Yeah, that totally creeped me out as well. I wouldn’t let that woman anywhere near my baby.

    • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

      More like Carnal Midwifery.

      • Pappy

        Coming next year to a health food store near you!

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    BTW, I think the “My Midwife Said What?” meter has exploded.

    • Karen in SC

      Put it on the “My OB Said What?” then reveal who really said it….

      • Jocelyn

        I really want to put it on the mothering.com forums, with a slightly changed title – something like, “Should I hire this midwife?” and then see what they all say.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          That would be a good idea, but then you’d have to actually visit mdc. It’s not worth it.

          • LibrarianSarah

            Never mind that your post would be scrubbed out of existence in no time flat making it an epic waste of your time.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Actually, Jocelyn, say that it was an OB who said it, and then say, whoops, not an OB…

      • Squillo

        That is a great idea. Too late now, though.

        • Karen in SC

          why is it too late? do you think that a lot of NCBers read this blog?

          • Squillo

            Yup.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Remember, the doctors are the ones who commit “birth rape” because they do things like check a cervix.

    I always defend doctors on the grounds that they are professionals, and separate anatomy and bodily function from their sexual connotations.

    Apparently, Ina May can’t. She is absolutely a predator to be feared.

    • Eddie

      Puzzled attempt at sarcasm: Maybe if they were gentle and loving in the process, not all “medical” and rough, it would be different?

    • Antigonos CNM

      Re doctors who commit “birth rape” with PV exams: is it still rape if the examiner is a female OB? I think the whole fantasy of “birth rape” is directed against men, not OBs as such.

  • NatalieRW

    “puss” “taint” “cunt” “button” “tits” “twat”
    That language alone makes her sound less mature and more foul mouthed than an 8th grader.
    The actions– wow. Any real professional would lose their license. Remember the comments a while back debating the inappropriate THOUGHTS a physician may have doing a gynecological exam?
    And women think this is a more respectful, trusting alternative?
    Wow.

    • Captain Obvious

      I thought Dr Fischbein had issues with his proposed “consensual relationship” with his active patient. Ina is a predator, molesting multiple patients. Police should be involved.

      • NatalieRW

        yup. In our clinical rotations orientation we had a full hour of lecture dedicated to zero sexual relations with patients. Period. Then they gave us examples.

        There’s currently a physician in JAIL for having a consensual, adult relationship with a patient. It’s not ethical, plain and simple.

      • Eddie

        I’ve known people who had “consensual” relations with their therapists. There’s a special place in hell for those people. As so many others have pointed out and as you say, these people are predators taking advantage of a power relationship.

  • Charlotte

    Doctors who do this get stripped of their licenses and sent to jail. I don’t see why a midwife should be allowed to get away with it.

    • staceyjw

      because no one complains.
      Sad but true.

  • Karen in SC

    You really can’t make this stuff up! Dr. Amy is right, the NCB world is like a huge fountain with three fonts: idiocy, untruths and tragedies.

  • Jocelyn

    This is so bizarre and disgusting I don’t even know what to say. This is sexually violating. I wonder if Ina May’s followers know that she advocates molestation during labor?

    • BeatlesFan

      Since they seem to regard her books as their bible, I assume they do… but I’m sure when she does it, it isn’t molestation, it’s her “assisting” or something. You know, totally different from those birth-raping c-sections.

  • Guesteleh

    I’m convinced that NCB followers include a large percentage of women who have a history of sexual abuse. So now you’re placing your care in the hands of a woman who doesn’t respect boundaries and has no understanding of PTSD triggers and probably doesn’t give a shit anyway because it’s not about the woman it’s her self-aggrandizement as a sexual nature earth mother goddess or whatever the fuck. And Ina May is being held up by mainstream media outlets as some kind of birth guru. This is horrifying.

  • GiddyUpGo123

    Oh. My. God. Can you say “birth rape??”

  • staceyjw

    HOLY SHIT, how totally inappropriate for a MW.

    But NOT inappropriate from a CULT MEMBER, following her husband.

  • Ethan’s mom

    I think I just smurfed in my mouth!

  • Yammy

    Bizarro world: Birth trauma in a hospital is referred to as “birth rape”…yet here we have a prominent midwife, highly regarded in homebirth circles, who is OK with sexually assaulting you during one of the most stressful times of your life. /boggle

    • Momma M

      Is she asking for explicit consent to touch the clitoris? Would a doula stop her if not? Doubtful.

      • Antigonos CNM

        What clitoral massage has to do with facilitating birth or relieving pain from contractions I cannot imagine. The much-loved [by "traditional" midwives] techniques of “ironing” the perineum, or using hot packs to relax it, or oils to lubricate it, have all been shown to [1] not significantly lower laceration rates, and [2] can actually increase bleeding and/or complicate healing [baby -- or any other -- oil in the stitched area can result in abcesses and infections]

  • Guesteleh

    Wow, great punchline! I was truly shocked when I saw Ina May’s name at the end.

  • lucy logan

    ewwwwwwwwwwww

  • yentavegan

    Too gross for words. It is not just the foul language, it is the inappropriate touching.

  • KumquatWriter

    Ugh, recognized the author from the pictured quote. You forgot to add buttbones tho.

  • slandy09

    Oh hay-ull no!

    #1 If anyone (including my husband) tried to touch me like that while I was in labor, I’d kill them.

    #2 Of all people, a supposed professional should NOT be using vulgarities to describe female body parts.

    #3 This woman should be arrested. She is sexually abusing women in labor.

    Ew ew ew!

    • slandy09

      And to think, my SIL LIKES this book. Ugh!!!!

  • Wren

    Wow. This isn’t birth rape?

    And am I the only one who finds “taint” to be the worst word for this ever? I’d prefer any other word to taint.

    • staceyjw

      Yes, totally disgusting. It is the type of word I would expect from Howard Stern or another foul mouthed shock jock or comedian (not comedienne!). Never from a MW.

      Even if the sexual touching was requested (which I doubt), you don’t use such foul language.

  • Florence

    Sex is normal, sex is natural, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Now this being said, a midwife touching your clitoris in a clear and direct sexual manner…that is just beyong bizarre. What is up with hazing the husband to feel his wife breast….if he doesn’t feel like it why making him do it…? if a couple desire to engage in a sexual intercourse during labor that is their own prerogative , but the midwife has no role in this, it isn’t her place… And to anyone who would argue it is… We a then talking about a fetish.

    • Florence

      And the potty mouth doesn’t offend me, what is offensive is that it comes from a care provider while talking about women under her care,that is offensive!

      • KumquatWriter

        THIS. I don’t mind the vulgarities – among friends or lovers, onstage or onscreen. But from my healthcare provider? WRONG.

        • staceyjw

          Thats the issue here- she doesn’t see herself as a HCP, but as a “spiritual guide”, or what the hell ever. She is a CULT leaders WIFE, so I am in no way shocked.
          To go and promote this for HCPs is beyond disgusting.

          I wonder how many women felt raped by her? But couldn’t say anything because of the cult or the fact that she is famous for MWery?

          TOTAL exploitation, and exactly what these so called MWs claim OBs do with the pushy paternalism. But NO WAY would my OB ever say this stuff in a professional manner, or probably at all, at least to a patient.

          (and I could care less about vulgarities among friends, lovers, etc. Just not HCPs)

          • Dr Kitty

            I probably don’t read the right stuff, but I haven’t. One across many glowing testimonials from IMG’s own patients.
            Maybe this is why.

          • Antigonos CNM

            I expect that a goodly number of her patients felt uncomfortable, but rationalized that THEY had a problem, not Ina May.

          • Amy H

            The emperor has no clothes – but who could bring themselves to say it. So it’s easier to go along with the crowd.

            “Regular” sexual assault (pardon the expression, but what we’re talking about who goes beyond the pale) is unlikely to be reported. Try going to the police and explaining, your midwife did what?

  • MaineJen

    …That is *disgusting.* That woman creeps me out. That is a serious violation of a woman who is in a vulnerable state (labor).

  • Squillo

    I wonder why my oral surgeon doesn’t practice this kind of “spiritual dentistry” with his root canal patients?

    • GuestB

      There’s not enough dirty words in dentistry to make it work.

      • Squillo

        And I guess it would be hard to reach a woman’s button. He could still grab her tits, though. Or just have the dental assistant do it. But she’s not my type.

        • KumquatWriter

          I would like to make a reference to Deep Throat here. It seems appropriate.

          • Squillo

            Please don’t ruin oral sex for the rest of us.

    • Lindsay Beyerstein

      I had a dentist of the Ina May school. I came in for my first visit, and as soon as he had his hands in my mouth he started asking rhetorical questions like “Why does unprotected sex with a random attractive individual feel so much better than monogamy?” At least he only touched my teeth, and only in dentist-appropriate ways, but I was totally grossed out and never went back.

      • Squillo

        Eww.

        I actually find someone putting his or her hands in my mouth squickier than having a pelvic exam, so that would have sent me screaming for the door.

      • realityycheque

        WOW… what a weirdo! That is extremely inappropriate.

  • I don’t have a creative name

    If some wrinkled old broad with dog mange on her head who bore a terrifying resemblance to Skeletor was fondling my boobs and saying how nice they were, she’d be getting a roundhouse kick in the face. Just… yuck.

    And I can’t believe these idiot women WANT to be talked to in that way. The professional detachment I’ve heard from my OB’s has helped with some of the difficulty in allowing others into such personal moments and areas. “We need to find out why you’re bleeding during this pregnancy, so I’m going to take a look inside. Okay, so I see your cervix and….” Compared to, “I’m going to shove my hand up your twat and feel around your cunt.” She is just disgusting and unprofessional. And don’t forget heartless and soulless, as she thought it would be better to let her 32 weeker struggle to death alone, rather than get him medical help that, in the 70′s, would’ve given him a decent shot at life. The fact that anyone looks to her for ANYTHING dealing with birth and pregnancy just boggles the mind.

    • Captain Obvious

      On call the other night, a woman came into L&D at 32 weeks with PPROM. And a previous cesarean to boot. I stabilized her and transferred her to the major medical center. That baby will survive. I would like Ina May to comment on this.

      • Antigonos CNM

        “What a burden of guilt you will have to carry all your life for not letting nature take its course”. Obviously.

  • Jenna

    Is there some way on this blog for others to post the wacky stuff they come across? There is a Facebook page called “I Love My Large Family” (which I do!) that has a lot of woo supporters. https://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/largefamilies/posts/10151634132731904

  • Gretta

    Uhm….. Wait a second….. What is birth rape again?! ?!

  • Jenna

    Well done, Dr. Amy! The quotes were horrifying but the kicker, which you wisely saved for last, was who said them! I mean, I knew she was nuts but I had no idea…

  • carovee

    so I touch them, get in there and squeeze them, talk about how nice they are, and make him welcome.

    I don’t even… what is this? Is the husband supposed to be feeling up his wife during labor? Why is she talking about how nice they are? If my CNM had done any of this I would be meeting with the head of Obstetrics.

    • Ibanezsrx

      Reading this was all kinds of cringe. The wording shows obvious immaturity which is annoying.

      But seriously, isn’t that behavior a felony?

    • areawomanpdx

      Ya, what if the woman doesn’t want her husband to feel welcome to grab her breasts during labor? Apparently Ina May doesn’t care!

    • Captain Obvious

      All it takes is for one woman or one husband to file a complaint. Others will follow. Catholic priests, Jerry Sandusky, Ina May.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Yabut, who is going to do that? The only people who use the services of folks like Ina May are those who steeped in the lunacy. And, like any good abuser, she’ll convince them that they are the ones in the wrong if they find it inappropriate.

      • LIsa from NY

        If the woman posts it on an NCB blog, it will be deleted.

        If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there…

  • Lisa Herrman

    Glah! Pass the brain bleach. OT: have you guys already seen this one:

    http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2013/06/06/3776327.htm

    • Jocelyn

      “The mistake that we made was that we underestimated the diseases and we totally over-estimated the adverse reactions.” – What a great quote from the father. I think this sums up the anti-vax movement in a nutshell.

      • KarenJJ

        Yeah that sounds about right. I’m on a forum with people with auto-inflammatory diseases. Collectively we show some pretty amazing adverse reactions to vaccinations as they can cause a flare in auto-inflammatory symptoms (and it is something that my immunologists discussed with me). That said, even with the flare in symptoms, vaccination is still recommended as the diseases can cause enough long term issues without adding some of these serious illnesses into the mix.

  • Victoria

    I found it very difficult to communicate or advocate for myself while in labour. If someone had done this to me while I was in that state I would not have been able to defend myself and the effects of that would have been long lasting and far reaching in very very negative ways. A woman who did not have sexual assault/rape in her past would likely feel violated and a woman with sexual assault/rape in her past would feel re-traumatised. How can anyone think this woman is worth listening to?

    • Lisa Herrman

      I fully agree. The CNM I had was little more than a hack (thank God she doesn’t practice anymore) and with the suffering I went through at her suggestion I think I would have been unable to defend myself either. I really bought into what she said. This was in the hospital, mind you, but I was moronically set on natural childbirth. Her OB backup came in to see me after the birth and said he never would have let me go like she did. 13 years later I wonder still if the outcome would have been different for my son if I had gone for section.

  • OttawaAlison

    Holy macaroni – I felt very uncomfortable just reading that. Reason 89643 I would never give birth on ‘The Farm’. I honestly thought it was a 28 year old birth junkie writing that.

  • Squillo

    Now change it around and make it a male OB. See how venerated he would be in natural birth circles.

  • Durango

    If either my midwife or my OB had intentionally touched my clitoris or breasts I would have felt violated. This woman has no boundaries. Yet another reason why she is no professional.

  • melisaholloman

    Words escape me….

    • melisaholloman

      Birth rape, maybe?

      • CourtneyTX

        That is what my thought was. Talk about birth rape!

        She goes there, she makes it sexual and weird.

  • Laura

    NOOOOOOO!!!!!! I would not hire this sexual predator masquerading as a “health care professional.” You mentioned this was written in the 3rd and 4th editions. Are these same quotes in the most current edition? Has anyone in her own community of midwives called her out on these quotes? Has she ever publicly responded to appropriate criticism of these practices she apparently engages in? Wow – talk about boundary crossing. You can help a mom to relax without fondling her genitals when she is vulnerable and trusting. Ew -just too disgusting for words.

    • Karen in SC

      Amazon lists the 4th edition (2002) for sale – just did a search.

      • Laura

        So, the 4th edition is the latest then? Ugh….

      • Amy H

        Yeah, me too… Added a whole new element of bravery though to view inside the book and click “Surprise me!”

        • Amy H

          Oh my lands, it brought up THE SAME PAGE. pp. 7-8 where she explains why it’s ok to use those words.

  • Eskimo

    50 Shades of Cray.

    • attitude devant

      Eskimo, FTW!!!!

      • KumquatWriter

        +1

    • Captain Obvious

      Anybody know how to contact the writers for Law and Order SVU? “Ripped from the headlines”. I see this topic making for a good episode. I see this potential episode to be an eye opener for her followers.

  • Are you nuts

    I’m sitting here in my office by myself, blushing. Now I’m laughing because I’m trying to picture what my husband would do if some crazy old bat started grabbing at my bare chest.

  • quadrophenic

    Eww eww eww. I interned at the sexual assault unit at the DA’s office in law school. Combine these words with a male OB and they would throw the book at him. Yet it’s somehow ok for some mangy high school educated hippy to say it?

  • Adelaide GP

    Maybe it’s the foreplay to the “orgasmic birth ” experience? But honestly, Boundary violation doesn’t even come close to describing that disturbing advice. What a creep.

  • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

    Wow. Can you imagine if other HCPs talked like this?

    Urologist: wipe your wang and then piss into this cup.
    Gastroenterologist: please stick your ass in the air and spread those cheeks; I need to finger your asshole for a bit.
    ER doctor: have you been puking your guts out or experiencing explosive liquid shits?

    I could go on, but I’d better not.

    • auntbea

      This made me laugh because I am apparently a nine-year-old boy.

    • PoopDoc

      I have used words like pee, poop, barf to my patients. Kids don’t always know the terms like urine, bowel movement, vomit… I’ve been known to say “I need to look at your butt”. But using the more vulgar terminology? Never.

      • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

        I know some LCs will take their cue from the mother and use “boobs” if the mother refers to her breasts that way. I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that though. A professional needs to act professional.

      • lucy logan

        this made me laugh though.

      • Gene

        Same here. “Does it hurt when you go pee pee?” or a much better question to a six year old than asking, “Do you experience dysuria?”

        But to an adult woman? That is just all kinds of inappropriate!

  • http://www.europeanmama.eu/ Olga Mecking

    Say what? I read the book (why, just why???) and only now did I understand that it doesn’t make sense in the birth setting. She’s crossing boundaries here… And, to asnwer your question, no I wouldn’t.

  • Nicole

    And, yet, a hospital/OB-GYN birth is often termed: “birth rape” by many a birth extremist. It sounds like Ina May Gaskin is now, even more so, every bit the disrespectful control freak narcissist that I’ve always thought her to be. Bringing Woodstock and free love to her exploitative birth farm. Disgusting.

  • ArmyChick

    I think I am at a loss for words. And I thought I had heard it all from the NCB crowd…

  • Karen

    If male OB did any of that, or said any of that, or a hospital based, registered midwife, or nurse, there would be an outcry! Hell to the no, would I hire a midwife like that, if it was the last midwife on earth….

  • KarenJJ

    “doing whatever seems most necessary”?

    Umm.. none of that is necessary..

  • attitude devant

    Holy expletive. My mouth is permanently hanging open.

    • Captain Obvious

      I have not read Ina’s books. I cannot believe this is actually in her books. I cannot believe this has not been posted sooner than this. I cannot believe followers have read this and are okay with this. I cannot that Ina has not been reported for this and charged and sanctioned for this.