Thursday, July 21, 2011

The unlikely connection between Ani DiFranco, a midwife's manifesta and the Indy

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Salon called Ina May Gaskin "the midwife of modern midwifery." Ricki Lake calls Gaskin "my inspiration and my hero," while Naomi Wolf refers to her as "an American treasure." Ani DiFranco believes Gaskin's writing should be considered among "the great philosophical contributions of our time." In fact, that's what she wrote in the foreword to Gaskin's latest book, Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta.

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So, how on earth did the Indy end up in the same book?

Back in 2005, I wrote a cover story titled "Let your monkey do it." It's a first-person account of how my wife and I decided to have our first child born at home, with more than a little information on the history of natural birth, the birth choices in Missoula, and the misconceptions, in general, about childbirth. The story's lead, and title, came from a story our midwife, Sandhano Danison, relayed about Gaskin, Mormon nurses in Idaho, and, of course, monkeys.

Long story short, Gaskin liked the piece and we've traded a few emails since it was published. Last year, out of the blue, she asked to reprint a part of it in her next book. Considering my wife talks about Gaskin in the same ways as Lake, Wolf and DiFranco, and at least three of her books are on our bookshelf, it was an easy answer.

Now, a good portion of "Let your monkey do it" fills Chapter 7 of Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta. The chapter is titled "What's a father-to-be to do."

You can read the original cover story online, but I suggest picking up a copy of Gaskin's work. Not because I get anything from it, but because her new book covers much more than some scared father's recollections of helping his wife give birth in the living room. The book "reminds us that the ways in which women experience birth have implications for all of us" and, as Time magazine put it, Gaskin explains why "America needs midwives more than ever."

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