Women Who Inspire Us: Ina May Gaskin

"Whenever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life," wrote Ina May Gaskin, certified professional midwife. 

In honor of National Midwifery Week (October 1-7), Ina May Gaskin, who has been called the mother of modern midwifery, is our inspiration this month. 

Founder of the Farm Midwifery Center in Tennessee in 1971, Gaskin has attended more than 1200 births in her years as a midwife. While her focus on direct-entry (non-medically trained) midwifery is controversial, we still have much to admire her for. 

Gaskin is credited with introducing in the United States a low-intervention method for handling shoulder dystocia –when a baby's head is born, but a shoulder remains trapped behind the pelvic bone. The method, called the Gaskin maneuver, was the first obstetrical procedure to be named for a midwife. 

A tireless advocate for minimizing interventions and involving families in the birth process, Gaskin has lectured all over the world to medical professionals and students. She has authored four books, including Spiritual Midwifery and Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta.  

Gaskin is a former President of the Midwives' Alliance of North America and was a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize) in 2011.