Soon to be released in video and currently being shown in theaters around the county is a documentary about a former Marshalltown resident. "Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives" chronicles the midwifery life of the former Ina May Middleton, who worked as a receptionist for the Times Republican while attending Marshalltown Junior College in 1959 through 1961.
After spending two years in the Peace Corps and receiving a Master's Degree in English from Northern Illinois University, Gaskin moved on to San Francisco, Calif. A group of "hippies," disenchanted with city life set out on a caravan of old school buses and headed for a potential haven in the country. Among the group were a couple of pregnant women, and suddenly birth presented the group with a new dynamic.
Gaskin had studied birth, watched animals deliver and suddenly found her new passion in life. The film documents this journey, and shows a birth with the "Gaskin Maneuver," a position named for her for delivery of a shoulder dystocia birth. No babies were harmed in the production of the movie, but there are cheers from the movie audience with all of the potentially difficult deliveries.
Ina May Gaskin is pictured with her Right Livelihood Award in Stockholm, Sweden.
She believes birth to be a natural process, which all mammals manage well, except humans. We increasingly interfere and tell soon-to-be mothers that their bodies are not competent, and therefore, they must be drugged or cut open to have babies. Her famous line is, "Your body is not a lemon."
Gaskin has a number of awards to her credit. She has received an honorary Doctorate from the University of the Thames in London. In 2012, she was one of three recipients of the Right Livelihood Award, an alternative Nobel Prize, in Stockholm, Sweden. Along with the award, she received a 65,000 Euro grant to be used in her field. Two more awards have come her way this past month. She was named as one of the Fifty Most Important Women in Health Care in the United States by the Huffington Post, and in October she will be inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y., along with the late First Lady, Betty Ford, and the House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, and four others.