Ina May's blog tells us that:
"LONDON—Ina May Gaskin, of Summertown, Tennessee, was awarded the title “Honorary Doctor” by the Thames Valley University, London, England, on November 24, 2009. The award was presented by the faculty of the Health and Human Sciences division of the University in recognition of her work in demonstrating through midwifery and natural childbirth that women’s bodies still work as they were designed. Gaskin accepted the award in the Grand Auditorium of Wembley Stadium before an audience of 600.
Gaskin, who will turn 70 in March, thanked her mother for not scaring her about childbirth; Dr. Grantly Dick-Read (author of the classic Childbirth Without Fear); her high school biology teacher for teaching her to keep an open mind; her husband, Stephen Gaskin, for allowing 270 young people to accompany him on a lecture tour in the winter of 1970-71; and several physicians for mentoring her during the early years of her career as midwife.
Gaskin also thanked “the little Capuchin monkey who, in 1970, held my hand with an electrifying touch, thereby teaching me in an instant that I could also have touch that powerful if I lived as much in the moment as she did.”
I came across Spiritual Midwifery when it was released in the 70's. I can't remember how I found out about the book. But I do remember how much the book affected me and my practice. I adored the book and was radicalised by the ideas in it. I carried it everywhere. In the early 80's, I was working on night duty as the relief night manager in a maternity unit. I left the book on the labour ward desk when I did a 'round' of the wards. One of the older obstetricians, known for his difficult and pedantic manner, passed me with his nose deliberately 'up in the air' and said, glancing at me with a twinkle in his eyes "I'm off to do a spiritual caesarean!". I knew he'd been reading my book in the labour ward. I thought to myself that could only be a good thing.
I loved Ina May's gentle loving approach to women and birth. I loved the common sense, practical way she worked with women and incorporated men into the birthing process. Ina May has been the shining light for keeping birth normal and helping midwives to reclaim their place with women. The stories of the Farm midwives and the women's experiences of birth fueled my desire to work one on one with women. I credit Ina May with being a big reason why I finally took the plunge into private midwifery practice with Maralyn Fourer (ex Rowley), together gaining visiting rights in public hospitals at a time when midwives didn't do such a thing. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is another classic and I find that women today really value this book for the calm, sensible, affirmative approach it takes.
Sincere congratulations to Ina May for her forward thinking, beautifully expressed, deeply held trust in women and their birthing process. You are a legend and you deserve this honour. Thanks for being my mentor (even though you don't know you were/are).