Sunday, 11 December 2011

Right Livelihood Award: Ina May Gaskin

The world's premier award for personal courage and social transformation, The Right Livelihood Award honours and supports those "offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today".

The wonderful Ina May Gaskin, affectionately referred to as 'the mother of midwifery', was awarded the Right Livelihood Award this year for:
“… for her whole-life’s work teaching and advocating safe, woman-centred childbirth methods that best promote the physical and mental health of mother and child.“
Ina May's acceptance speech is sobering as she carefully catalogues the abuses that have been and continue to be perpetrated against women and their babies in the name of industrialised birth; inspirational as she talks about the brave and loving doctors who have acted in the face of repression and vilification from their less than women centred peers and seek to scare women into submission to the medical juggernaut...

"We must wake up to the fact that it is easy to scare women about their bodies, especially in countries in which midwives have little or no power in policy-making, relative to physicians and the influence of large corporate entities. This takes no real talent. Given such imbalance, fear, ignorance, and greed begin to reinforce each other, and rates of unnecessary intervention soar, with women and the babies suffering the consequences"

Ina May's speech is heart warming as she asks the Hungarian Goverment to release Agnes Gereb, a Hungarian doctor who supported women to birth at home and encouraging as she offers a vision of a better world through optimising midwifery care and supporting women's choices ...

Another site came across my computer screen this morning, and given the content is highly relevant to the content of Ina May's speech, I thought it was entirely appropriate to link it here.

I'm not sure why the midwife broke the sac on this breech baby as she was born, I would have thought it was better left alone to provide that lovely buffer that intact membranes offer.  Even so, I'm grateful to the woman and her family and to the midwives for sharing this delightful photo journey. The explanatory notes are very useful.

Ina May's book Spiritual Midwifery, together with Frederick Leboyer's Birth Without Violence, changed my world when they were released in 1976.  I first heard Ina May speak at a preconfernce workshop at the 1992 Homebirth Conference in Sydney.   I was so emotional on being in the presence of Ina May, that I spent most of the workshop in tears - her passion and 'right thinking' about women and birth still has that effect on me as I watch and listen to her speech accepting her Right Livelihood award.  Thank you Ina May for all you have done and are doing for Women and Birth and Midwifery.  Congratulations on receiving this prestigious award. You certainly deserve it.

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