Oh, Ina May... If you only pick up this book to flip through and look at all the photos of laboring hippies, do it. Even after four editions of the book, she still talks about feeling telepathic with all laboring mothers ever, how childbirth is so heavy, and uses her own terminology, such as "butt-hole" for anus, "taint" for perineum -- because "'taint what's above and 'taint what's below", or "cootchie" (what is that?). Spiritual Midwifery will teach you how to be a midwife in the astral sense of the word, using your inner peace to deliver the baby not only in the physical plane but energetically as well.
As with Ina May's Guide to Childbirth (see my review), the first half of Spiritual Midwifery is birth stories, including the story of Ina May's own tragic first birth. This section of the book is a history lesson on how The Farm came into being and how the hundreds of people traveled across the country in school busses, birthing babies along the way and picking up the knowledge they would need to become the birthing community they are today. Some birth stories are long, some are short; some end beautifully while others end tragically. All are inspirational.
The second half of Spiritual Midwifery focuses on the medical side of giving birth: how to conduct prenatal exams, how to turn a breech baby, how to sew up a tear, how to revive an asphyxiated baby, and so on. The figures are numerous and informative. After reading Ina May's descriptions, I feel intimately familiar with the procedures that go on in a delivery room.
Ina May has shared with me natural birth as it is meant to happen, introduced me to many unlikely complications for moms and their fetuses (and what is normally done about it), and has given an in-depth, heartfelt tour of the midwife's maternity and birthing room.