Editorial: Enlisting Change Around the World
by Jan Tritten

[Editor's note: This editorial first appeared in Midwifery Today Issue 65, Spring 2003.]

The Netherlands conference photoSince founding Midwifery Today magazine in 1986, I have had an interest in international midwifery. I have always had the feeling that the keys to helping and understanding the birth process would be found all over this marvelous globe with its many cultures. As I began to meet midwives from many different places at international conferences and at our own conferences, this seed of an idea proved to be overwhelmingly true. We are not alone in our efforts to solve problems, whether they involve individual births or the huge political, social and health issues that have occurred with the medicalization of childbirth. I believe it is through learning from midwives from around the world that we will find our own solutions. This is the case whether we are concerned with an individual birth, a practice or birth change in our own country.

I have had the privilege of seeing change occur because of what people have learned and exchanged at our conferences and through other international networking. What immediately comes to mind is what we have learned from midwives from Mexico as we started planning a conference there that honors them and their traditions. They have an exquisite and long history of using ancient techniques and natural medicines to help women. We will do ourselves a favor by learning from them. Exchange is always the best way to learn because you give as you receive, benefiting both parties. My midwife friends from Israel have been coming to our conferences for many years. They took the information they gleaned from the conferences and have begun making significant changes in their country. It is always so heartening for Midwifery Today staff and teachers to hear these kinds of reports in a world where so much of what we hear is negative. The midwives in Japan were so moved by the conference held there—and the affirmation of their ideas about birth—that many were crying when it ended. They did not want it to be over. I have so many examples of such rich exchange that it keeps me doing this work.

To help us make changes, we need to enlist the help of midwives from everywhere who are doing what they can in their communities, as we are doing in ours. At Midwifery Today conferences, we make every effort to bring together ideas from around the world that might work in our individual communities or with the women we serve. My feeling from the recent Netherlands conference, where midwives from 28 different countries attended, is that the exchange spread seeds of change all over the world. This year, we have conferences in Eugene, Oregon, London, Paris and Mexico. I hope you will join us for some life-changing exchange. [Editor's Note: For information about current upcoming conferences, visit upcoming conferences.]

These encouraging examples from around the world make me want to expand the international part of what we do at Midwifery Today. We are again trying to get country contacts for all possible locations. Country contacts are individuals in each country who let us know what is going on in their particular part of the world. They act as a contact point for women wanting information or looking for a midwife and let their country's midwives know about Midwifery Today's activities. We have already helped many midwives in their efforts to make contact with other midwives from different countries. Sometimes, we have been able to help pregnant women find a midwife through networking with our country contact. Please let your international midwife friends know we need contacts. If you have any leads or are interested, e-mail me at jan@midwiferytoday.com.

The International Alliance of Midwives (IAM) is an international online network that we sponsor. It is designed to help you connect with midwives or other birth practitioners around the world, to make friendships and glean knowledge and insights. We hope it will be an important organization for promoting authentic midwifery everywhere and another place where seeds of positive change are planted. Please join us by going to www.midwiferytoday.com/iam/. For a nominal fee you will receive the IAM quarterly newsletter, access to the directory and will find a great way to network.

These are just a few of Midwifery Today's international projects that are working for birth change. I love Jeannie Parvati Baker's idea that we will "Heal the earth by healing birth." I hope you will join us in this noble and much-needed plan. You are part of the solution and part of the healing.

Start changing the world…one birth at a time.

Toward Better Birth,

Jan Tritten

Jan Tritten is the founder and editor-in-chief of Midwifery Today magazine and a midwife who was in active practice from 1977 to 1989. She became a midwife in 1977 after the powerful homebirth of one of her daughters. Her mission is to make loving midwifery care the norm for birthing women and their babies throughout the world. Meet Jan at our conferences around the world! [ PHOTO BY ANDREA NOLL ]

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