One thing I know to be true, not just from theoretical dogma but from my personal
lived experience and observation, is that ALL MOTHERS LOVE THEIR CHILDREN.
What does this mean for us now? Why is this important? I have two answers I
would put forth:
1) It is the quality of unconditional love and nurturance that are important
during these times to guide us in grounding our faith and in informing our actions.
2) The fact that this is a universal characteristic of all human cultures, we
connect to the Whole in a way that is felt personally, and this allows for true
empathy, connectedness and evolutionary interrelatedness.
What each mother wants for her children is common in every culture throughout
history. Connecting to this allows us to understand with mind (wisdom) and heart
(compassion). All mothers want everything from the most basic of their children's
needs met, from such biological needs as healthy food, pure water and clean air
to the most transcendental needs so that their children can fulfill all their
potential. In between, we want our children to have healthy self-esteem, educational
opportunities that help them develop and give them skills to function in the world,
beauty and harmony in their surroundings, companionship and community, a relationship
with the Divine that guides their lives--in short, healthy bodies, minds, feelings
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with
His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer's
hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also
the bow that is stable." -Kahlil Gibran
Somehow, we want our children to go beyond where we ourselves have gone and
are willing to be the instruments for that to happen.
In this time of uncertainty and fear, let us reconnect to what is very basic
and personal, feeling inspired by the truth we have lived by being mothers, daughters
of mothers, and mothers of mothers, to act from this truth born of unconditional
love and to love unconditionally. Violence begets violence and comes from fear.
That is not the world mothers would want for their children.
I write this to my sisterhood, the midwives, who have a special resonance with
mothers and mothering. Yesterday when I was meditating for a friend, I heard a
voice say to me again and again, "All women love their children." I
wanted to share this message with all of you in the hope that it will comfort
you and guide you through this dark time.
- Patricia Kay
As any midwife knows, women are amazing--tolerating days of childbirth, cracked
infected nipples, and potential for 18 or so years of limited income, just to
provide for her offspring. I only wish that it was a woman deciding the future
of the planet instead of the two powerful men.
- Trudie-Anne Clee
Perth, Western Australia
To paraphrase the Buddha, "The remedy for hatred is not hatred; the remedy is love."
- Liz Nightingale, British midwife
I am sitting here in Prizren, Kosova, in the middle of thousands of Albanian
Muslims who deplore this act of violence. They remind me that this act is not
in line with the teachings of the Koran. They grieve with us all from the US.
I hope others remember that not all Muslims habor anti-US sentiment and that we
keep our minds and hearts open to the love that humanity can offer. It is here,
where women expect to be treated in a way that the Western world would find unacceptable
that I have received an outpouring of love and condolences for our country and
- Elenie Smith
The following is adapted from Everything I Know, I Learned from a Doula:
What I've Learned from Tragedy
Be still and know that being gentle is to be strong; compassion; acceptance; the
power of presence; the power of prayer; patience, the right thing will be done!
Humility; Americans will find their own way! To be quiet; We never stop learning;
not to judge; the purity and joy of giving; spirituality; to be culturally sensitive;
the blessing and honour of being there for those who need you; even in conflict
there is support; it's OK to cry; the darkest hours give birth to heroes; and
every birth is a new beginning. To do the work of a hero is to know the heart
of one; trust yourself, trust in God, trust in our leaders; care for yourself
so that you can care for others.
People who are well fed, have good healthcare, whose children are being educated,
well housed and have pure water and working sewage systems do not usually conspire
to commit terrible acts of unprovoked violence. You do not get Pacific Islanders
and other people from sharing and caring cultures being influenced by religious
fanatics to bomb and kill innocent people.
We must share the wealth. Last year a study put out by the United Nations estimated
that if 240 of the richest people in the world tithed just 4% of their surplus
wealth, it would be sufficient to supply everyone on this planet with the technology,
expertise and equipment to create the basic necessities of life for themselves.
We need a Marshall Plan for the Middle East and other destitute countries to
deal with the core of the problem. Such help would also require that receiving
countries would have to provide civil and reproductive rights for women. In the
long run, apart from being a more loving and humane way of helping our fellow
man, it will also be less expensive than having to defend ourselves, attack our
enemies, and rebuild our cities.
- Rayner Garner
I am a student of midwifery just beginning an apprenticeship at a hospital in
Maine. My first birth at this site was the day after the tragic events in NY,
DC and PA. It was such a gift to have true tears of joy in the midst of tears
of sorrow. Watching this couple work their way through the challenge of a natural
birth and emerging with strength and the gift of a beautiful daughter showed me
that life indeed goes on and that hope springs eternal. As midwives, we are given
the gift of witnessing miracles on a regular basis, and sharing these stories
of strength may help us make sense of the recent losses we have all suffered.
As the privileged in this world, our work toward birthing and raising the next
generation consciously and carefully is an essential gift we must give. May we
all be peacemakers.
My condolences are with you all, especially to those colleagues who have lost
friends and family members in this tragedy. This comes from an isolated area of the UAE where we are bringing new lives into a world so violent. We cannot show
fear here. All our women are covered, Arabic speaking and are so gentle. I ask
all midwives to pray for ours and the surrounding countries that peace and not
war bring unity to all people.
- Marie Perry
There is always hope, the hope that this terror will make us understand that
we are ALL ONE FAMILY WITHOUT EXCLUSION. [Even the terrorists are part of our
family.] Let us look for solutions that do not bring more grief and desperation
and destruction; let us look at the roots of our own violence, as it is the same
violence that asks for war and revenge and destruction. If we only look at the
violence of others but ignore our own we will never be able to live the love that
unites us all and will bring us peace.
Midwives work for peace, in ourselves, and in the families we serve. Let us
all make peace our main goal, every day and moment of our life. May all we create
be in the name of peace and reverence for life. May Spirit help us to do so. For
this we pray and in this we trust.
I offer my prayers, my love and my tears to all that suffer.
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Question(s) of the Quarter for Midwifery Today Issue 60
What are strengths and weaknesses of your path to becoming a midwife? How does
the current controversy over the various pathways to becoming a midwife affect
your practice or your hopes for a practice? Do you have any specific thoughts
about midwifery education?
Please submit your response by September 30, 2001 to email@example.com
Selected responses will be published in our print magazine in the December issue. Please include your full name, occupation and city/state/country.
Midwifery Today's Online Forum
What bells go off when you hear a client talk about an unassisted childbirth?
How do you present the facts without your opinion? Where do you draw the line
supporting a woman's birthing plan? I mean with an unassisted childbirth they
(the client) will have none other than the partner to help support their desires
or deliver the baby. What if it goes bad, who do you think they will be looking
to blame? The doula who helped them plan the birth? I have more than just the
title doula to think about--I have a license (nursing) that could be used against
me in this situation as an educator.
TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND EXPERIENCE ON THIS TOPIC CLICK HERE
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Question of the Week
I am 30 weeks pregnant with my second child. Breastfeeding was tremendously
difficult for me with my first child because I have extra large breasts and extremely
flat nipples. My daughter was not able to latch on to the right breast (it's even
bigger than the left one) and rarely latched on the left. I used pumps and syringes
to bring the nipple out but the nipple never stayed extended long enough for an
effective latch on. I very much want to breastfeed this baby. Does anyone have
Send your responses to:
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and Web site visitors. Click here for the virtual Holiday Pack we've created for you. We hope you have
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Question of the Week Responses
Q: I am the midwife of a woman who had twins 16 months
ago in a home delivery with no problems. She had some varicose veins while carrying
the twins. She had a 12-month-old baby when the twins were born and is currently
34 weeks pregnant with another. That is four babies in less than three years.
In the last 12 months she has developed significant varicose veins that start
in her feet and go up her leg to the perineum and into the labia internally. The
veins are larger than a large thumb. What is the danger of a varicose vein bursting
while in labor? If one does burst, what are possible procedures to follow to stop
During this pregnancy she has been faithfully using horse chestnut, butcher's
broom, hesperidan, bioflavoniods, vitamins, a good diet, and super food supplement,
but she has done nothing topically and is not much of an exerciser. Also, are
there upper body-only aerobic programs? One will be needed after this pregnancy.
A: None of my moms ever experienced any complications with their varicose
veins. None used herbs or homeopathics but all wore some type of compression stockings
to alleviate soreness in their legs and (hopefully) prevent clots developing.
That was always my worst fear because I've known women who developed clots during
their pregnancies, one even had a clot that traveled to her ear. At birthing time,
I always had a plan to apply ice compresses to the vulva if a vein ruptured. I
always use ice compresses in the first 12-24 hours after birthing, anyway.
A: Varicose veins are a symptom of poor circulation and as such can indicate
risk for thrombosis and other circulatory dysfunction. Several things may help.
1. A lifting pregnancy belt such as the Prenatal Cradle or BabyHugger(tm) may
help improve pelvic circulation.
2. If she's not going to get her blood moving through exercise, at the very
least she should spend a lot of time with her feet up, and if her bottom is affected,
she should do something to make sure she's not restricting pelvic circulation
at the same time.
3. Water immersion will help improve her circulation. I'm not talking about
a bath, I'm talking about getting into a swimming pool every day. She doesn't
have to exercise, she just has to get into water deep enough that she floats a
4. Left-sided lying positions are best for circulation--if her legs can be elevated
slightly in this position, that would be ideal.
5. Nutritional treatment is a must with that many babies that close together.
She desperately needs as much cell-building nutrition as she can get--supplementation
with vitamin E, vitamin C, good protein, fatty acids, etc. Herbs that promote
vein health are a must.
6. To prevent abnormal clotting and help blood flow more easily, consider adding
garlic, ginger and purple 100% grape juice to her diet. Alfalfa may help normalize.
I grate fresh garlic or ginger onto rice, and the dosage of grape juice should
be about 6 oz twice a day. White grape juice is not acceptable, and fresh grapes
are not the same (when grape juice is made, the seeds are crushed with the fruit,
adding to the medicinal properties.)
- Jennifer Rosenberg, doula, CBE
Know a strong woman? Helping empower one? If you haven't already done so, please
forward this issue of Midwifery Today E-News to one or two of your friends or
business associates. Thanks so much!
Any MT readers out there in the Mill Valley and Tahoe, California areas interested
in reviewing this film? E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Inspired by true stories, SINGING THE BONES enlivens debate surrounding a woman's
right to control her own destiny and see the birth of a child as a personal, rather
than institutional, event. It is the story of three women whose lives are transformed
by a mother's decision to take on a difficult and complex birth. The film stars
Caitlin Hicks (IT, THE BLACK STALLION) as she takes her virtuoso stage performance
to the screen.
SINGING THE BONES will screen in Mill Valley at The Rafael Film Center on Saturday,
October 6th at 7 PM and Sunday, October 7th, 9:45 PM, Sunday at 1118 4th Street,
San Rafael, California. For tickets or more information in Mill Valley, phone
(416) 383-5256, or visit their website at www.mvff.com.
BONES screens @ TAHOE, on Friday, September 28th at 9 PM,
and Sunday, September 30th at 6:30 PM at the Resort at Squaw Creek,
Phone (530) 583-FEST, or visit www.tahoefilmfestival.org
For more information about SINGING THE BONES, please visit:
In response to the Scottish midwife interested in using volunteers in maternity
Why not arrange a doula training for these volunteers? A quick review of the
original studies that resulted in the oft-quoted improved outcomes for the birthing
families show that they were accomplished by community women who accompanied laboring
women in the hospital.
Before I started my midwifery education I did some voluntary work with the WRVS
at my local maternity hospital. Basically I was a 'doorwoman' for the postnatal
wards. I would have a list of all postnatal women on the ward detailing whether
they wanted visitors or not (very handy in cases of abuse, etc.) and basically
check with the visitors who they were going to see, point them in the right direction,
stop them from going in too early and make sure they were all gone when time was
up. The midwifery staff felt this was a very valuable voluntary service.
The Klaus, Kennell, Klaus book "Mothering the Mother" reports that
having the constant presence of a doula with the laboring woman results in a decreased
length of labor (by 25%), decreased requests for pain medication (30 to 60%) and
decreased cesarean rate (50%). This book describes what you can and should expect
from a doula. DONA (Doulas of North America) are now training doulas from all
over the world--you might want to visit their website for more information: www.dona.com
As a doula with the birthing woman, I support the woman (and her partner) emotionally
and physically (using massage, relaxation techniques, hot and cold packs, aromatherapy,
music, acupressure, etc.) while offering my continuous presence regardless of
shift changes. I also assist the staff with personal, nonmedical chores such as
measuring intake and output, changing Chux pads, holding the emesis basin, keeping
mom clean and fresh while reminding her to change positions frequently, keep her
bladder empty and stay hydrated--basically "mothering the mother."
- Helen Moore, CD(DONA)
INTERNATIONAL MIDWIVES, please direct your questions, comments, and needs to
"International Connections." We're here to help you!
I am a doula with a client who has a double uterus--a left uterus and a right
uterus. She is pregnant with her first child and is due in mid October. Her doctor
has not said she is high-risk, just that there are risks. Does anyone know just
what those risks are? She is birthing in a hospital but wants as few interventions
as possible. We are planning to stay home as long as possible. She is very confident
and well informed about her ability to birth normally. I would feel much better
knowing something about this condition.
- Christine DiSabatino
I'm wondering about the treatment for a newborn who has contracted GBS disease.
How severe is GBS disease and at what point is it treatable?
I had read about sterile water papules for back labor but had never seen them
used, and basically was a chicken to try it on my own. I learned many other techniques
for relieving and turning an OP baby, but my success rate was variable. Then I
changed practices and one of the midwives there used the papules technique. Now
when I have a true back labor, true OP presentation, I explain it to the client
and obtain her verbal consent to use the technique. In the past 6-8 months that
I have used it I have found it to be almost foolproof. On one occasion the client
asked for medicinal pain relief saying it hadn't worked. I was a little surprised
because during a vaginal exam I had felt the baby move at least to the transverse
position. She seemed somewhat relieved, at least of the agonizing back labor.
As we had agreed, I went to get the nurse to give the medicine, came back in the
room to find her starting to grunt. Lo and behold the sweet child had turned and
she was 9 cm dilated and about a 0+1 station.
- Judy Butler, CNM
Thank you to all who responded to my call for advice. I've had some problems
with my email lately so I haven't been able to contact many of you who wrote to
me. I am still doing some serious thinking, feeling and reading, etc. about becoming
a midwife and would still love to get in contact with folks around the world about
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Midwifery Today: Each One Teach One!