April 29, 2009
Volume 11, Issue 9
Midwifery Today E-News
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Watch women reclaim their power as bearers of life…

…when you watch Born in Water: A Sacred Journey. This DVD is a fantastic collection of seven waterbirths, including a home waterbirth, and shows women surrendering to the power of their labor and giving birth without intervention. Anyone with preconceived notions of waterbirth as risky will find that this DVD dispels those fears and misconceptions about this gentle way to give birth.
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Midwifery Today Conferences

Learn about the Traditions and Techniques of Mexican Midwifery

When you attend this class with Naolí Vinaver, you'll discover simple techniques that promote healthy pregnancy and birth—techniques that go back thousands of years. You will also learn how to use a rebozo, a very useful tool in all parts of the childbearing cycle. Time for hands-on practice will be provided. Part of our conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, May 2009.

Learn more about the Copenhagen conference and get a complete program.

Plan now to attend our conference in Philadelphia, April 2010

You'll find classes for seasoned midwives, childbirth educators, doulas and activists, and for those aspiring or just beginning in the birth field. Come to the conference to expand your knowledge and your network and to renew and rejuvenate your heart. Planned teachers include Ina May Gaskin, Marsden Wagner, Michel Odent and Elizabeth Davis.

View the main page for the Philadelphia 2010 conference. To be put on a list to receive a printed program by mail when they are ready, please e-mail admin@midwiferytoday.com with your name and postal address.

In This Week’s Issue:

Quote of the Week

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace."

Jimi Hendrix

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The Art of Midwifery

As midwives and birth practitioners we have the precarious but rewarding dance of helping without taking the power from the mother. Complications may change the process, but ultimately they shouldn't change the power that mom can do it/did it…let's always give the credit where it's due and make sure mom does, too.

If all is well, and it usually is, let's welcome the baby by being quiet and letting the motherbaby use the highest degree of oxytocin they'll have in their lives for what it was designed for—to greet and bond with each other. What an honor to be a midwife or doula or a sweet, loving doctor. We get to be there in the first moments of birth. How awesome is that?

Jan Tritten
Excerpted from "The Power Belongs to Motherbaby," Midwifery Today, Issue 87
View table of contents / Order the back issue

ALL BIRTH PRACTITIONERS: The techniques you've perfected over months and years of practice are valuable lessons for others to learn! Share them with E-News readers by sending them to mtensubmit@midwiferytoday.com.

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May 5: International Day of the Midwife

The World Needs Midwives Now More Than Ever

All around the world, the knowledge and skills of midwives have made important contributions to the health of the peoples they serve. Use this day to celebrate midwives and the safe, gentle births they promote. It's also a day to remember that all midwives must work together to change the world to be a better place for birth. Learn more.

Check out this blog entry about a 24-hour virtual event. On Facebook? Here's a Facebook group.


Women often are told that they "don't have enough amniotic fluid," so they have to have a c-section. This kind of thinking was recently challenged by a study by Johns Hopkins Hospital obstetricians. That study found no significant differences in the babies' birth weights, levels of acid in the umbilical cord blood or lengths of stay in the hospital. The babies were of normal size and had no other physical problems.

Previously the condition, called oligohydramnios, was believed to be associated with incomplete lung development, poor growth and delivery complications. Amniotic fluid is measured by depth in centimeters. Normal amounts range from 5–25 cm; any amount less than 5 cm is considered low.

www.hopkinsmedicine.org/press/2003/FEBRUARY/030207A.HTM, February 2003

Gloria Lemay wrote about this subject in "Suspect Diagnoses Come with Biophysical Profiling," in Midwifery Today, Issue 69, Spring 2004.
Read the article. Buy the back issue.

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Unresolved Power Issues in a Care Provider

The healthy caregiver, whether midwife or doctor, has resolved her childhood power issues. She acknowledges her client's vulnerability and works with her, empowering her to experience labor and birth for herself. She explains everything that is happening to the woman. The caregiver asks permission for every procedure she performs. She gives her client informed choices. If a woman asks, "What do you think I should do?" the caregiver may ask if the woman wants the midwife to decide for her or if she would just like some reassurance about her own decision.

The unhealthy caregiver has unresolved power issues from childhood. Voices in her head encourage low self-esteem and discourage risk-taking. She was not empowered as a child to make her own decisions. As an adult, she did not make the effort to empower herself. Therefore, she cannot empower other women. Empowerment is a threatening force for her, one she has chosen to avoid. This person will not question or challenge. She is unlikely to talk deeply with her client and risk discovering the limits of her abilities. To increase her own sense of security, she chooses to control others the way she feels controlled.

An example of this kind of control is a practitioner who thinks, "I know best," and fails to allow her client to make an informed choice. The practitioner then takes credit for a successful birth rather than giving the woman credit for her success. However, when there is a failure, the practitioner rarely takes the blame, but instead attributes it to "bad luck."

Why would a caregiver act this way? A child whose feelings have been discounted, ignored or rejected learns not to show them. This child is unlikely to raise her voice, cry in public or spontaneously jump for joy. In adulthood, the "child within" will seek to maintain an environment that will not risk creating emotions she does not know how to handle. Maintaining the status quo, such as having a ward full of women quietly laboring with epidural anesthesia, for example, gives her a sense of security.

Judy Slome Cohain
Excerpted from "Unresolved Power Issues in a Caregiver," Midwifery Today, Issue 42
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Web Site Update

Read this article excerpt from Midwifery Today recently posted to our Web site:
Keeping the Midwifery Legacy Alive—by Nell Tharpe

Read this review:
Mama's Milk—by Michael Elsohn Ross, illustrations by Ashley Wolff

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Question of the Week

Q: I have a friend who has endometriosis in her lungs. She has bled during her period for many years, (spit blood) from her lungs, and now after her second baby she finally did testing and discovered that it is endometriosis.

I hope to find her some solutions, hopefully alternative—a way to help her without filling her with drugs and hormones. We are from southern Chile, in South America. I would really appreciate some tips, or even better, the name of someone who knows how to heal or treat naturally (successfully) this ailment.

Thank you very much.

— Aiyana Gregori

SEND YOUR RESPONSE to mtensubmit@midwiferytoday.com with "Question of the Week" in the subject line. Please indicate the topic of discussion *and the E-News issue number* in the message.

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Question of the Week Responses

Q: I am writing from Indonesia, the country that got GMO soy first, to share what I am seeing, and to ask if you too are seeing the same. In 2008 Bumi Sehat Bali received 573 babies. We saw an increase in retained placentas. I also am seeing an increase in velamentous cord insertion. In 2008 and so far in 2009 we have seen many too many "sticky" placentas; two even had to be transported (we do manual removal on site when absolutely necessary) one for a hysterectomy and one with one liter of blood loss. In the last six weeks of 2008 I had to go after four placentas! It was not pretty, and I do not take it lightly (usually never more than one per year).

Also most shocking is the empirical experience (I have no research to prove it) of an increase of velamentous umbilical cord insertion and short cords. I also am seeing a decrease in Wharton's jelly among all our babies. Cords are also shorter. We don't cut them for a minimum of three hours at Bumi Sehat and many families choose lotus birth. Last week our midwife Ayu had to cut a cord after birth of the head, as the body would not follow, it was that short a nuchal cord—she had never had to do this before in her life as a midwife.

What are you midwives seeing?

The study I read concerning M16 genetically modified corn showed that when fed to pregnant mice, ALL OF THE OFFSPRING, in one generation, had alterations of ALL the cells in ALL their organs! Can you see why I am worried about our precious placentas? I did not make this connection, until I began to see an increase in abnormalities and pathology due to placenta and cord troubles. The fact that so many Indonesian women depend upon genetically modified soy products (tempeh and tofu) for their day-to-day protein, and the early introduction of GMO soy here got me wondering.

— Ibu Robin Lim
Bali, Indonesia

A: I am not practicing these days and hardly have time to read MT, but I think this is really important and I hope you don't let go of it.

I am a farmer and these days the only babies I watch over are my calves—the moms handle everything just fine on their own, no birthing problems. This is considered unusual for cows. If you read about calving a lot, you will learn that people are always pulling the calves out. I am aware of food issues in a way many people are not.

I sincerely hope you can help Robin Lim find a way to a) survey the women's diets (all women who come to the clinic); b) see if there is a correlation in the data; and c) design and implement a control where non GMO soy is made available to see if there is a difference. How do these numbers compare to surrounding regions? Is there a change in the environment? Exposure to different gases in the home from different cooking fuels? What is new in these women's lives?

There is so much concern in the world regarding the safety of GMOs, and if any risk at all can be shown by doing a survey, it will be a red flag to all the nations and groups that oppose GMO foods. We are taking huge risks in the environment as well. Monsanto, a chemical company, is buying up all large seed companies and trying to make the varieties resistant to their chemicals and genetically altered to resist pests, diseases and even reproduction of the plant. They are attempting to pass laws making seed-saving illegal—even if there is genetic drift from another farm they will own the rights to your crops and even push for criminal charges. This is a large scale threat and a global environmental threat. It is very well funded. Is anyone in the area using GMO seed and is it drifting to even small gardens?

I strongly urge you to contact some scientists and concerned, informed people who will know what to look for and design a study (with a control) and make non-GMO foods available to all of the women who visit the clinic. If this threat is already out in the environment it is much harder to pinpoint as it may be caused by genetic drift and/or pesticides/herbicides and not by eating the GMO soy directly; or perhaps it is linked. Someone needs to follow this up—there is no population of women unimportant enough to let us pass this by and wait for another warning signal. Please don't let go of this.

Thanks and I hope to read soon about how it is being followed up. Maybe a pilot project could be linked to it—a community farm where soy is grown and processed into healthy foods. I think the hands-on approach I learned from midwives is best—take some steps to empower people and feed them, and do the science and show everyone else what is going on.

You might like reading www.fedcoseeds.com for info on safe seed, groups that support and work for biosafe foods (like the Union of Concerned Scientists) and more about Monsanto, as well as lots of amusing anecdotes on growing safe food in a time of increasing pressure on small farmers to give up. "Climate ready" genes anyone? Roundup ready, terminator genes, lawsuits, drift—all point to securing our food safety ourselves.

I hope it all works out for you and will keep you in my thoughts and send light.

— Birgit Johanson
Mountain Blue Farm
Jaffrey, New Hampshire

Q: I am a 28-year-old woman and I've just been told that I have uterine didelphys—with two of everything (cervix, uterus and vaginal canal). According to the gynecologist I saw, I can become pregnant but she said there is a higher risk of premature birth and of a caesarean. Other than this I am perfectly healthy and have had no illnesses or anything.

While I am not planning to get pregnant in the next two years, I would really like to think about my options, to prepare myself when the time is right. I have always planned on having a homebirth with a midwife to assist. I really want the opinion of someone who is not solely from the medical side of things. I know the doctors tell me what they think is the right thing to do but I have always felt that birth is a more natural occurrence than what the majority of the medical society seems to believe.

— Deborah

A: I was recently a doula for a mom who had uterine didelphys. She didn't know until an ultrasound at 6 weeks. Her pregnancy was without any complications and she delivered vaginally. The doctor told her everything that is not being used just gets pushed to the side and there is no need for concern.

— Anonymous

A: I have had only one case of didelphys in my midwifery practice of 17 years. It was a friend of mine who, when she was pregnant for the first time, opted to have a homebirth with a CNM, because she was told she was "high risk."

The homebirth went fine, but she tore badly and had reconstructive surgery. She had no severe postpartum hemorrhage and no other complications; she has always had a very healthy lifestyle.

Then she got pregnant again and chose to have a homebirth with me. Since she had had reconstructive surgery, everything looked "normal," with only one vagina but still two uteruses. As is the case with many second babies, she went into labor so fast that I actually missed the birth, her husband caught the baby and I arrived on time for the placenta. It was a very empowering experience for the couple. She didn't tear or bleed with the second baby and had a normal postpartum period.

— Chinmayo Forro, CDM
Anchorage, Alaska

Responses to any Question of the Week may be sent to E-News at any time. Write to mtensubmit@midwiferytoday.com. Please indicate the topic of discussion *and the E-News issue number* in the subject line or in the message.

Like E-News? You’ll love Midwifery Today magazine!

Think about It

If you go to YouTube and search for "A Cow Trough?" you will see a three-minute piece about natural homebirth. There are many births on YouTube. This is our contribution. In three minutes it shows that:

  1. Birth is a family event.
  2. A woman likes to "nest" prior to birth.
  3. Birth is empowering and women can do it.
  4. It doesn't cost very much.
  5. A cow trough (stock tank) can be made into a birthing pool.
  6. Mother Nature provides excellent nourishment for the baby right away.
  7. Birth is amazing.

Diana Paul, Executive Director
Sage Femme


Re: Question of the Week Responses, E-News 11:7:
"In this case both parents carry the genetic code for Down syndrome.—Ursula Sabia Sukinik, AAHCC"

There is no genetic predisposition to Down syndrome. It is a chromosomal error that can occur any time a sperm and egg join. It is more common in older parents, but more prevalent in younger parents because they have more babies. Everyone carries this genetic code. Down syndrome occurs in all races equally. By the way, my child with Down syndrome brought joy to our home because of her patience and ability to forgive completely and quickly. She does have normal emotional range and isn't always happy, like when she wants cookies for dinner.

Evelyn Walker, mom to six, including Teri with Down syndrome
Formerly AAHCC (2000–2003)

Only letters sent to the E-News official e-mail address, mtensubmit@midwiferytoday.com, will be considered for inclusion. Letters sent to ANY OTHER e-mail addresses will not be considered.

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