December 8, 2010
Volume 12, Issue 25
Midwifery Today E-News
“Fear: Its Effect during Pregnancy/Labor”
Print Page

Welcome to Midwifery Today E-News !

hollyHappy holidays from everyone at Midwifery Today!

Look for your next issue of Midwifery Today E-News on January 5, 2011.

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Gentle Birth Is a Human Rights Issue

Both mother and baby have the right to a gentle and healthy pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Come to our conference in Eugene, Oregon, March 30 – April 3, 2011 and learn more.

Learn more about the Eugene conference.

In This Week’s Issue:

Quote of the Week

“Childbirth calls into question our very existence, requiring an expectant couple to confront not only new life but death, pain, fear and, most of all, change.”

Elizabeth Noble, quoting a new mother

Are you enjoying your copy of Midwifery Today E-News? Then show your support and get more content by subscribing to our quarterly print magazine, Midwifery Today. Subscribe here.

The Art of Midwifery

Make Your Touch Familiar

As a doula, when I have my first meeting with a client, I always end it with a foot rub using lavender scented almond oil. This gives me a chance to touch mom. I then meet with her once a week starting at 38 weeks for a foot massage. It serves many purposes, but most importantly, no matter what else is going on, during labor I rub her feet and help her relax between contractions. Massage also gets mom used to being touched and lets me know how comfortable she is with others touching her. The intimacy we create easily carries over to birth and postpartum.

Excerpted from Midwifery Today’s, Sharing Midwifery Knowledge, Tricks of the Trade, Vol. IV
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Jan’s Corner

Facebook for Midwifery

Facebook is a really interesting place. I have been posting questions, mostly of a clinical nature, on my profile page and the most fascinating conversations are taking place. What an education! As with all forms of education, you have to be really discerning on Facebook, picking out only what you believe is true. Even if you do not believe something is true, you can file it away in your heart and brain and you might need that information later. Midwifery is really an art and these conversations on our pages are really helpful.

Here are some of the questions I have posed recently that received lots of great answers:

  • What is your protocol for listening to the baby’s heartbeat (FHT) in labor—early first stage, active first stage and second stage? Does anyone actually have evidence for the timing?
  • Do you do waterbirths? What are the advantages to having a waterbirth? Are there any disadvantages?
  • Do you check for the cord around the neck after a baby’s head is born? I have found that midwives in many countries don’t routinely check for a cord. Is this just another ritual we haven’t questioned, or is there a real need?
  • Shoulder dystocia doesn’t happen very often but is very serious when it does. I have had four in my small practice of more than 300 births. I think the position of the mother affects this. Three of these mothers were in a semi-sitting position and that may have been a factor. This was in the 70s and 80s! This is still only a little more than 1%. How are your shoulder dystocia rates and what do you think affects it?

Midwifery Today has five Facebook pages that we maintain—all of them have interesting conversations. Our main page, Midwifery Today, has more than 21,000 people on it. We also have the International Alliance of Midwives (IAM), Midwifery Today Conference: Eugene, Oregon 2011, Birth Is a Human Rights Issue, and Midwifery Education: Caring and Sharing.

Facebook may have its disadvantages, but there are really some remarkable ways to use it. These days of social networking have changed the way we communicate, learn and spread the word. However, unchanged in these times are the needs of the motherbaby during the birth year. Keep up the good work and please join us on Facebook.

Jan Tritten, mother of Midwifery Today

Jan Tritten is the founder, editor-in-chief and mother of Midwifery Today magazine. She became a midwife in 1977 after the amazing homebirth of her second daughter. 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, or join her online, as she works to transform birth practices around the world.

Jan’s blog:
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Longer Breastfeeding Linked to Lower Infection Rates during Infancy

Longer breastfeeding leads to lower rates of infections during infancy, say researchers. A study that looked at 100 infants over the course of a year concluded that breastfeeding for at least six months lowers a baby’s risk of infection and lessens the severity of infections they may contract. “Exclusive breastfeeding helps protect infants against common infections and lessens the frequency and severity of infectious episodes not only in developing countries but also in communities with adequate vaccination coverage and healthcare standards,” researchers concluded.

— Ladomenou, F., et al. 2010. Protective effect of exclusive breastfeeding against infections during infancy: a prospective study. Arch Dis Child. Published online first, 27 Sep 2010.

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The Questions Are More Important than the Answers

During the twentieth century, it had been commonplace to raise the main questions regarding childbirth in a negative way. How to give birth without pain? How to give birth without fear? How to be born without violence? As long as the questions are raised in this way, they will usually lead to sophisticated and sterile solutions.

Now the time has come to formulate questions in a positive way. The primary and paradoxically unusual question should be: What are the basic needs of women in labour? This leads one, via the physiological perspective, to take into account that labouring women must maintain a level of adrenaline as low as possible in order to give birth easily. One can conclude that one of the basic needs of labouring women is to feel secure.

Starting from the need to feel secure, one cannot help recalling the most common strategy women have used through the ages in order to meet their basic needs when giving birth. They have always had a tendency to give birth close to their mother, or close to somebody who could play the role of the mother—usually an experienced mother or grandmother in the community. This is the root of midwifery. A midwife is originally a mother figure. In an ideal world, mother is the prototype of the person with whom one feels secure, without feeling observed or judged. The need for midwives is better understood than 30 years ago, but the reason for midwifery needs to be rediscovered.

It is significant that, in his famous book Childbirth Without Fear, Grantly Dick-Read never made a distinction between a birth attended by a doctor and a birth attended by a midwife.

Michel Odent
Excerpted from "Fear of Death during Labour," Midwifery Today, Issue 67
View table of contents / Order the back issue

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Web Site Update

Read these reviews from Midwifery Today newly posted to our Web site:

  • Deliver Me from Pain—Anesthesia & Birth in America—by Jacqueline H. Wolf
    Divided into chapters that explore the various methods of anesthesia used during birth, from ether and chloroform in the late 1800s to the modern use of epidurals and planned c-sections, Wolf’s thorough study is so much more than a description of America’s nearly 200-year-old fascination with medicating laboring women. Instead, as she explains in her conclusion, Wolf’s history of anesthesia during labor is key to understanding the entire context of modern American obstetric treatment.
  • Cesarean: Beyond the Wound—by Ana Alvarez-Errecalde, in collaboration with the organization, Birth Is Ours
    A nice addition to the library of any midwife or doula working with clients who have had c-sections, Cesarean: Beyond the Wound, a trilingual (Spanish, Catalan and English) book of photography and stories, captures the emotions and physical scars that accompany cesareans.
  • The Mama Bamba Way—by Robyn Sheldon
    Sheldon gives some wonderful advice about kangaroo care, breastfeeding, touching for babies and other issues parents may find helpful postpartum when dealing with a new baby. She includes an entire chapter on grieving over the loss of a child, which is particularly difficult in our society.

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Question of the Week

Q: What role do you think fear is playing in childbirth today?

— Midwifery Today staff

SEND YOUR RESPONSE to 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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