The Chameleon Midwife
Birth belongs first to motherbaby. Midwives have such an intense job, striking the balance between keeping motherbaby safe when emergencies strike and honoring the wants and needs of the family. Mothers want lots of different kinds of help. Some want their midwives to be totally hands off unless they are asked for help; others want their midwife breath by breath close. I had a mom once who insisted I breathe every contraction with her and wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom.
My friend, German midwife Cornelia Enning, does something she calls “mother-led birth.” She discusses with each mother how much hands-on support she wants and then adapts to mom’s desires in labor. It gives Cornelia an indication of the mom’s expectation. Some moms think they want hands-off care but when in labor they need something more, or vice versa. The effort always is to serve motherbaby in their journey.
Midwives are shape shifters, chameleons attempting to adapt to whatever is needed in the moment. This really is the art of midwifery, flexibility and adaptability without being false to yourself or a fake in any way. Now that is what I call a real art!
— 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 on Twitter: twitter.com/jantritten
Midwifery Today on Facebook: facebook.com/midwiferytoday
International Alliance of Midwives on Facebook: facebook.com/IAMbirth
Midwifery Education: Caring and Sharing: facebook.com/MidwiferyEducation
Join Us in August
MANA Region 3/NCMA Conference 08/05/2011 to 08/08/2011 in Cary, NC
Midwives, doulas and childbirth educators from across the region can reunite with old friends, make new ones, and learn information in workshops to enrich their professional practices. Key note speakers are Anne Frye, CPM, and Jan Tedder, FNP (H.U.G. Your Baby). CEUs applied for, MEAC and ACNM.
For more info http://ncmidwife.org/MANARegion3Conf/
News and Research
Breastfeeding Concerns and Prenatal Care
A study conducted at Yale-New Haven hospital concludes that women’s concerns about breastfeeding prior to giving birth are not adequately addressed by care providers.
The study interviewed 130 women postpartum, asking both open-ended and close-ended questions regarding breastfeeding concerns and feeding decisions. When asked open-ended questions, 81% of participants identified at least one concern, with only 24.4% of those women reporting that their concerns had been addressed during prenatal care.
When asked close-ended questions regarding common breastfeeding concerns, 95.4% of women identified at least one concern, 17.4% of which said their concern had been discussed with their provider during the course of prenatal care.
— Archibald, K., L. Lundsberg, E. Triche et al. 2001. Abstract. "Women’s prenatal concerns regarding breastfeeding: are they being addressed?" J Midwifery and Women’s Health 56 (1): 2–7.
What I Wish I Had Seen
In the United States, there is a stigma around homebirth that is hard to ignore if you are part of the birthing community. If you are a newly pregnant woman considering her options, more times than not, you will come across the anger and confusion surrounding birth in general, and not just homebirth.
The only thing I knew about birth before I had my daughter was that our bodies are made to do it, but it can be dangerous, so why not give birth in the hospital? Before my own pregnancy, a friend of mine was taking Birthing from Within childbirth classes, which I thought was strange to begin with, and was planning to have her baby in a birthing center. I figured it was just another side to her that I didn’t understand and never would.
She had her baby before I got pregnant and two things stood out to me: She had her son in the water and she was home six hours after the birth. I had always been told that birthing in water was extremely dangerous because the baby would try to breathe underwater and drown and that the first 24 hours after a baby is born is the most dangerous time, so babies needed constant supervision to make sure they survive and don’t get sick. I remember wondering for days how she could take her new baby home after six hours when the risk was so great that he could get sick.
When I got pregnant with my daughter, I scheduled appointments with the certified nurse-midwife in town and with an obstetrician at the hospital. The obstetrician couldn’t get me in until I was 12 weeks pregnant, but the nurse-midwife could get me in at eight weeks, so I chose the midwife. My pregnancy was great until the end, when I ended up with some interventions I am not happy about now, but at the time, I was so uninformed I let the obstetrician and my nurse-midwife take over my care. I had a cesarean at 37 weeks and my daughter was in the NICU for a week.
For about a year, I was so jealous of all the vaginal deliveries I heard about. My sister-in-law had a vaginal delivery about six months after my daughter was born, and I was so upset about it, it took me a long time to be excited for her.
A month after my daughter’s first birthday, one of my other friends ended up having a c-section with her daughter because of fetal distress. It wasn’t until I talked to her about her cesarean that the story of my own cesarean began to make sense.
Shortly after, I started looking into becoming a doula so I could help women have the birth they wanted instead of a birth that was forced on them.
I had read a lot on homebirth; with each book I read, it sounded better and better. My friend who had her son in the birthing center became pregnant again and this time she planned a homebirth from the start. I was becoming more educated about the process, but I was still skeptical about having a baby at home.
The day my friend went into labor, I was a nervous wreck. When I heard that the baby was born, it was as if I had finally breathed for the first time in hours. We went to see the baby and I was able to see the pictures from her birth. This time, it wasn’t that I was scared for her baby and her survival; rather, I was overcome with emotion at how beautiful the birth looked.
Everything looked so incredibly peaceful and calm. She had her family with her, and her son was able to watch his baby sister’s birth.
After I saw these pictures and realized how beautiful the birth was, I started planning my future. I wasn’t going to stop at being a doula anymore. I wanted to help women have their babies at home so they, too, could have an experience as peaceful as my friend’s birth.
— Kayce Pearson
Excerpted from “What I Wish I Had Seen,” Midwifery Today, Issue 93
View table of contents / Order the back issue
Let Miss Margaret inspire you!
|Margaret Charles Smith caught her first baby when she was five years old, then went on to become one of the last great “Granny” midwives in the United States. Watch this DVD to learn about the woman Ina May Gaskin called a “national treasure.” You’ll be inspired by her courage, perseverance and motherwit. To Order|
A way to work through grief and loss
Created as a healing journal for mothers who have lost their babies, Mending Invisible Wings is filled with healing words, drawings, poems and exercises. Each exercise includes an action, an affirmation and a self-nurturance activity designed to help the mother move through her grief. There are also plenty of blank pages where she can express her grief through words or pictures. If you have recently lost a baby, or if you know someone who has, Mending Invisible Wings could be an important step in the healing process. To Order
Fill Your Birth Library with Midwifery Today Back Issues
Each quarterly issue of Midwifery Today print magazine is packed full of birth news, insights and information. You’ll also get an in-depth look at an important topic, with several articles devoted to the issue theme. Look over the list of available issues, then order the ones you need to help improve your practice. Order yours.
What has driven hospitals
and insurance companies to turn birth into
a commercial, assembly line process?
Find out when you watch Pregnant in America, a documentary that examines our current childbirth system and the direction U.S. obstetrics might be headed. You’ll learn about the dramatic rise in cesareans, misconceptions regarding pain, and the use of numerous interventions to speed the process of birth. This DVD will give women and their families a different view of birth than is available through the mainstream media. It includes interviews with well-known childbirth experts, including Marsden Wagner, Ina May Gaskin, Barbara Harper and Robbie Davis-Floyd.
Be Prepared for Hemorrhage
Order The Hemorrhage Handbook and you’ll learn the tricks, remedies and philosophy of care involved in hemorrhage and hemorrhage prevention during the childbearing year.
Buy the book.
Give the gift of information!
|You’ll save $5 per subscription when you order two one-year Midwifery Today subscriptions at the same time. And one of these can be your own renewal or new subscription! Subscribe.
Web Site Update
Read this article excerpt from Midwifery Today newly posted to our Web site:
- Getting Pushy, by Alison Bastien
Excerpt: The final question on the final exam for the Obstetrics I class I teach at our local midwifery school is this: A mother is in labor and has reached full dilation. It seems the contractions have slowed almost to a stop, and the mother appears to be almost resting—what is happening and what should you do?
Read these reviews from the Spring 2011 issue of Midwifery Today newly posted to our Web site:
- Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn, 4th edition—by Penny Simkin, Janet Whalley, Ann Keppler, Janelle Durham and April Bolding, reviewed by Toni Rakestraw
Excerpt: With the 4th edition, the book has undergone some amazing changes. The pages are more graphical in design and easier to search, with each chapter broken into smaller sections. Sidebars break up the text so important information can be pointed out easily to the reader.
- The Doula Business Guide; Creating a Successful MotherBaby Business—by Patty Brennan, reviewed by Toni Rakestraw
Excerpt: Learn about insurance reimbursement, client refunds, preparing your contract and presenting a professional image. Brennan teaches you how to advertise with old-fashioned methods like flyers and how to make the most of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
- Miss Margaret: The Story of an Alabama Granny Midwife—DVD directed by Diana Paul, reviewed by Jan Tritten
Excerpt: People didn’t have money so she would often be paid with eggs, chickens or nothing at all—it was the depression. Margaret and other midwives used herbs at first, but they were eventually banned from doing so. She also used natural remedies such as walking. Miss Margaret’s philosophy was, “to give them kind words when they are hurting…your word is your bond. Do what you say you are going to do.”
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Expanding your personal library?
How about expanding your local library with books that encourage natural and instinctual birth? How much information about natural and instinctive birth is at your library? As a patron of a library, you have a say about what books they carry. Let your library know you want natural birth and midwifery materials to be available. Your library is your resource. Use it.
Birth Wisdom from the Web
Access to midwifery care and home birth should not be limited only to those who can afford those services out of pocket…. This law will ensure that all expectant mothers get the coverage and care they want and deserve.
— Gov. Peter Schumlin, upon signing new legislation requiring midwifery services and homebirth to be covered by insurance policies in the state of Vermont.
These midwives are ace. “We love it when you want to poo. It makes us happy.”
— Martin Carr, father, tweeting during the homebirth of his daughter, Sailor
When hospitals are under time pressure and bed pressure, they need to keep women moving through. There is a little bit of a conveyor belt system….We would like to see more flexible maternity services, where there is more space for women to labour at their own pace and not according to the clock.
— Niamh Healy, antenatal teacher, on new figures showing that childbirth interventions in Irish hospitals vary by up to 20 percent. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/health/2011/0531/1224298133062.html
If you’d like to share a bit of wisdom from the Web, please send a 4–5 sentence excerpt, accompanied by a link, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You want to be a midwife, but where do you start?
Are you an aspiring midwife who’s looking for the right school? Or maybe you’re trying to decide if midwifery is the path for you. Visit our Better Birth Education Opportunities page to discover ways to start or continue your education.
Planning a Conference
Making plans for a conference is a fun process, as we uncover what will be. Conference locations most often come about because a strong group of midwives or others who care about normal birth want Midwifery Today to bring a conference to their country. That is how conferences in Russia, Germany, Costa Rica, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Norway and Denmark came to be. [See scrapbooks of these conferences.]
A great contact, a local midwife or doula who is a mover and a shaker, is an invaluable resource when putting a conference together. After we find a venue, as we just did for Harrisburg, we figure out which teachers will be best for that location. We come up with a theme, make a program and fine tune, fine tune, fine tune!
My overall goal with conferences is to change the world of birth. We do our best to bring good clinical teachers together and look in-depth at important birth issues—fear, breech, whatever issues we can share. We want midwives and doulas to be the best they can be. I like bringing birth ideas gleaned from around the world and sharing them, thus fertilizing our practices with new and old ideas as we each carry out our unique dreams and visions for birth.
The ripples made in the birth soul of conference participants reverberates through society as they (you) go back to their communities and work for change, refreshed and loved by new friends from around the world to support them in their calling.
— Jan Tritten
Think about It
Most people, if asked, could easily identify several behaviors more offensive than breastfeeding in public. For example, many men would think nothing of traveling to the beach in the summer and exposing their hairy potbellies while sporting a pair of flip-flops that show off calloused, untrimmed, fungus-filled toenails. Which do you find more offensive?
— Megan Myers
Excerpted from “Breastfeeding in Public,” Midwifery Today, Issue 97
View table of contents / Order the back issue
Metamorphosis helps pregnant women and families with a gentle touch approach to easing unconscious tension so each family member can contribute more positively. Classes great for midwives, doulas and parents. Classes nationwide, book, DVD. http://www.MetamorphosisCenter.com
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