June 6, 2012
Volume 14, Issue 12
Midwifery Today E-News
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Improve your midwifery skills!

Germany conferenceAttend the two-day Midwifery Skills pre-conference class at our conference in Bad Wildbad, Germany, this October. Topics covered include fear, counseling, prenatal care, twins, avoiding labor complications, second stage, Mexican techniques and much more! Check the program for more information, then register for one or both days!

Learn more about the Germany conference.

In This Week’s Issue

Quote of the Week

Birthing is the most profound initiation to spirituality a woman can have.

Robin Lim

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The Art of Midwifery

Midwives are the guardians of normal birth. Yet in these times, we may have forgotten what normal is. We are certain that a close bond between mother and child is normal. My experience is that Lotus birth facilitates that bond. Yes, it is inconvenient to move around with the baby attached to her placenta. So mother lies in, close to the baby and placenta; breastfeeding is established in this sacred circle of quiet, restful seclusion. Yes, few visitors feel welcome while the placenta is still attached. It is during this space out-of-time that family may be invented, while the new mother reinvents herself.

Ibu Robin Lim, excerpted from “Lotus Birth: Asking the Next Question,” Sharing Midwifery Knowledge, Tricks of the Trade, Vol. IV, A Midwifery Today book

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.

Send submissions, inquiries, and responses to newsletter items to: mtensubmit@midwiferytoday.com.

Jan’s Corner

Global Midwifery Council Update

The Global Midwifery Council is busy doing what we can to change birth practices around the world. We have several task forces designed to do the work of the council, such as fundraising, education, letter writing, public relations, and international treasure and recognition awards (Betty-Anne Daviss recently received the first Lifetime Achievement Award). More task forces will be added as the need arises. We have our letter of introduction ready to send out to different groups and organizations. Since you, the readers of E-News, are an important group, we have included the letter of introduction below. If you feel led to help with GMC, please e-mail me at jan@midwiferytoday.com because we need more workers in the field! Feel free to share this letter with your colleagues.

Dear esteemed partners in global maternal health,

We are writing to introduce the Global Midwifery Council, which is an international humanitarian organization of midwives and their supporters investigating birth and midwifery around the world. The council’s goal is to ensure that safe and respectful midwifery care during childbirth is available to every woman in the world.

Mothers and babies do best in an environment conducive to respect for the physiology of birth, and conscious, mother-centered midwifery has been shown to serve that need. The Global Midwifery Council analyzes birth conditions worldwide to help retain, establish or reestablish midwifery care.

The council also strives to do the following:

  • Receive and respond to needs and requests about birth issues around the world.
  • Maintain a “Situation Room” where we centralize communication and analyze information about birth-related conditions globally.
  • Promote midwifery models which provide safe, humane, respectful, culturally-appropriate birthing care.
  • Work to strengthen midwifery education.
  • Work in association with sister midwifery organizations around the world and provide an international network of experienced midwives and supportive caregivers.
  • Respond to specific educational needs and requests to help develop and support local midwifery.

We look forward to working with you in the future. If there is anything we can do to help your organization, please contact us.

Gail Hart, Elena Piantino, Carol Gautschi, Sharon Evans and Jan Tritten
Board members of Global Midwifery Council
Route de Vernier 94 1219
Geneva, Switzerland
GMC Headquarters

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.

Midwifery Today on Facebook: facebook.com/midwiferytoday
Jan on Facebook: facebook.com/JanTrittensBirthPage
International Alliance of Midwives on Facebook: facebook.com/IAMbirth
Birth Is a Human Rights Issue: facebook.com/birthisahumanrightsissue
Midwifery Education: Caring and Sharing: facebook.com/MidwiferyEducation

News and Research

Care Improved by a Checklist

Childbirth in an Indian hospital just got safer by implementing a simple 29-item checklist.

The checklist includes such things as washing hands before an exam and using a sterile blade when cutting the umbilical cord.

Drs. Atul Gawande and Jonathan Spector of the Harvard School of Public Health are testing whether checklists paired with training and education can help improve health outcomes in delivery rooms in the developing world.

“The burden of preventable deaths in moms and babies, particularly in low-resource settings, is enormous,” said Spector.

A larger study will be done, with the help of $14.1 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in which researchers will track about 170,000 births in 120 Indian hospitals. Half of the births will use the World Health Organization Safe Childbirth Checklist program. That study will better prove whether the checklist indeed reduces the number of deaths in childbirth.

— Conaboy, Chelsea. “Study: Checklist improves care at childbirth in Indian hospital.” The Boston Globe. May 17, 2012. http://www.boston.com/whitecoatnotes/2012/05/17/study-checklist-improves-care-childbirth-indian-hospital/0xz9UuJ1ekUbGw80owkNON/story.html

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Featured Article

Training Traditional Midwives

Editor’s Note: For this international edition of E-News, we asked Midwifery Today’s country contacts the following question: What are the top five points you always impart when training traditional midwives?


The top five points we always impart in training Traditional Birth Attendants are:

  1. The importance of aseptic technique
  2. Early diagnosis of signs and symptoms that need to be referred
  3. Timely referral (when necessary)
  4. Advise pregnant mother to have at least four regular check-ups throughout her pregnancy
  5. Provide tender loving care and be culturally sensitive

Cecilia Banca Santos


I have yet to train traditional midwives, but I think these points are very important:

  1. Availability of basic delivery items
  2. Infection prevention skills
  3. Prompt referrals
  4. Listening to the mother
  5. Networking with peers and other players in the birth world

Florence Okra


The top five are:

  1. The importance of doula in labor and birth
  2. How to help women with prolonged labor and posterior presentation
  3. How to avoid episiotomies
  4. Natural pain management
  5. The importance of preparation for labor and birth including antenatal classes, exercise, nutrition

Hanaa Kassem


  1. Assess immediate need for emergency obstetric care, e.g., anti-convulsants, anti-hypertensives, postpartum hemorrhage, obstructed labor, and call for help immediately
  2. Assess any other danger signs in the pregnant mother and refer immediately
  3. Protect the mother from any danger caused by you, e.g., sepsis, tears, prolonged labor
  4. Communicate to the mother, family or attendant when necessary
  5. Only work within your means and involve the mother in the decisions you make

Edwidge Kezaabu

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Know someone who wants to be a midwife?

Beginning Midwives PackageGive her the Beginning Midwives Package! Designed especially for aspiring midwives, this package includes a one-year subscription to Midwifery Today magazine, the book Paths to Becoming a Midwife: Getting an Education and the new audio-CD set Beginning Midwifery. And all at a discount off the individual prices plus shipping is included in the package price. To order

Get step-by-step instruction on the maternal exam

Order Maternal Exam for the Student Midwife, Part I, and you’ll receive a two-disc DVD set that provides comprehensive instruction for both beginning students and practicing midwives. Topics covered include palpation of the breasts and abdomen, Leopold’s maneuvers, fundal height measurement and the correct procedure for taking fetal heart tones. Colorful illustrations, detailed descriptions and live demonstrations add to the usefulness of this package. To order

Maternal Exam for the Student Midwife, Part II, The Pelvic Exam is also available.

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Make sure you get the whole story.

Midwifery Today E-News is only a sample of what you’ll find in Midwifery Today magazine. Subscribe and you’ll receive a 72-page quarterly print publication filled with in-depth articles, birth stories from around the world, stunning birth photography, news, reviews and more. Subscribe. Midwifery Today Magazine

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Placenta rituals, remedies and recipes…

…are what you’ll find in Placenta: The Gift of Life. Read this book to discover the various ways placentas have been used by people around the world and throughout the ages. You’ll also find 15 recipes that will show you how to use the placenta in ointments, essences and other remedies for a variety of ailments. Placenta: The Gift of Life is a book from Motherbaby Press, an imprint of Midwifery Today. Get the book.

Placenta: The Gift of Life

Web Site Update

Read these article excerpts from the current issue of Midwifery Today, Spring 2012:

  • The Role of the Shy Hormone in Breastfeeding by Michel Odent
    Excerpt: The best way to summarize what we already know is to claim that oxytocin is the “shy hormone”: it behaves like a shy person who does not appear among strangers or observers.
  • Kangaroo Care by Kim Wildner
    Excerpt: In order to adequately explore Kangaroo Care, it is helpful to first define certain practices, concepts and verbiage through the perspective of ethnopediatrics. We will also examine the source of conventional ideas on premie care so that we might compare and contrast the rationale and efficacy behind both ways of attending to our most fragile of babies.

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Start or continue your midwifery education!

Are you an aspiring midwife who’s looking for the right school? Are you a practicing midwife who would like to learn more? Visit our Education Opportunities page to discover ways to start or continue your education.

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Wisdom from the Web

As midwives, we use many tools. Most of them are of the simple variety—fetoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, etc. But I have noticed the benefit of a tool that is way simpler than any of those things. This tool is also more sensitive than anything made of steel or rubber. This tool can tell me a ton of information, not by what it physically detects, but in the way this tool communicates with the “unspoken.” Can you guess what it is? My hands.

— Indie Birth, a website dedicated to providing “intellectual fuel for free-thinking mommas”

Why does the hip squeeze work? During labor, the pressure of the baby’s head on the pelvis stretches the pelvis. The hip squeeze pushes the pelvis back into a relaxed position relieving the pressure of the stretch.

— Birthing Naturally, a free source of information about pregnancy and birth

Back pain is a common pregnancy complaint, often worsening as the weight of the uterus (and the baby in it) increases. Prenatal yoga strengthens the muscles that support this weight, taking pressure off the lower back. Many women experience irritation of the sciatic nerve during pregnancy, and yoga can also be great for this. The pigeon pose and half-moon pose can stretch this area to relieve pain, and inversions can help make space in the pelvis to lessen irritation.

— Babble, for a new generation of parents

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 mtensubmit@midwiferytoday.com.

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Conference Chatter

Bad Wildbad Conference

We are always looking for the next best place around the world to have an International Midwifery Today conference. We want, first of all, to change the world of birth with these events. That is, to bring information, insights and ideas for change to a couple hundred birth practitioners who then take it back to their countries. This extends the reach greatly as we have from 35 to almost 45 different countries represented at our European conferences. Even at our domestic conferences, we have the blessing of receiving midwives and doulas from many countries.

This year we are going back to Germany, our favorite venue as we search for more new places to host international conferences both in Europe and around the world. But don’t take my word for it. Lori Lester Luyten says, “Bad Wildbad is my absolute favorite conference venue ever!”

Gail Hart, a more eloquent writer than I am, describes it this way:

The Bad Wildbad Midwifery Today conferences are a sort of perfect way to recharge your batteries. It’s a way to experience a wonderful midwife conference with a great inexpensive vacation. Bad Wildbad is a truly lovely small German town at the edge of the Black Forrest. It is built along both sides of a small river and is nestled between steep hillsides. A funicular rail-car carries you up to hiking trails above in the forest itself. Sweet, intimate cafes serve great food, but also make you feel at home because most of them actually are the homes of the restaurateurs.

The spas—oh my, the spas! They are comfortable and relaxed, mostly older buildings with pools and large or small tubs fed from the hot springs, which run right into the town. The sizes range from personal soakers all the way to swimming pool-size! For a small price, you can purchase a spa-pass, which allows you to climb in for a soak whenever you feel the need. Some of the best discussions and impromptu midwife classes occur while gathered in that wonderful warm water. Bad Wildbad is a picture-postcard lovely town. A midwife conference there seems to heal both body and spirit!

We also have two wonderfully talented, excellent new teachers to replace Ina May and Stephen Gaskin, who cannot make it this year. You will not be disappointed though. Diane Goslin has done over 6000 births and brings a very high level of teaching to the conference. She works a lot with Amish families and has a tremendous amount of experience with very complex births. Gail Tully does Spinning Babies classes. I had the privilege of taking her amazing workshop. Spinning Babies is about optimal fetal positioning through conditioning of the mother’s body. Gail has developed a program of balance, gravity and movement in pregnancy and labor to help mom and baby be partners in birth. You will learn things from her no one else is teaching. She teaches in the sweetest and friendliest manner, as does Diane! We hope to see you there for a fun, educational and relaxing time that just may revive your birth soul!

— Jan Tritten

reading MT graphic

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.


While doing my clinicals as a student midwife at an Indian health service hospital, an 18-year-old laboring woman was totally in labor-land and felt the need to stand up to labor in late first stage. She was naked and standing on the bed with a squat bar in front of her for reference. The nurse, my preceptor and I were standing around the bed spotting her when the pediatrician walked in to check on progress, since mom was only 36 weeks along. We were all amused at the look on his face, but the mom was totally unaware of him. He left, and a short while later she squatted on the bed and caught her own baby.

— Linda Stobinski-Johnson

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