What if we had optimal birth? That would mean every mother and baby would experience the best birth possible for them, taking into consideration their health (emotional, physical, spiritual) and any other unique aspects of their pregnancy. What if mothers were not induced? By the way, induction is the first step to the cascade of interventions and is seldom necessary. What if doctors and nurses were only trained in normal birth before ever being allowed to see complications? What if they were known for loving and protecting the natural birth process? What if women were taught from the time they were born about the absolute power and beauty of birth?
What if we had a proper war on drugs beginning in the birth room and advocated for healthy living instead of suggesting a pill for everything, thereby supporting a bourgeoning pharmaceutical industry? We are a nation on drugs. What if the power and beauty in birth were given back to women and these women became nearly fearless and mostly courageous in their birth with the realization that this is their foundation to motherhood? As Jeannie Parvati Baker encourages us, what if women of the earth took back their birth?
I know we are not supposed to speak in “what ifs,” but what ifs give us hope, and hope is what we need along with the Beatles’ words, “All you need is love; love is all you need.” But right back to the birth room, if mothers and unborn and newly born babies were really loved and respected by all who work with them or speak to them, we would not be in the mess we are in with regards to childbirth. In the US, nearly every mother is now either induced or scheduled for a cesarean. That is criminal. It is a criminal use of power and not an act of love, and so we need to go on working for this dream. For each motherbaby who finds their way to an optimal birth, we are one birth closer to making birth gentle for all.
— 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.
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Compound Presentation: An HBAC Triumph
“So what does it feel like when your water breaks? Is it obvious?” I asked my sister, Jessi, this question; she was going to be my doula. “It’s obvious,” she replied. “There’s almost a kind of popping sensation that goes with it.”
I’m not sure why I asked that question. I wasn’t particularly expecting my water to break. In fact, I didn’t know what to expect. This was my second pregnancy, but I had never experienced labor before―my oldest son was born by scheduled c-section due to breech presentation. In any case, I felt the urge to ask about my water breaking. I was 39 weeks and one day, and all week I had been experiencing lots of moments of increased energy and an overwhelming desire to get everything ready for what I was hoping would be a homebirth.
I soon found out why I felt the need to ask. At 7:00 the next morning I woke up to a “popping sensation” and quickly realized my water had broken. Things were pretty exciting for a bit. We called Kurtis’s parents to come pick up our son, Peter. Jessi called the midwife to let her know my water had broken. Kurtis and I went out for a walk, but after about an hour or two of absolutely no contractions, the excitement wore off.
My mind began to race with all the possible scenarios. I was GBS positive and had previously decided to do prophylactic antibiotics once my water broke. This is something the midwives in some places are able to do at your home in active labor, but because the doses need to be repeated every four hours, my midwife needed me to go to the hospital to get the antibiotics until labor started, otherwise she would potentially spend the next 24 hours travelling back and forth to my house, then be too tired to attend me once I was actually in labor.
I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of going into the hospital (one of my biggest fears was getting “stuck” there), so we waited all day until I was approaching the additional risk factor of having ruptured membranes for more than 18 hours. That evening we grabbed the hospital bag “just in case” and drove to the hospital to get the first round of antibiotics. At this point I was having contractions, but they were very sporadic and not as intense as they would become. I was using my HypnoBabies technique of turning my light switch off during these contractions; I had trained myself to go completely limp during a contraction so that my body wouldn’t fight the sensations. After the antibiotics were administered, we went home and went to bed to try to get as much sleep as we could before returning to the hospital for the second dose of antibiotics.
[For the rest of the story, purchase Midwifery Today, Issue 102.]
— Katie Findlay
Excerpted from “Compound Presentation: An HBAC Triumph!,” Midwifery Today, Issue 102
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Belly dance and pregnancy: a perfect pair!
Learn how to do it with Dance of the Womb: A Gentle Guide to Belly Dance for Pregnancy & Birth. This 2-disk DVD set includes a 45-minute warm-up and six dance chapters that teach specific movements and their uses during labor. You’ll also see belly dance in practice during labor, as well as a beautifully filmed 50-minute homebirth documentary. To Order
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Q: How many of you have had an HBAC? Please tell us about it.
— Midwifery Today
A: I had an HBA2C which was beautiful, empowering and healing!
— Christie Craigie-Carter
A: My HBAC was a surprise breech. My cesarean was for (preeclampsia and) breech presentation. It was so amazing knowing that my body could do what I wanted it to do all along.Of course, being an HBAC in Illinois, I had a very difficult time finding someone who could help me. It can be very challenging to find the key to our network of underground midwives.
— Sarah Haberstich
A: Mine was 18 years ago and remains the best day of my life, ever. As a result, I have graduated to helping women to HBAC―only a few so far, but hopefully more in the future.
— Alison Reid
A: My favorite is the homebirth lit only by candles for a La Leche League leader after her three cesareans and two other hospital births. It was so peaceful. She was so empowered. It was holy!
— Deb Phillips
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As well as being the managing editor for Midwifery Today magazine, I also work as a childbirth educator. What a wonderful combination! The magazine is so rich with high-quality information that I feel my knowledge with regard to gentle birth has increased ten-fold. Any childbirth provider will benefit from the wisdom Midwifery Today shares through its four issues a year. And what a process it is to put together! With close to 25 articles in every issue (most magazines have far fewer articles and many more advertisements), the contributions are carefully selected and refined to produce a well of information for subscribers. Since Midwifery Today has been educating the world for over 25 years, it has become a global resource with the top natural childbirth advocates, such as Michel Odent, Ina May Gaskin, Sarah Buckley, Gloria Lemay and Gail Tully, contributing their articles in every issue. At a rate of $55 per year, you can’t afford to pass up receiving a magazine that offers a book’s worth of information in every issue. Subscribe here and receive our future issues with the following themes: Doulas, Hemorrhage, The Umbilical Cord and Interventions.
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I couldn’t believe we had just birthed a baby without complications, without medications and in our own home. I was absolutely amazed. Several times I thought, but never said, “Just take me to the hospital.” At the same time I realized I could never get myself anywhere with those contractions, and even if I did, I wouldn’t make it to the hospital. I knew it was just the very normal thoughts that happen during transition, so even in the moment I wasn’t concerned about saying I couldn’t do it and thinking I just wanted to go to the hospital for pain relief. My third birth saw all my heart’s desire for birth come to fruition. I didn’t have a c-section as with Emily, I didn’t have an epidural as with Kylie and finally I had the homebirth that I had wanted for so long.
— Ashley Klemm
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