September 25, 2013
Volume 15, Issue 20
Midwifery Today E-News
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What are the appropriate uses of medicinal herbs based on tradition and science?
Botanical Medicine in Midwifery Practice will help you find the answers. Learn the use of extracts and the differences between standard, alcohol- and water-based preparations. This book also includes a glossary of plant categories and a comprehensive list of herbal resources, products and supplies. The final section consists of information about essential herbs for women. To order MT online store

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In This Week’s Issue

Sign up to attend the Birth Rights Summit in Belgium, Monday, November 4

Belgium conference“Birth Rights in the European Union: Mobilizing Change” — This summit will explore the intersection of law and midwifery from a human rights perspective. HRiC will convene consumers, birth professionals, and lawyers, from countries across Europe, who are engaged in lawsuits that evoke the 2010 case of Ternovszky v. Hungary. Conference participants will work toward the creation of a road map for political action capable of making human rights a reality for birthing women everywhere. This seminar is co-sponsored by Midwifery Today and Human Rights in Childbirth (HRiC) and follows the Midwifery Today conference in Belgium 30 October – 3 November, 2013. Learn more here.

Out of Many, One: Unity in Midwifery

Harrisburg conferencePlan now to attend our conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, April 23–27, 2014. Planned teachers include Gail Hart (pictured), Robbie Davis-Floyd, Carol Gautschi, Sister MorningStar, Gail Tully, Debra Pascali-Bonaro and Diane Goslin.

Learn more about the Harrisburg conference.

Quote of the Week

Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.

Helen Keller

Do you like what you’re reading? You’ll get even more content when you subscribe to our quarterly print magazine, Midwifery Today. Subscribe here.

The Art of Midwifery

Clary sage is a very special plant essence that many women have found indispensable as it tempers their hormonal balance which tends to run unchecked during pregnancy, labor and postpartum. During labor it can be applied with a gently warmed cloth to the area just above the pubic hair; scores of women have remarked that they neither wanted nor needed any pain medication thereafter.

Marie Miczak, excerpted from “Precious Essences,” Wisdom of the Midwives, Tricks of the Trade, Vol. II, a Midwifery Today book
View table of contents / Order the 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

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RSS Feed Subscribe to the Web Updates RSS feed to stay on top of what’s new or highlighted on the Midwifery Today website. Be alerted when conference programs go online, new articles are posted and more.

Jan’s Corner

E-books for At-hand Information

Midwifery Today is blessed to have a great staff. Nancy Halseide, our editor, has helped us turn articles from past issues into e-books. Our e-book topics are compelling and relevant to any midwife, doula or childbirth educator. A few of our titles are Second Stage: The Pushing Phase of Labor, The Third Stage of Labor, Birth Stories, Waterbirth, Birth Wisdom from Michel Odent and the recently-added Shoulder Dystocia. By the time you receive this E-News, our newest e-book, Doulas, will be available for purchase!

We also offer the clinical handbook series—small print handbooks that we have designed so they can easily fit into your birth bag.

Our print books are very useful, yet you can carry a whole series of e-books on your mobile device and have it with you at births right where you often need resources right at hand. The clinical series print books are different from the e-books, so please invest in both. This gives you excellent resources that are well-organized around the subjects you need most!

Midwifery Today e-books are available on Amazon and Smashwords. You can also search for “Midwifery Today” in the Amazon Kindle store or on your Kindle or Kindle app. Get your free Kindle app for your computer, iPad or phone so you are able to read our books on whatever device you carry. Times they are a-changin’ and there are many ways to get important midwifery and birth information you need to be a well-informed practitioner. Midwifery Today’s goal is to keep you informed about one of your favorite subjects—birth!

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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Live your dream and become a Nurse-Midwife at Frontier Nursing University

Frontier Nursing University’s nurse-midwifery program is the longest-running midwifery program in the United States, was the first to offer distance education, offers one of the only ADN-MSN online bridge options and educates more certified nurse-midwives than any other program in the country. The community-based distance education program allows you to complete your coursework online and clinical work in your own community.


Featured Article

Labor Encouragement with Essential Oils

Many midwives are familiar with herbs that encourage labor, such as blue and black cohosh. Not many midwives, however, know that essential oils are estimated to be up to 70 times more powerful than herbs. According to Dr. David Hill, a world-renowned essential oil expert, “Essential oils are powerful medicinal agents. Their chemical profile is diverse and concentrated, making them many times more potent, more biologically active, than other forms of plant medicine” (Hill, personal communication). Some essential oils enhance uterine action and can be used to encourage labor contractions. These same oils can be used to accelerate labor once it is established. Surprisingly, some of these oils also induce a sedative effect, producing stronger contractions while decreasing the perception of pain. (Care should be taken not to use these oils near pregnant women who are not yet full term, as they could theoretically initiate preterm labor. They should not be opened or diffused in your office if you will also be seeing other pregnant clients the same day.)

Lavender is popular amongst many midwives and doulas because of its varied uses in labor. It calms the entire birth team, lowers tensions and blood pressure and facilitates labor’s energy flow. Lavender oil contains a small amount of the ketone camphor, which can be emmenagogic, so some authorities recommend it be used with caution in early pregnancy. However, because it is a weak emmenagogue, it is unlikely to initiate uterine contractions in a healthy pregnancy. Many authorities see no reason to place restrictions on its use in pregnancy (Tiran 2000). When attempting to encourage contractions, consider the following essential oils that encourage uterine contractions: clary sage, jasmine, Solace™ and Whisper™ (doTERRA® blends).


  • Hill, David. July 20, 2013. Personal communication.
  • Tiran, Denise. 2000. Clinical Aromatherapy for Pregnancy and Childbirth, 2ed. Edinburgh, UK: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.

Ashley Musil
Excerpted from “Labor Encouragement with Essential Oils,” Midwifery Today, Issue 107
View table of contents / Order the issue

Save on the New Edition of Varney’s Midwifery
advertiserThe gold standard for midwives and students is back with Varney’s Midwifery, Fifth Edition. New to this edition are chapters describing the profession of midwifery, reproductive physiology, clinical genetics, and support for women in labor. Interwoven throughout is information on primary care, gynecology, maternity care, and neonatal care. Save 20% when you order online with coupon code VAR5MT at:

Featured Products

Learn about Shoulder Dystocia and Malpresentations with Midwifery Today’s new 4-CD Audio Set
Shoulder Dystocia Audio 4-CD Set When you order this CD set you’ll be able to listen to Gail Hart, Mary Cooper and Ina May Gaskin as they discuss a variety of important topics. Material covered includes how to identify true vs. false shoulder dystocia, how nutrition can be one of the best methods of prevention and how to assist shoulder dystocia when it does happen during birth. Also included is information about malpresentations such as twin, breech and asynclitic births and brow, face and periatel presentations. Order the audio CD set.

Learn and review basic midwifery skills
If you’re studying to become a midwife, you need General Skills for the Student Midwife. This 2-DVD set is packed with demonstrations by experienced midwives and nurses and gives you the opportunity see hands-on skills being performed. Topics covered include Sterile Technique, Basic Treatment of Shock, Maternal Temperature Assessment, Maternal Skin Assessment, Newborn Temperature Assessment and much more! To order General Skills for the Student Midwife

Do you work with laboring women?
Then you need the sixth edition of Anne Frye’s Healing Passage, A Midwife’s Guide to the Care and Repair of the Tissues Involved in Birth. Even if you have an earlier version, you’ll want this one, which is more than twice as long as the fifth and packed with vital information about the art and science of perineal care and repair. The anatomy section has been completely overhauled, the suturing lessons have been expanded and the information about tear repair has been updated. You’ll also find a completely new pelvic floor model with pattern and instructions in the appendices. To Order Healing Passage

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. Midwifery Today Magazine

Get breastfeeding information in e-book format!

Suitable for both parents and practitioners, the Breastfeeding e-book is filled with insights into various aspects of this important topic. This collection of 15 articles from Midwifery Today magazine includes “The Role of the Shy Hormone in Breastfeeding” by Michel Odent, “Milk Supply: You Have Enough” by Lina Duncan, “Supporting Mothers in Long-term Breastfeeding” by Janell E. Robisch and “The Four Pillars of Safe Breast Milk Sharing” by Shell Walker and Maria Armstrong.

Get your copy on Amazon or on Smashwords in a variety of formats.

Breastfeeding e-book cover

Fill Your Birth Library with Midwifery Today Back Issues

Midwifery Today back issuesEach 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.

Website Update

Read this article excerpt from a recent issue of Midwifery Today magazine, now on our website:

  • Help, I’m a Guy! Homebirth from a Man’s Point of View by Ken Magri

    Excerpt: At the beginning of Teresa’s pregnancy when she said she wanted a homebirth, I had to be convinced. This is a father’s story about how I became convinced and about some of the serious (but silly) concerns that can preoccupy a typical male’s mind while the female is having a giant estrogen jam-session of birthing.

Birth Q&A

Q: For moms, was aromatherapy helpful to you in labor? For doulas and midwives, what are your thoughts on aromatherapy for pregnancy and labor?

— Midwifery Today

A: I used lavender, frankincense and clary sage for my own birth last December. The relief the frankincense brought was amazing. I remember my boyfriend dropping some in the pool. I inhaled deeply and felt truly like I was in a den. I need a small, dark space when I’m in labor. It was mid-morning and the sun was streaming in the window of our small spare bedroom. After the frankincense, I went within myself and the room felt much darker. I focused all my energy on my son instead of my pain. He was born within minutes. I use it with my clients at every birth and I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.

I used lavender even in early labor with my third birth (I had a lot of tension and anxiety over previous births) and it helped me relax and let go. Clary sage…ah…it smells like birth. It brings clarity of mind in addition to helping increase/regulate contractions.

My doula bag is minimal. I don’t bring a lot of bells and whistles. What I do bring is my essential oils and some sunflower oil to use as a carrier oil (locally sourced and organic).

— Chelsie Towns

A: I was very sensitive to smells during my labor (as most women are) and I really enjoyed having lavender and eucalyptus oil. During labor I also feel comforted by familiar things; I wanted only music that I had heard many times (in my case it was a “Dead Can Dance” album) and as lavender and eucalyptus are oils that I regularly use, some part of my brain associates them with safety and comfort.

— Jenna Simons

A: I think aromatherapy has many benefits! I carry a few common oils for labor as a doula and when I’m apprenticing as a midwife; they come in extremely handy for organizing a labor pattern, relieving back labor, relaxing a mama, livening up a sleepy room, etc. Of course it’s always wise to check for sensitivities in the mom and care providers before labor or at least prior to using anything. The oils smell so much better than a lot of birth smells and hospital smells! Does anyone enjoy the hospital soap smell? I know I don’t!

— Angela Lowell

A: For a slowing labour, burning clary sage oil is fantastic for improving the effectiveness of the contractions.

— Melissa Jacobs

A: I find using clary sage on clients’ ankles, as they approach active labor really helps kick things in motion. Additionally I use myrrh as a mom approaches second stage, and things seem to go quite smoothly. Of course this isn’t with every client, just those who are open to using the oils and also when it just feels right. Frankincense also works well during the end of labor.

— Yvonne Alexander Novak

South Carolina Birth Center for Sale

Unique opportunity to purchase an established freestanding birth center in the capitol city in South Carolina! Excellent interstate and emergency access. Option of retaining an experienced LM, CPM, office manager/bookkeeper, and birth assistants.

For more information:
Lisa Byrd, LM, CPM, CLC 1900 Sunset Blvd. Suite A, West Columbia, SC 29169 Phone: 803-794-5889

Conference Chatter

Conference Feedback

Greetings, everyone! I hope this fall is going splendidly for all of you so far. This week I thought I would open up the floor, so to speak, and ask for your feedback on our conferences. At the end of every conference we pass out paper forms in which you all so graciously write down your feelings and experiences—we read them all and take every comment to heart. If you have any other feedback that never made it onto our paper forms, I encourage you to send them to me now at We try our best to take your feedback and use it to improve our conferences. One such improvement we’ve added to our Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, conference in April 2014 is to have more after-hours networking events. We’ve added on a Friday night dinner to the program, in addition to our Saturday cabaret show. We hope you enjoy this latest addition, and thank you for suggesting it!

Both our October conference in Blankenberge, Belgium, and our conference next April in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, will include an amazing class called “Comfort Techniques for Midwives and Doulas” taught by Debra Pascali-Bonaro. In it you can learn a variety of techniques for soothing women in labor, including aromatherapy techniques. Other topics, such as positions for facilitating rotation and second stage positions, will be taught in this class as well. We hope you can join us at either or both conferences for this very special class.

To learn more about this class and the other classes that will be at our upcoming conferences, please visit our website.

— Andrea Goldman, conference coordinator

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My midwife told my hubby to fill the birth tub, so he and my friend rushed from my side to go start filling the tub. Suddenly I heard a loud splash, some screams and then my friend came running into the room covered in water telling me that my whole living room, including the ceiling, had been soaked!

— Sarah Cochran

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