October 23, 2013
Volume 15, Issue 22
Midwifery Today E-News
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Welcome to Midwifery Today E-News !

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In This Week’s Issue

Learn about breech birth with Cornelia Enning, Carol Gautschi and Gail Tully

Belgium conferenceYou will spend the morning with Cornelia as she shows you how to work with breeches in water and explains the advantages of waterbirth for breech presentation. In the afternoon, Carol and Gail will show you how to turn breech babies and discuss what to do if the baby won’t turn. The class covers palpation skills, estimating fetal weight, amniotic fluid, how to communicate with the baby with touch and words and much more. This full-day class is part of our conference in Belgium, 30 October – 3 November. [Photo by Sophia Williams]

Walk-in registrations only at this time. Learn more about the Belgium conference.

Harrisburg conferenceCome to our conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania!

Mark your calendars and save the date: April 23–27, 2014. You’ll be able to choose from a wide variety of classes including Breech Workshop, Optimal Fetal Positioning, Spinning Babies, Cultural Aspects of Resuscitation and Midwifery Skills.

Learn more about the Harrisburg conference.

Quote of the Week

At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.


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The Art of Midwifery

One way midwives can facilitate strengthening the bond between the growing fetus and the family is by performing a simple, quick, no cost and fun ritual with the mom and family. Kids especially get a kick out of watching and participating in this act: drawing a picture of the baby on the mom’s tummy, overlying the actual position. It is easy to do and families leave their visit with their baby visualized to appreciate for a day or two until the ink washes off.

Sharon Glass Jonquil, excerpted from “The ‘Art’ of Midwifery,” 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 mtensubmit@midwiferytoday.com.

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

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Jan’s Corner

Deepening Relationships through Palpation

Midwifery is all about relationship. Palpation increases the joy in the relationship with both mother and child. It is the time to get to know the baby. Midwife Carol Gautschi always talks to the babies. She introduces herself and speaks with the baby at every visit. She finds that this is reassuring to the mom, knowing the midwife cares about her baby. With a relationship already set between midwife and baby, if midwife needs the baby’s help for something in the birth process, the midwife can talk to the baby and get cooperation. Midwives who talk to babies during pregnancy find that the baby will respond to their voice at birth.

The palpation part of prenatal care offers time to share insights with the mom. The focus of pregnancy is the baby coming earth side, but so much happens during palpation besides just learning the position of the baby—there is dating the pregnancy, talking about issues and sharing love and oxytocin. This time can ignite a midwife’s intuition allowing her to “see” many things if she is alert.

Always ask permission to touch mom. Does she recoil or stiffen up at touch? Might there be abuse issues you are dealing with? Palpation seems like a simple subject, but there is so much to it. Palpation can be a time of deepening relationships with families.

Don’t you just love all parts of the birth year?

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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Midwifery Education: Caring and Sharing

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Featured Article

What Is a Birth without Loving Touch?

Touch is a basic need in the lives of beings. We depend on touch to survive at many levels. Humans and animals—we all crave it, need it, appreciate it and use it effectively for our benefit. At least, when we are babies and at the very beginnings of our lives, we are intimately connected to our mothers and rely on touch, smell and physical closeness for not only our survival, but also for the optimization of our health and well-being. It is later in life that some cultures have a tendency to move away from physical touch, but this is not necessarily due to the lack of a need for it, but rather as a curbing and civilizing of our animal instincts, which humans have been considering in the last centuries mostly as “lowly” or as “far away from godly.”

It is through touch that energy can be shared, uplifted, rooted, moved and used as fuel as we give it and receive it. This is why touch and massage for pregnancy and birth can be especially important, as women in labor need to move a lot of energy through themselves, give themselves in to a lot of energy and allow a great many changes in their souls and bodies in order to open up to give birth.

Fear can be a very tricky challenge to surpass for many women, as society and the medical system have specialized in past and current decades in feeding and focusing on the fearsome aspects of birth. Feeding women their insecurities and strengthening their lack of self-esteem and power has no doubt been a strategic means of controlling women’s decision power in their everyday lives, but also, quite specifically, in pregnancy and childbearing.

Naolí Vinaver
Excerpted from “What Is a Birth without Loving Touch?” Midwifery Today, Issue 92
View table of contents / Order the back issue

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Website Update

Read this article from Midwifery Today magazine, Autumn 2013, now on our website:

  • Cytotec and the FDA—by Ina May Gaskin

    Excerpt: One thing should be noted: although it’s obvious that many physicians ignored the FDA’s warnings to discontinue use of terbutaline to ward off preterm labor, no campaign was ever waged by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) to pressure the FDA or to muddy the waters about the risks of using the drug in pregnant women. The FDA was thus free to issue a press release that increased the chance that its warning on the website would actually reach some of the public. What happened in the case of Cytotec/misoprostol is quite different and more complicated.

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Birth Q&A

Q: In many practices, ultrasound has replaced palpation. What are the benefits of palpation and how do you use it in your practice?

— Midwifery Today

A: As a midwife for 32 years I can tell you that palpating is by far the better option. The ultrasound might confirm that the baby is head down or that the baby is ROP or whatever right at that moment, but being able to feel and then assess how the baby responds or what position it’s in when moving and then what position it goes to when resting is very important. And I teach my apprentices to count on their hands! This is vital if attempting a version or trying to solve slow descent. While clients may get a sonogram if requested or if there is a medical need (like we suspect multiple gestation or placenta previa, etc.) we do not require them. It is my firm belief that in the world of midwifery, science has not overcome intuition and touch at this point!

— Thalia Martin Hufton

A: I’m not a midwife but I had an awesome pregnancy here in Los Angeles with zero ultrasounds and vaginal exams. My pregnancy was amazing and my delivery was awesome! Even five months later I want to scream it from the rooftops. Every woman deserves to feel this good.

— Tobi Tommaney

A: I think one of the biggest benefits of palpation is that it requires intuition to be utilized, which is huge. It’s easy to second guess yourself when relying heavily on ultrasound or other tools that infringe upon the need to tap into intuition on a regular basis and things can then more easily be missed.

— Leigh Ann Nitz

A: The benefits of palpating go so much deeper than checking fetal position, growth and fluid levels. When a woman allows another to lay their hands on her belly that is full with life and when the midwife asks the baby to show her its position, a deep, lasting connection is built. It takes intuition and skill, but also human connection on a level many will never experience.

— Amber Morrisey

A: I love to palpate a pregnant belly. I usually just cup my entire hands on the momma’s belly. I think this acclimates momma to my hands and lets me get an overview. I then start feeling the baby and I can also get a feel for the fluid, too. I like to talk the entire time. I talk about the baby’s movement, how it feels when it moves and how it is positioned, and I have momma feel baby parts along with me. I want her to connect with the inner life of her baby and what it is telling us about position and well-being. It is so important to have that connection and so sweet as well.

— Vicki Gilbert Ziemer

A: I love my hands! (I hope this doesn’t sound boastful.) They get to know each woman’s shape and baby’s growth and position and any subtle changes over the months. I find that my hands are usually more accurate about the size and weight of a baby than a scan, not that I am in the habit of worrying women about baby size. I don’t understand how you can expect to attend a woman in the most vulnerable and intimate act if you haven’t introduced yourself to her by your touch. It is part of the trust which is built between you, and a machine will never replace it!

— Alison Reid

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Conference Chatter

Greetings everyone,

Since the theme for this edition of E-News is palpation, I wanted to show my appreciation for some of our pregnant volunteers who come to conferences and let us practice palpation on their abdomens. I have just finished coordinating our gracious volunteers for Belgium and have so much appreciation for them for donating their time to help our students expand their knowledge.

At our Harrisburg conference in April 2014, we will need several volunteers for both Spinning Babies classes (yes, it’s so popular that Gail is teaching it twice!) and her Belly Mapping, Palpating and Belly Painting class, and perhaps other classes as well. I know it’s far in the future, but keep an eye out around conference time for pregnant friends or clients who may want to donate their time at the conference.

And if you would like to learn more about palpation yourself, please join us at one of our upcoming conferences. For more information on these and other classes, please visit our website: Belgium 2013 / Harrisburg 2014

For everyone attending our conference in Blankenberge, Belgium, I will see you in a few days at the registration table. Safe travels!

— Andrea Goldman, conference coordinator

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