February 26, 2014
Volume 16, Issue 5
Midwifery Today E-News
“Undisturbed Birth”
Print Page

Welcome to Midwifery Today E-News !

Midwifery Today Online Store

MT online store

Learn more about how birth can be.

Watch Giving Birth to discover what’s possible for 95% of all mothers and babies who can birth normally and naturally. This DVD contrasts the medical and midwifery models for birth and explains the risks of routine obstetric practices. You’ll learn about the importance of doulas, see images of a waterbirth, watch a woman give birth in her own home, and learn about epidural anesthesia, cesareans and more. Giving Birth features obstetrician/gynecologist Christiane Northrup, author of the bestselling Women’s Bodies: Women’s Wisdom. Includes a free resource/teaching guide, “Giving Birth: Challenges and Choices.” To order

This issue of Midwifery Today E-News is brought to you by:

Look below for more info.

In This Week’s Issue

Harrisburg conferenceCome to our conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, this April

You’ll be able to choose from a wide variety of classes including Breech, Optimal Fetal Positioning, Beginning Midwifery, Cultural Aspects of Resuscitation and Midwifery Skills. Teachers include Jeanne Ohm (pictured), Sister MorningStar, Elaine Stillerman, Gail Tully and Carol Gautschi.

Learn more about the Harrisburg conference.

UK conferenceImprove your midwifery skills and knowledge

Attend the full-day Midwifery Skills class with Verena Schmid (pictured), Gail Hart, Amali Lokugamage, Mary Zwart and Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos. Suitable for both beginning and advanced midwives, sessions include Essential Prenatal Care, Complications of Labor and Newborn Complications.

Learn more about the Bury St. Edmunds, UK, conference.

Quote of the Week

When you consider birth as an involuntary process involving old, mammalian structures of the brain, you set aside the assumption that a woman must learn to give birth. It is implicit in the mammalian interpretation that one cannot actively help a woman to give birth. The goal is to avoid disturbing her unnecessarily.

Michel Odent

Midwifery Today E-News is just the beginning.

Subscribe to Midwifery Today, our print magazine, and you’ll receive 72-pages of midwifery information four times a year. Subscribe here.

The Art of Midwifery

At birth:

  1. Use low light.
  2. Do not disturb the mother with unnecessary interruptions. Limit talking.
  3. Have the mother choose the positions that are best for her.
  4. Make the mother central. Follow her lead and do what she needs or wants. Pay attention to her sounds, body language and expression to determine her needs.
  5. Make sure the room is warm. If mom is comfortable she will birth more easily.
  6. Comfort measures for the mom also help the baby. They are a unit.

Jan Tritten and Jill Cohen
Excerpted from “Tricks of the Trade,” Midwifery Today, Issue 81
View table of contents / Order the back issue

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.

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.

Editor’s Corner

UK Midwifery

Midwifery in the UK has a special place in my heart. Many today may not realize the role it has played in the reclamation of midwifery in the US. During the decades when midwives had been outlawed in many of our states, we could look across the Atlantic to the UK where our sisters were not only legal, but an honored part of the medical system!

When told that women did not have the mental or emotional capacity to give birth without medical intervention, we could say, “But they are able to do it in the UK!” When we were told that a doctor’s education was required to deliver babies, we could say, “It isn’t required in the UK.” When told that obstetricians were the standard of care for childbirth, we could say, “They aren’t in the UK.” When told midwives were old-fashioned and unwanted, we could say, “They are popular and very much wanted in the UK.”

For every argument put against us and for every obstacle in our way, we could look to midwifery in the UK and say, “It works there. It can work here, too.”

The UK showed our doubters that midwifery is not only possible, but also normal, accepted and expected. In the UK and around most of the world, childbirth is in the hands of midwives, not doctors.

In the US, we had to fight hard for the recognition, and even legalization, of midwives in many of our states. Though we are still unsuccessful in a few regions, our gains in midwifery could not have been achieved without the UK midwives providing an example of how midwifery can be legal and integrated into normal society.

You in the UK were our standard-bearers. You are part of our history!

— Gail Hart, midwife

Gail Hart graduated from a midwifery training program as a Certified Practical Midwife in 1977. She has held a variety of certifications over the years; she was a Certified Midwife through the Oregon Midwifery Council, and an LDEM in the state of Oregon. She is now semi-retired, and no longer maintains her license, but still keeps active with a small community practice. Gail is strongly interested in ways to holistically incorporate evidence-based medical knowledge with traditional midwifery understanding.

Jan on Facebook
Midwifery Today on Facebook
Midwifery Today on Twitter
Midwifery Education: Caring and Sharing

Love birth?
You need Midwifery Today magazine!

Conference Chatter

I am so excited to come to the UK Midwifery Today conference. The tourist in me is excited to see the famous gardens and locations I’ve read of in so many books, and the midwife in me is excited to come to the place that was most influential to the revival of midwifery in the US.

The UK still holds a strong central position as midwifery evolves worldwide. The protocols and standards accepted in the UK are likely to become adopted throughout the English-speaking world. The influence of UK midwifery can be felt everywhere. When you make changes there, you precipitate changes elsewhere.

Humanity is at an important moment in our understanding of birth. We are dealing with the balance between physiological birth and technological birth, the integration of the old and new, the recognition of maternal rights and the new discoveries surrounding the profound effect of birth on mother, baby and family.

Midwifery itself is at an important moment as we try to define the role of midwifery. The UK midwives are right in the center of it all!

I am inspired by the potential of midwives in the UK to walk the careful path into the future of midwifery and I look forward to rubbing shoulders with them at this year’s conference.

— Gail Hart

Keep up to date with conference news on Facebook:

Please support our advertisers!
Save on the New Edition of Varney’s Midwifery
Varney's Midwifery book coverThe 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 25% when you order online with coupon code VARMT4.

Featured Article

Knitting Midwives for Drugless Childbirth

I cannot forget the time when a woman could give birth in a small, dimly lit room with nobody around but an experienced and silent midwife, sitting in a corner and knitting. The situation was obviously conducive to easy births (Odent 1996).

It is fruitful to reinterpret such a scene in the scientific context of the twenty-first century. At the April 2004 British Psychological Society conference, Dr. Emily Holmes from Cambridge University presented her studies on the effects of repetitive tasks, such as knitting, in stressful situations. In one study, volunteers were recruited to watch video footage of real car crashes showing dead bodies and a lot of blood. Some participants were given a repetitive task, such as tapping out a complex five-key sequence of numbers on a keypad, to do while they watched. Those who were given such a task experienced fewer flashbacks during the following days than the others. The author concludes from Dr. Holmes’ studies that repetitive tasks are an extremely effective means of reducing tension. Dr. Holmes emphasized that her research was consistent with the actions of notorious French tricoteuses of the French Revolution, such as Madame Defarges, who knitted while watching people being guillotined, apparently never experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder. She also referred to the use of worry beads in many cultures, such as Greece, as a way to cope with stressful situations.

We might translate such findings into physiological language and conclude that when midwives spend hours and hours knitting, their own levels of adrenaline are kept as low as possible. Since high levels of adrenaline are extremely contagious, the progress of labor is to a great extent dependent on the adrenaline levels of those around the laboring woman.

Such considerations are of paramount importance at a time when we must learn to think long-term and to think in terms of civilization. The aim of any futuristic birth strategy should be that as many women as possible give birth vaginally, thanks to an undisturbed flow of love hormones. The future of our civilizations is at stake.

The essential first step is to improve our understanding of birth physiology and to rediscover the basic needs of women in labor. These basic needs are shared by all mammals. All mammals need to feel secure when giving birth: They postpone the delivery if there is a predator around. All mammals need privacy: They have strategies for avoiding observation during the period surrounding birth. After thousands of years of culturally controlled childbirth, decades of industrialized childbirth and a proliferation of methods of natural childbirth (as if the words method and natural were compatible), these basic needs have been forgotten.


Michel Odent
Excerpted from “Knitting Midwives for Drugless Childbirth,” Midwifery Today, Issue 71
View table of contents / Order the back issue

ed page graphic

Learn about 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.

Featured Products

The Hemorrhage HandbookRead about Hemorrhage

The Hemorrhage Handbook is filled with great stories told by expert midwives that give you superb insight into bleeding problems that may occur during the prenatal period, during the birth or postpartum. Topics include the importance of good nutrition, how the bloodstream works, herbs to use, emotional factors and Chinese remedies. Buy the book.

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 Mending Invisible Wings

Celebrate the Power of Birthing Women!
Epic Women DVD Slide ShowThe Epic Women DVD Slide Show by Harriette Hartigan is a powerful affirmation of woman’s ability to give birth naturally. Choreographed to Bette Midler singing "The Rose," the 31 still photographs give witness to the strength and grace of women as they work to bring their babies into the world. Order the DVD.

What is a doula?
Doulas e-book cover Learn about doulas, what they do and why they are important in Doulas, an e-book from Midwifery Today. Articles include “The Doula Phenomenon and Authentic Midwifery: Protection as a Keyword” by Michel Odent, “A Birth Doula for Every Mother” by Allie Chee and “A Doula’s Bag-of-Tricks: What’s in It for You?” by Debra Pascali-Bonaro. Available on Amazon or on Smashwords in a variety of formats.

Choose your classes from our Eugene 2013 conference!

Bring the conference home with your choice of classes on a portable USB drive. Classes available include Midwifery Skills, Developing Your Breech Skills, The First Hour after Birth, Shoulder Dystocia, Art in Midwifery and Birth, Prolonged Labor and Malpresentation. Just go here to select the classes you want and place your order.

USB_Eugene2013_2 (6K)

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

Website Update

Read this article excerpt from Midwifery Today magazine, recently posted to our website:

  • Amniotomy and Cord Prolapse by Judy Slome Cohain

    Excerpt: Research shows that artificially rupturing the amniotic sac (amniotomy) can cause umbilical cord prolapse. Amniotomy became a routine part of obstetrical care with the introduction of active management, without evidence of benefit. In the 30 years since active management was introduced, the rate at which amniotomy causes umbilical cord prolapse has not been directly studied.

Promote Your Product or Service Here
advertise in E-News

For as low as $100 per insertion for a text-plus-graphic ad, you can put your birth-related product or service in front of over 20,000 E-News subscribers from around the world. This is a great way to reach midwives, parents, childbirth educators, physicians, nurses, doulas and others interested in safe, natural birth.

Learn more here or contact our Ad Director at ads@midwiferytoday.com.

Birth Q&A

Q: To midwives: How do you protect birth from being disturbed?

— Midwifery Today

A: So simple. So sacred. Let’s keep babies in the arms of their mothers and watch peace wash over the face of the earth. Skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping, uninterrupted breastfeeding and immediate bonding are all ways we can use science to support instinct. The simple actions of lowering one’s voice, moving slowly when approaching, respecting natural lighting, using breath instead of language during contractions, providing warmth, emptying the mind and heart of distraction or fear, nurturing joy, offering plenty to drink and having patience. By observation one can learn to use skills that replace cervical checks, fetal monitoring machines, clocks, tubes that tangle and other things that come from our formal training that do little to improve outcomes, but do lots to disturb birth. The old brain has intelligence that the new brain can learn to trust.

— Sister MorningStar

A: I’m a fly on the wall observing quietly from a corner or even from the next room. I listen for cues that she wants/needs help and then I step up and do a little coaching. If she is doing great, I continue to leave her alone. I try to check FHTs occasionally when she gets up to pee or is changing positions (when she is already out of her “zone” anyway). I use visual or tactile cues before resorting to verbal intrusion. If a mom “loses it,” I bring her back and then I retreat again. If she hasn’t “lost it,” then nothing is needed, and I stay in my corner.

To be fair though, I have found that while some moms are in their hind-brains (as Michel Odent would say), for them, anything that intrudes on their labor land brain is detrimental. But for others, birth is a social affair—they like interaction. There have been times when I notice the mom starting a contraction and so I stop what I was saying midsentence so as not to disturb her, only to be told, “Keep talking. It takes my mind off the pain.” Some women want many hands on, but others need all hands off. I serve my clients, not my agenda. I will be as hands-on or -off as they wish.

— Marlene Waechter

A: To be a good midwife, you have to learn to preserve the sanctity of a laboring woman’s environment. If you allow a woman to birth on her own terms, her birth environment will naturally progress from a social event to a more reverent one. An experienced midwife knows how to recognize what is happening, follow the mom’s lead and hold her space.

— Rachel Curnel Struempf

A: Say nothing, do nothing and suggest nothing unless it is truly needed or asked for. Be aware that absolutely everything you could possibly utter or even think may influence her process!

— Maryn Green

Classified Advertising

Tell our readers about your business. Just $48/issue ($135 for four) gives you 35 words to promote your products or services. Go here to learn more or write ads@midwiferytoday.com

E-News Subscription Information

Remember to share this newsletter—it’s free. You may forward it to as many friends and colleagues as you wish—just be sure to follow the copyright notice.

Manage your E-News subscription

To subscribe

Just go here and fill out the form:

Change your e-mail address or preferred format

If you are a current subscriber and you want to change the e-mail address to which the newsletter is delivered or your preferred format, please click the “update subscription preferences” link at the bottom of any mailed issue and then make your changes.

If you are a current subscriber and want to stop receiving the newsletter, please click the “unsubscribe from this list” link at the bottom of any mailed issue and then make your changes.

If you have difficulty, please send a complete description of the problem, including any error messages, to newsletters@midwiferytoday.com.

Learn your subscription status

If you are not receiving your issues, but have subscribed, contact newsletters@midwiferytoday.com with the address you used to subscribe and we will look into it for you.

Learn even more about birth.

Midwifery Today Magazine—mention code 940 when you subscribe.

 1-Year Subscription2-Year Subscription
United States$55$105
All other countries$75$145

E-mail inquiries@midwiferytoday.com or call 800-743-0974 to learn how to order.

Or subscribe online.

How to order our products mentioned in this issue:

Secure online shopping

We accept Visa and MasterCard at the Midwifery Today Storefront.

Order by postal mail

We accept Visa; MasterCard; and check or money order in U.S. funds.

Midwifery Today, Inc.
PO Box 2672
Eugene, OR 97402, USA

Order by phone or fax

We accept Visa and MasterCard.

Phone (U.S. and Canada; orders only):  800-743-0974

Phone (worldwide):  +1-541-344-7438

Fax:  +1-541-344-1422

E-News subscription questions or problems

Editorial submissions, questions or comments for E-News

Editorial for print magazine



For all other matters

All questions and comments submitted to Midwifery Today E-News become the property of Midwifery Today, Inc. They may be used either in full or as an excerpt, and will be archived on the Midwifery Today website.

Midwifery Today E-News is published electronically every other Wednesday. We invite your questions, comments and submissions. We’d love to hear from you. Write to us at: mtensubmit@midwiferytoday.com. Please send submissions in the body of your message and not as attachments.


This publication is presented by Midwifery Today, Inc., for the sole purpose of disseminating general health information for public benefit. The information contained in or provided through this publication is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be, and is not provided as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Midwifery Today, Inc., does not assume liability for the use of this information in any jurisdiction or for the contents of any external Internet sites referenced, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advertised in this publication. Always seek the advice of your midwife, physician, nurse or other qualified health care provider before you undergo any treatment or for answers to any questions you may have regarding any medical condition.

Copyright Notice

The content of E-News is copyrighted by Midwifery Today, Inc., and, occasionally, other rights holders. You may forward E-News by e-mail an unlimited number of times, provided you do not alter the content in any way and that you include all applicable notices and disclaimers. You may print a single copy of each issue of E-News for your own personal, noncommercial use only, provided you include all applicable notices and disclaimers. Any other use of the content is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Midwifery Today, Inc., and any other applicable rights holders.

© 2014 Midwifery Today, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Midwifery Today: Each One Teach One!