November 19, 2014
Volume 16, Issue 24
Midwifery Today E-News
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In This Week’s Issue

Eugene conferenceSpend a Day with Michel Odent!

Michel has been involved in childbirth for more than 60 years, has practiced on the European and African continents and has experience with both hospital births and homebirths. He has a unique knowledge of the medical and scientific literature and is raising questions about the future of our species in relation to the modes of birth. Now you have an opportunity to spend a day learning from this amazing man. This full-day class is part of our conference in Eugene, Oregon, next March. (Photo by P. Ramos)

Learn more about the Eugene, Oregon, conference.

Quote of the Week

When you change the way you view birth, the way you birth will change.

Marie Mongan, founder of HypnoBirthing

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The Art of Midwifery

As soon as the newborn senses a change in the environment from the water into the air, a complex chain of chemical, hormonal and physical responses initiate the baby’s first breath. Water born babies are slower to initiate this response because their whole body is exposed to the air at the same time, not just the caput or head as in a dry birth. Many midwives report that water babies stay a little bit bluer longer, but their tone and alertness are just fine. It has even been suggested that water born babies be given the first APGAR scoring at one minute thirty seconds, not at one minute, because of this adjustment.

Barbara Harper
Excerpted from “Waterbirth Basics: From Newborn Breathing to Hospital Protocols,” Midwifery Today, Issue 54
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Editor’s Corner


It took me going to an excellent conference in London, England, before I could even believe that waterbirth was safe. The research by some very good scientists convinced me. I like what one of my colleagues says, “It was invented by women.” It seems that water is the nicest transition for the baby and it eases mom’s pain like nothing else.

My friend and colleague Dr. Diego Alarcon has one of the most beautiful waterbirth practices I have seen. His center is called La Primavera. It is in Ecuador. I had the privilege of attending two births with him. Diego takes photos during the birth and one of his doulas, usually his wife, does much of the care. He is right there for any emergency, of course. If I wasn’t already a believer in waterbirth, I certainly would have been immediately after witnessing his beautiful births. Here is a link to get you started on watching his beautiful videos yourself: Diego Alarcon’s YouTube Channel

— 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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Sacred Cesarean: A Planned Entrance into the World (E-Guide)

The Sacred Cesarean guide supports creating a positive experience for mother and child with a kind and gentle approach to cesarean birth. The guide offers a birth psychology understanding, a transpersonal exploration, and a transformative experience in mind and body. ORDER your copy at our website.

Conference Chatter

Our Midwifery Today conferences always host top-notch teachers. I want to tell you about our newest teacher: Dr. Fernando Molina. Having immigrated from Venezuela to the US, Fernando now lives in Midwifery Today’s hometown of Eugene, Oregon. He has been working with my dear friend Anita Rojas at her birth center, Sacred Waters. Fernando works as a midwife, though he has “MD” behind his name in Venezuela. He is very interested in the science of how the baby and mom communicate before birth as well as the microbiome and many other unique aspects of birth care.

Fernando is teaching at the March 2015 conference in Eugene, Oregon, as well as in Germany in November 2015. Here is a description of his class called “Magical Beginnings”:

“Every birth is the result of a magical process that was initiated by conception and then was followed by various stages of development in the womb, where the unborn child receives the introductory lessons about trust, empathy, love, sadness, anxiety and all basic human emotions. This gentle physician will guide us into the magical and sacred life of a baby getting ready to emerge from the womb of creation as he or she is bathed in the cocktail of love hormones.”

On our opening day in Eugene, Michel Odent will present an interesting course called “Newborn Babies Need Love, Microbes and Stress.” Here is the class description:

“According to emergent scientific disciplines, we know the following: Newborn babies need maternal love; this need has been ignored for thousands of years (via separation of mother and babies, delayed initiation of breastfeeding, etc.). Newborn babies are supposed to be colonized by friendly microbes that immediately educate their immune system; until recently all microbes were considered enemies. The stress induced by uterine contractions has a positive role to play in the development of human beings; until recently the word stress had an exclusively negative connotation.”

Please consider joining us in Eugene for this important conference!

Towards better birth,
— Jan Tritten

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Featured Article

A Lovely Way to Enter the World

My favorite waterbirth took place 13 years ago, a time when not many people considered this choice, nor had the birthing family and I planned it for this birth, at least not consciously.

It started one fall morning in 1987, the day dawning clear and calm. For weeks I had been waiting, along with Steve, my rowing partner and friend, for just such a day. I called to see if his schedule was clear and when he confirmed that it was, I quickly cleared mine as well. This would be it!

We agreed to meet at a protected cove that opens into Chuckanut Bay, where its waters mingle with the strong currents of Puget Sound, which swirl past the San Juan Islands in northern Washington State. Waiting and watching, I was relieved to see Steve’s boat finally rounding Clark’s Point, as the morning was slipping away. With thoughts of “no time like the present” and “time’s a wastin’,” I waded in and began my swim. Steve stowed the motor and rowed quietly beside me as we left the sheltering rocks of the cove and passed into the progressively colder waters beyond Dot Island and Governor’s Point out toward Eliza Island. The swim had been planned for Eliza, but now as it loomed before me after just a few hours, it seemed too easy a goal. Deciding then and there to extend the swim to Vendovi (9+ miles), I informed Steve and kept on going. Curious seals followed me, gulls circled and stroke by stroke I swam on. Just like a laboring mother, I began with anxious exuberance, settled into a relentless rhythm for the long run and finished with a struggle, enduring serious pain all for the joy of victory in the end. Seven and a half hours later, I hauled myself out onto Vendovi’s rocky shore. As I was too numb to do it myself, Steve helped me dry off and dress. Shivering, exhausted and triumphant, I watched the sun set with my friend as we motored toward the harbor at Bellingham Bay.

Back home all I wanted was food and heat. That accomplished, I lay back in bed, instantly relaxing into the covers. I had earned this sleep. Then the phone rang. (You knew that was coming, didn’t you!) Brioanna was in labor.

This wasn’t someone who just lived down the street. Her home was in Point Roberts, a quirky little Washington outpost cut off from the rest of the United States by water on its three southernmost sides, with Canada to the north. To reach her, I had to drive 30 minutes to the Canadian border, go through customs into British Columbia, drive northwest toward Vancouver, and then south again to Tsawwassen and through another international border checkpoint down into Point Roberts. From there, she lived in the farthest southeast section of the community.

“Are you sure this is it?” This standard stall for time, wishful-thinking question bubbles forth when I’d really rather stay right where I am.

“Yes. I know I’m early, and I think we still have some time, but yes, this is it.”

Knowing the marathon involved in getting there, as well as the steely heart of some of the border guards (who could just as well choose not to let a midwife pass in the wee hours), I decided to go right away and try to nap at Brioanna’s. All I know is I must have been a lot younger then, because I made it just fine. Once there, my pain began in earnest. Both wrists ached, a throbbing fire from repetitive stroking. My ankles and knees were hugely swollen, barely movable. The reflected sun had burned and chapped my lips, and every body crease was abraded from friction and salt water. Pathetic.

Brioanna and her husband were excited about the swim and wonderfully kind and gentle with me. I really think her husband spent more time massaging me than he did her! In the end, Brioanna chose to sit in her bathtub with the plug partially ajar, leaving the water running from the tap directly onto her lower back. This created a current of water, which swirled around her and seemed so very appropriate, considering our watery sentimentalities of the moment. It also worked wonders for her pain. (As for my pain, the unfortunate sensation of kneeling on the hard floor next to the tub is a torture still etched in my brain.) As the baby moved down, Brioanna sang hymns nonstop, louder and louder, with increasing urgency. Our eyes were locked. Abruptly, there came a catch in her voice, and she was pushing. She brought her legs apart and the baby slipped out. It was grand!

Judy Edmunds
Excerpted from “A Lovely Way to Enter the World,” Midwifery Today, Issue 54
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You want to be a midwife, but where do you start?

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Website Update

Read this article from the Autumn issue of Midwifery Today magazine:

  • Tribute to a Maverick—by Ina May Gaskin

    The dynamic influence of the Gaskin duo reaches far and wide, and in this touching piece, Ina May gives tribute to her beloved husband, Stephen, who recently passed away.

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Birth Q&A

Q: What have you seen as benefits of waterbirth?

— Midwifery Today

A: For me, being in the water gave me a greater sense of privacy. The walls of the birth tub put enough of a boundary between me and my birth team that I truly felt in complete control of my birth.

— Christina DeVaux Menis

A: I relax best when I am in or near water. For me, a waterbirth means being relaxed and feeling safe.

— Rachel Blevins

A: I always go to water for pain relief, so it was a natural draw for me. The most beneficial part for me was the ease of movement. I was able to easily change positions whenever I felt the need.

— Lauren Doherty Cole

A: The easy answer is great mobility. After my second child’s birth, there were chunks of vernix in the water that made me feel like I was dipped in the most exquisite lotion, wrapped in silk! I felt like I was back in the womb—a larger womb with my baby in my arms looking in to my eyes feeling each other’s souls. It was delightful in that primordial soup.

— Ruth Shepard Trode

A: As a mom of three, my last birth experience was in a birthing tub and I wish I could have had a waterbirth with my other babies. It was very comforting and allowed me to get in a position that was comfortable and natural, which was on all fours. It really let my body stay in control. It was an amazing experience and I am going to do it again if I have a fourth baby.

— Rhonda Deitz Dove

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