May 13, 2015
Volume 17, Issue 10
Midwifery Today E-News
“Birth Centers”
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Birth Wisdom from Michel Odent

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This e-book is a collection of 24 articles by French obstetrician and natural childbirth advocate Michel Odent. Dr. Odent has been influencing the history of childbirth and health research for several decades and is familiarly known as the obstetrician who introduced the concept of birthing pools and home-like birthing rooms. When you buy this e-book, you’ll be able to read articles such as When Love Hormones Become Useless, Dispelling Disempowering Birth Vocabulary, and Childbirth from a Bacteriological Perspective.

Get your copy on Amazon to read on your Kindle or free Kindle app: Amazon
Also available on Smashwords in a variety of formats.

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In This Week’s Issue

Germany conferenceLearn about breech birth at our Germany conference

Attend this full-day class with Angelina Martinez Miranda (pictured), Cornelia Enning, Michel Odent and Gail Tully. You will learn about the most current breech research, see demonstrations of basic breech skills and increase your knowledge of breech complications. Sessions include Breech Birth Research, Turning Breech Babies, Alternative Methods for Breech and Breech Birth in Water.

Learn more about the Bad Wildbad, Germany, conference.

Quote of the Week

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

Marie Mongan, founder of HypnoBirthing Method

Midwifery Today E-News is just the beginning.

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The Art of Midwifery

A colleague with an astute sense of smell told me how she is aware of changes in the smell of women as they progress in labor. Robbie Davis-Floyd and Elizabeth Davis quote a Canadian midwife in whose practice a midwife’s diarrhea came to be accepted as a warning of problems in a labor. … I think [the midwife is] intuitively picking up that something isn’t quite right here. It’s coming out in the body—it hasn’t got into the head yet.

Mavis Kirkham, excerpted from “Bodily Knowledge: The Wisdom of Nausea,” Sharing Midwifery Knowledge, Tricks of the Trade, Vol. IV, 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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Editor’s Corner

Amish Dads

I had the lovely experience of going to two Amish births with Diane Goslin during my recent trip to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Part of the purpose of the trip was to find a venue for next year’s Midwifery Today conference in Harrisburg. Diane always rolls out the red carpet whenever I visit and I get the opportunity to stay with her. I appreciate doing clinic with her because I always learn so much from this very experienced midwife (around 7000 births!). She is a humble yet brilliant midwife.

The thing that fascinated me about these two births I attended with Diane was the sweet, encouraging presence of the fathers. Amish are quite shy about anything birth-related, and so they try not to let the other children know there is a birth going on. I expected the fathers to not be present because of the secrecy involved, but they are, at least in Diane’s practice.

I wondered if this was something universal among the Amish, so I wrote to my dear friend Mary Cooper who works with Amish families in Ohio. Mary said that 99.9% of the fathers are present in her Amish population. It seems this is common with Amish dads. I hope we can all learn from the quiet assurance these dads provide.

— 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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Conference Chatter

Whether a woman is birthing at home, in a birthing center or a hospital setting, Dr. Fernando Molina’s Magical Beginnings class brings depth and understanding to the process. His class will be offered at our Germany conference.

Below is the description of Fernando’s class. See all the classes being offered in the Germany program. We hope you can attend!

“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 as practitioners how to teach about this magical process. Fernando will teach us about how to help a mother reconnect with her wisdom as a pregnant woman, go within her inner silence to connect with herself and her baby, and rediscover her divine power to give birth.”

— Misha Hogan, conference coordinator

Keep up to date with conference news on Facebook:

Featured Article

Mercy In Action: Philippine Birth Center Statistics

[Note: This article is from 2004, so the statistics for Mercy In Action reflect that year. Mercy In Action is still going strong, supporting and helping families in the Philippines.]

Childbirth in much of the world is a study in contrast. On the one hand, it is a time of joy and celebration of new life. Yet for far too many families in poor communities, it becomes a nightmare. Well over half a million women die annually attempting to give birth, with 99% of all maternal death occurring in the “developing world.” Yet most of these tragedies could be prevented with simple midwifery care. The Philippines is a land of contrast as well. On the one hand, it is a beautiful tropical archipelago of more than 7100 islands populated by warm, friendly people. Yet it is also a land of severe poverty and deprivation, where many families live in squatter huts without sanitation or clean water sources, and the minimum daily wage for a laborer is the equivalent of US $2. Philippine national statistics show that, on average, one mother dies of pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes every six hours, and a newborn baby dies every five minutes.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the world’s greatest current health need is making motherhood safe. The WHO goes even further by stating that the health care professional needed most to save the lives of the mothers and babies is the midwife—especially the midwife who is trained to work outside of hospitals. In light of this, I conceived the idea to start “teaching birth centers” in the Philippines. My husband Scott and I, along with family members, colleagues and supporters, founded Mercy In Action, a non-profit 501(c)(3) Christian organization that sets up clinics in the developing world for two purposes: to help make pregnancy and birth safe for women who cannot afford medical care and to train missionary midwife students to start other charity birth centers among the poor in the developing world.

On February 8, 1996, a 34-year-old Filipina woman named Bebe walked into our first fledgling birth center on Mindanao island and delivered a healthy baby boy, the first of many thousands more to come. In 1998 we began another birth center on Cebu Island, and this year, 2004, we began our third birth center on northern Luzon Island. Besides having cared for 7565 women and babies, midwives in the birth centers have trained 95 missionary midwife students to date, and the work described here continues.

Vicki Penwell
Excerpted from “Mercy In Action: Philippine Birth Center Statistics,” Midwifery Today, Issue 70
View table of contents / Order the back issue

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Want the whole story?
Subscribe to Midwifery Today print magazine and four times a year you’ll receive 72 pages filled with complete articles, birth stories, stunning birth photography and more. Midwifery Today E-News is just a taste of what you’ll find in Midwifery Today magazine. Subscribe. Midwifery Today Magazine Issue 113

Placenta rituals, remedies and recipes…
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Learn from the teachers at our Belgium conference
Order this selection of classes on a portable USB drive and you’ll be able to listen to the wisdom and knowledge of our Belgium 2013 conference teachers whenever you have time. Classes include Physiological Analgesia in Labor with Verena Schmid, Waterbirth with Cornelia Enning, First Do No Harm with Michel Odent and Hemorrhage: Prevention and Management with Gail Hart.
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Learn how you can have a safe, gentle birth.
Pregnancy and Childbirth Secrets Pregnancy & Childbirth Secrets is packed with information that will guide you throughout your pregnancy and during your first days as a mom. Mothers, childbirth professionals and researchers share their experience and knowledge, giving you the insight you need to have a birth that is safe and rewarding for both you and your baby. To Order

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Org. Birth DVDThe fact that childbirth can be a glorious emotional, spiritual, and physical experience and not one drenched with pain. This DVD intersperses stunning moments of women in the ecstatic release of childbirth with commentary by experts such as doctors Christiane Northrup and Marsden Wagner, midwives Elizabeth Davis, Naolí Vinaver and Ina May Gaskin, and social scientists Robbie Davis-Floyd and Carrie Contey. Get your copy and show your clients what birth should be like. To Order Also available: Organic Birth: Birth is Natural

Website Update

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

  • After the Disaster: What Comes Next in the Philippines—by Vicki Penwell

    Excerpt: Last Christmas season, three of us Penwell midwives were living at ground zero of the Philippine disaster zone. From before Thanksgiving until the end of January, we were sleeping on the floor (when we did sleep), delivering babies round-the-clock in a temporary birth tent and caring for hundreds of wounded, sick and traumatized survivors of the November 8, 2013, super typhoon Haiyan, locally known as “Yolanda.”

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Birth Q&A

Q: Why are birth centers beneficial?

— Midwifery Today

A: I owned a birth center practice for 13 years and have also worked as a birth center director. I am now working with a group to reopen a center. I have also been a homebirth midwife. For me personally, I have always preferred birth center birth. Having everything in one place and knowing where it is (without carrying in a bunch of junk, in a hurry, upstairs, etc.). Being able to attend more than one birth in a single location. Each woman has a “team” with a student midwife and other birth support people she brings, but I can serve two women (or three) very personally without worrying that another lady is in labor somewhere else and not knowing how or if I will get to that delivery (even women with due dates weeks apart can deliver almost at the same time). There is no cat hair or dog hair all over me, no trying to avoid stepping on the rabbit, ducking from the bird or having a birth tub popped by a cat (these all have happened to me at homebirths).

— Judith Tinkelenberg

A: I had four homebirths. Personally, from a consumer perspective, I felt exactly the opposite from Judith in favor of homebirth! I loved knowing exactly where everything was, how to acquire everything, and knowing my midwives were focused on me and not on three women (or more!) in other rooms. I knew the midwife was there in my home should I need her but was able to stay in privacy until I was ready to be attended. I knew the midwife had all she needed with her. I was comfortable with the fact that she might not make it in time and was confident things would be fine and she would make it as soon as she was able.

Now, if I were in a situation where a birth center birth was preferred over a homebirth and not serious enough to necessitate a hospital birth, I would gladly birth in one as long as patient autonomy was priority and I wasn’t forced/coerced into anything purely for protocol or insurance reasons. I’ve never experienced a negative birth center birth as a doula and recommend them to anyone who isn’t ready for a homebirth and thinks a hospital birth isn’t for them.

Birthing in a hospital would be my last resort for a healthy pregnancy. It would take a monumental convincing reason to get me in there!

— Alicia Kaye

A: I had my daughter in a birthing center seven years ago. It was an amazing experience. It was a home-like atmosphere. I had a huge room to myself, a tub, shower and a beautiful queen-sized bed that I birthed in. I felt calm, collected and confident. My daughter came into the world with ease. No interventions were needed. However, I did have to have an IV due to strep B and oxygen during my second of three pushes. I’m so grateful for the birth center, my midwife and the staff. It was exactly what I needed at that time in my life. It allowed me to have a flawless delivery.

— Victoria Logan

A: Birth centers bridge the gap between homebirth and hospital birth. They provide a happy medium and give women a natural birth home-like option with the peace of mind that there are hospital equipment medical procedures that can be done for comfort or safety. This is not to say that homebirth isn’t safe, but a lot of moms really appreciate the comfort of knowing the equipment is there. I love that women have this option, and we need birth centers and homebirth midwives both to continue giving women options to choose how they want to labor and birth!

— Kayla Felix

A: Birth centers are irreplaceable. They allow a laboring mom to have choices, and they allow her to feel (and be!) empowered. Birth centers also provide that extra blanket of safety that a hospital would provide, but without the birth experience being transformed into a birthing show. It’s amazing what laboring mommas can achieve when they receive encouragement versus offers of drugs, support versus monitoring and trust in their body versus medical interventions. Without birth centers, the choice to have a natural birth becomes much more difficult because options are few with environments that support comfort, peace and love.

— Marcy Gordon

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