July 22, 2015
Volume 17, Issue 15
Midwifery Today E-News
“The Microbiome”
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What is the microbiome and what does it mean for your baby?

MT online storeDuring and immediately after birth, specific species of good bacteria from the mother are transferred to the baby via the birth canal, immediate skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding. This process kick-starts the baby’s immune system and helps to protect the infant from disease for its entire lifetime. But when interventions occur this microbial transfer is interfered with or bypassed completely. The latest scientific research is now starting to indicate that if the baby is not properly seeded with the mother’s own bacteria at birth, the baby’s microbiome is left “incomplete.” Watch Micro-Birth to learn more about these microscopic events and what they mean. To order



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In This Week’s Issue



Germany conference“Pillars of Midwifery: Insight, Information and Intuition”

Join us for our conference in Bad Wildbad, Germany, this October. You’ll be able to choose from a wide variety of classes including Hemorrhage, Breech, Mexican Techniques and Shoulder Dystocia. Planned teachers include Carol Gautschi, Gail Hart, Sister MorningStar, Debra Pascali-Bonaro, Robin Lim and Michel Odent.

Learn more about the Bad Wildbad, Germany, conference.



Harrisburg conferenceLearn from exciting teachers at our conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, next April!

Planned speakers include Fernando Molina (pictured), Mary Cooper, Sister MorningStar, Michel Odent, Debra Pascali-Bonaro, Barbara Harper and Gail Hart. Plan now to attend.

Learn more about the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, conference.



Quote of the Week

If aliens visited Earth, they would take some note of humans, but probably spend most of their time trying to understand the dominant form of life on our planet—microorganisms like bacteria and viruses.

Nathan Wolfe, an American virologist


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The Art of Midwifery

Much has been written about the human microbiome and the importance of a healthy complete biome for long-term health. We inherit this biome from our mothers, before and after birth. A complete microbiome facilitates immune development and healthy immune responses. Lack of a healthy immune system may produce inflammation-based chronic diseases, as well as allergies and auto-immune disorders.

Marion Toepke McLean
Excerpted from “Birth and the Human Future,” Midwifery Today, Issue 110
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.


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Editor’s Corner

A Key Factor for Birthing Success

A birth educator and I were talking about how so many of her students are determined to have a natural birth but end up with a cesarean. We were pondering why this might be. Do you find it to be so in your practice? Is fear the factor? Is it just hard to stay in the primal brain to birth with so much fear noise in our culture? Or is it because many are trying to birth in the hospital with many interventions? It is all the more sad when a mom is determined to have a natural birth and ends with an unnecessary cesarean. What more can we do to help these moms achieve their birthing goals?

I think one-on-one care is a key factor to birthing success. Having your own midwife who works with you in prenatal care and is with you whether at home or in hospital can go a long way toward comfort. Continuity of care from someone who knows you well and who you trust is an extreme benefit. Every mother deserves to have a caring midwife by her side believing in her, knowing her and loving her. I like the opening few lines of the Global Midwifery Council’s philosophy statement: “The most basic human right for every woman is the right to choose her place of birth and who will attend her. Mothers and babies do best in an environment conducive to the respect for the physiology of birth. Conscious, mother-centered midwifery has been shown to serve that need.” Read more on our website.

— 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

As we are learning, the human microbiome has a huge impact on our health. To date, the human microbiome has been associated with, amongst other things, obesity, cancer, mental health disorders, asthma and autism. Midwifery Today conference speaker Michel Odent has been promoting the effects of a healthy microbiome through birth and beyond for many years.

“Today we can say that, among homo sapiens,” Odent said in a recent interview, “there is a kind of ecosystem with a constant interaction between the hundreds of trillions of microbes that occupy the body; the gut, skin, mouth and so on, and our genome. Today we realize that our health and our behavior [are], to a great extent, influenced by these hundreds of trillions of microbes.”

Join Michel Odent at our Germany conference, as well as many other speakers including Sister MorningStar, Robin Lim, Cornelia Enning and many others. Register by August 8 for discounted conference prices!

— Misha Hogan, conference coordinator

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Featured Article

Homebirth and the Microbiome

I have valued homebirth ever since my doctor talked me into having one! I had two homebirths and they were the most empowering events I have ever experienced. After a horrendous hospital birth with my first child, these births were especially amazing. For the past 38 years I have dedicated my life to optimal birth whether at home, in a birth center or in hospital. But now I am learning that homebirth is even more important than I ever thought it was. New microbiome research is teaching us that how and where we are born is crucial and even life-altering. Our birth literally sets the foundation for our health and well-being or lack of it.

The microbiome information coupled with hospital dangers, such as MRSA and other pathogens, makes homebirth an even more compelling choice. I watched a program on Frontline that described a pathogen much worse than MRSA. Hospitals can completely keep the presence of this pathogen a secret…and most often they do. At the conclusion of the program, I wondered why anyone would choose the hospital for birth unless it was needed in a lifesaving situation. These types of emergency situations are why hospitals are necessary and they are very good at handling such situations, but they aren’t very good with keeping birth normal. Marsden Wagner compared going to the hospital for birth to hiring a pediatrician for babysitting services.

Another important factor in the choice of out-of-homebirth is the [number] of interventions that occurs in hospital birth. It is nearly impossible to get an undisturbed birth in hospital. Twins and breeches generally do not have a chance of normalcy and are mostly delivered via cesarean, often to avoid liability or for convenience. I hear from women all the time who were induced before their due date and then ended up with a cesarean. Why induce in the first place? Often the reason is not medical but is instead for convenience. Human rights in childbirth are becoming more and more critical. Whose baby is this anyway? Whose birth is this? Who must live with the consequences created by others?

Jan Tritten
Excerpted from “Homebirth and the Microbiome,” Midwifery Today, Issue 110
View table of contents / Order the back issue


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It’s the perfect e-book for the twinning mother
Twins e-book cover It also makes a wonderful addition to any birthworker’s library. Our Twins e-book has 10 informative and educational articles previously published in Midwifery Today magazine. Authors include Diane Goslin, Michel Odent, Valerie El Halta and Mary Cooper. There are also a few twin birth stories written by mothers. Available on Amazon or on Smashwords in a variety of formats.

Midwifery Today Back Issues have the information you need!
Midwifery Today back issuesFrom second stage and prematurity to birth change and natural remedies, back issues of Midwifery Today print magazine are packed with informative articles that will help you improve your practice. You’ll also find inspiring birth stories, birth news, poetry and stunning black and white photography. Choose from these available back issues.

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Learn tricks and tips from practicing midwives
Birth Wisdom
Birth Wisdom (Tricks of the Trade, Vol. III), is packed with information that will encourage a natural approach to safe childbearing. Topics covered include remedies, pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Order the book.


Website Update

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

  • Wise Nutrition for Pregnancy—by Sister MorningStar

    Midwife Sister MorningStar shares a handout-like article full of wise nutrition tips. “Eating healthy foods is one the greatest gifts we can give our unborn babies to insure their proper physical and mental development. Combined with fresh air, pure water, daily exercise, a gentle lifestyle and nurturing relationships, what we eat truly creates a body and baby who radiate health and happiness.”


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Birth Q&A

Q: In your practice, what methods do you employ to protect the microbiome of the baby?

— Midwifery Today

A: Healthy diet, prenatal information-sharing on beneficial habits for the microbiome, avoidance of antibiotics if not indicated (some providers put all women on prophylactic antibiotics for labor!), wait for baby to come in its own timing with no induction or augmentation unless parents choose it, plenty of skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth and in the early weeks and encouragement of homebirth (own bacterial environment). For a hospital birth, I recommend the parents bring their own baby blankets and clothes but start with skin-to-skin contact, exclusive breastfeeding unless parents decide otherwise and no separation of motherbaby. If mom can’t be with baby, then prepare dad for skin-to-skin in those early hours/days, too. If mother has to do an elective cesarean, chooses one or needs one, then I provide information on “seeding” and the parents can decide how and if they want to seed or whether to stick primarily to skin-to-skin and breastfeeding.

— Lina Duncan

A: I always counsel my doula clients to advocate for a seeding of the baby if a cesarean should occur. Before going into the OR, sterile gauze is placed in the vagina, then removed immediately after baby is born and rubbed all over the baby, getting secretions into all the folds, crevices and cavities that would be lathered in vaginal secretions during a vaginal birth. I am sure this will be accepted and common practice in a generation, but for now, parents have to educate their OBs.

— Barbara Lehr

A: I do what I have been doing for years: Hands off the newborn as much as possible and skin-to-skin with mother and father.

— Celesta Rannisi

A: It is unusual for me to touch or hold a baby within the first hours after birth. I also encourage mothers to make fermented foods part of their daily diet.

I recommend skin-to-skin contact as much as possible in the first hours with baby only in a diaper or a blanket. I often have to tell the parents they should not swaddle or wrap the baby (this seems to have entered popular culture from the hospital routines I think).

Avoid hats so baby can be fully cuddled and nuzzled. I ask them to consider using live culture yogurt on the diaper area for the first few hours and always to consider it if baby has a diaper rash.

No baths for at least two or three days and no soap, lotions, creams or powders for at least a week, if ever.

— Gail Hart

A: I practice hands-off unless absolutely necessary. Mom is the first, most sacred and only environment. Protect the motherbaby from disruption—that is our job.

— Deb Puterbaugh


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