September 2, 2015
Volume 17, Issue 18
Midwifery Today E-News
“Birth Around the World”
Print Page

In This Week’s Issue

See how birth should be

MT online storenacer con amor cambia el mundo, a 4-disc DVD set from La Primavera Maternidad Clinica, gives you over seven hours of birth footage. Jan Tritten says: “The births shown in this DVD set are the most beautiful births I have ever seen on film. They are so gentle and work so well with nature, they show how birth should be conducted in a very gentle, hands-off kind of way.” The set is in Spanish only, but our shared humanity makes them completely relatable. To order

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Quote of the Week

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.

Mother Teresa

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The Art of Midwifery

All midwives working internationally or in a disaster zone need to know how to teach a mother of a premature baby the proper way to care for her tiny infant, and the most evidence-based thing we know of is to use what is called kangaroo care. This is a low-tech methodology using the mother’s own body to keep the baby warm, stimulate breathing and provide a constant source of the mother’s breast milk, which is the perfect food for a baby.

Vicki Penwell
Excerpted from “Prematurity and Kangaroo Care during a Disaster,” Midwifery Today, Issue 111
View table of contents / Order the back issue

Germany conferenceLearn about breech birth at our Germany conference

Attend this full-day class with Cornelia Enning, Angelina Martinez Miranda 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.

Take a full-day class on midwifery issues and skills

Harrisburg conferenceYour teachers will be Carol Gautschi, Gail Hart, Fernando Molina, Sister MorningStar and Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos. Topics covered include fact and fiction in midwifery and obstetrics, pelvimetry, village prenatals and complications of birth.

Learn more about the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, conference.

Editor’s Corner

Favorite Thing about Being a Midwife

Note: This week’s guest editorial is by midwife Mary Bernabe.

My favorite part about being a midwife is getting to know the real woman during labor and birth. We put on our faces for the world, but in labor we can’t do this. We show our true selves. Labor is hard work and it strips away all the unnecessary stuff that we think is so important, and the true person comes out. Women are strong and fierce in their love for their babies and families. Encouraging words, a cool washcloth on a sweaty face—these are the things I love to provide. The look of surprise and absolute wonder on a woman’s face when she pushes out that baby and sees it for the first time makes my heart a little fuller each time because God is so good and His design is so wondrous, and not just the dynamics of the process but the emotions of it, too. The “I can’t do this” changes to “Oh my gosh, we did it!” I’ve helped bikers, hippies, crunchy moms, homeless moms, and women from many countries and nationalities, educated and not, and I’m here to tell you that we are more alike than we are different, especially during birth.

— Mary Bernabe is a wife and mom who helps catch babies at home. She has attended births in teepees, in buses, in her van, after traveling in the night through two feet of fresh snow, outside in the woods and in homes with no running water or electricity. Mary has 11 kids at home—10 boys, 1 girl. Her husband is a pastor.

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Conference Chatter

Our conference in Germany is coming along wonderfully. There are people from many countries and continents coming. We are very excited to have some dear women coming from China. Hakan Çoker is a physician from Turkey who is coming with a nice delegation of birth change agents from his country.

It is very exciting for the Midwifery Today conference teachers to spread the words of great birth around the world.

Besides many registrants coming from different countries, we have teachers who come from all parts of the globe. Fernando Molina is a physician-midwife and a phenomenal teacher who comes from Venezuela and was born in Bolivia. I had the privilege of traveling with him to a conference we did in Russia this year, and I learned so much from him. I know you will, too! Angelina Martinez Miranda from Mexico will join us and teach wonderful rebozo and massage techniques. I always appreciate learning from her. Cornelia Enning from Germany will be on hand to teach placenta medicine and waterbirth. Robin Lim from Indonesia will be there with her dynamic way of teaching. You will meet these teachers and many more.

I am looking forward to this amazing event and hope to see some of you there. Please be sure to introduce yourself!

— Jan Tritten, mother of Midwifery Today

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Featured Article

Birth in India: An Update

The culture of birth in India is shifting, especially in the suburban and urban areas. One mother recently shared how two generations ago there were no questions surrounding birth. Birth was simply a life event and women did not question their ability to birth. Now, however, women’s beliefs in their ability to birth have changed.

Choice and information add different equations into the modern Indian woman’s decision-making process. Birth outcome is heavily dependent on choices made about where to give birth and with whom. Women happily post on social media that they had a natural birth, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty details, that “natural” experience actually involved an epidural, Pitocin, an episiotomy, a vacuum extraction and fundal pressure. These births disempower women and cause birth trauma, which often goes undiscussed. Family and friends unhelpfully say, “Focus on your healthy baby and be grateful.”

This birth culture is artificially aggravated by the quality of care (or lack thereof) from the moment one gets pregnant. The mother is told to go to a doctor the moment she conceives. There she waits for sometimes up to four hours to see the doctor, who really does not see her—she is merely a pregnant belly that needs to be scanned. If the gestational period (calculated by the last menstrual period) and what is seen on the scan do not match, the mother is told to take medications to strengthen her pregnancy, which usually consists of oral or vaginal progesterone, along with B-HcG injections. The pregnant mother then gets a repeat scan in a week to 10 days. From here on, the mother thinks that her pregnancy can only be carried forward with medications, rest and the doctor’s instructions. She is so far removed from connecting with her body and her baby that the same mindset then carries on into the birth of her baby, with the doctor directing the whole process.

Women and their partners are waking up to this reality and starting to make important decisions, some of which include changing care providers and signing waivers of consent to do things how they would prefer. Unfortunately, there remain many protocols in hospitals that work against the physiology of birth and the natural instinct that a mother has: to get up from the bed, to move, to push on her own and to cuddle her baby skin-to-skin after birth. In order for birth to improve, education needs to happen in the prenatal period. It is also important that women and men deal with their fears surrounding birth and plan for adequate support through the birth and postpartum time.

Women who have had pleasurable and undisturbed births (often at home) are the ones that make comments like, “I am considering having another baby because I enjoyed pregnancy and the birth so much!” For some women it is an empowering and life-changing event with the highs of accomplishment. We have had VBAC mothers say, “This is the first real accomplishment I have had in 30 years!” And, “I already have two babies, but would have another one just for the experience!” For others it can be a traumatic experience with unexpected events where they felt out of control, violated or without a choice.

Support through the pregnancy, birth and postpartum can make a huge difference in all these outcomes. Women feel better when supported well.

Lina Duncan and Vijaya Krishnan
Excerpted from “Birth in India: An Update,” Midwifery Today, Issue 112
View table of contents / Order the back issue

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Country Contact Question of the Quarter

Editor’s Note: Midwifery Today is interested in promoting international networking among childbirth practitioners. Our goal is to strengthen the international community by establishing a country contact in every country of the world. If you would like to become a country contact, please e-mail Jan Tritten. Learn more about Country Contacts here.

For this international edition of E-News, we asked Midwifery Today’s country contacts the following question:

In what areas of birth do you feel midwives in your country need to know more?


Midwives call themselves specialist nurses and are focused on birth in a hospital. They want to know more about care for women that want to give birth naturally instead of being pushed through the medical model of care. Finally they see that the word midwife means something else.

Recently, there was a course for primary care midwives and over 50 midwives attended. More and more midwives support women outside of hospital. This year the first family birth center will open its doors.

— Mary Zwart


Midwives in Kenya need more training on respectful maternity care. Women have largely blamed the attitude of midwives as a deterrent to skilled care. However, the government needs to invest more in midwives and improve work environments so that midwives can work in an enabling environment.

— Benson Milimo


We don’t have autonomous midwifery in Egypt, but we are looking for nurse midwives, or Ob nurses as we call them, to know more about fetal positioning and balancing. They need to be encouraged to support mothers in a more natural way.

— Hanaa abou El Kassem


Midwives in Ghana need to learn a lot. We need to share experiences with midwives from other cultures, so we can learn from each other. But most especially, we need to know more about effective communication with mothers and their families and how to treat each mother differently. We also need to know more on how to make birth more natural. With the transformation of birth from the home to hospital, midwives have lost the naturalness of birth and are now more in tune with medicalization of birth. This is really a sad thing, as most mothers even feel hospital birth is the best.

Midwives need to understand that the woman should have a say in her birth. Most midwives think they are the ones in charge of the birth, and most often women are not involved in their own birth.

I have plans underway to start a radio program to educate the populace, especially mothers and parents, on childbirth and parenting issues. I will need some support from Midwifery Today in the form of information from time to time depending on the topic to be discussed.

— Abena Okra


I am happy to inform you that under the banner of Academy of Nursing Studies, Women Empowerment and Research (ANSWERS), we have held the National Convention of Auxiliary Nurse and Midwife (ANM) at New Delhi in July 2015. The main objective of the convention was to empower the ANMs as they are the dedicated maternal and child health care providers. It was attended by 1600 ANMs from all the states of India.

The ANMs are now trained in the skills that are necessary for attending a woman in labor at any time of the day or night, and they are empowered to be able to meet all the emergencies related to childbirth and newborn care, such as use of certain drugs to control PPH, eclampsia, etc. The latest news in India is that the midwives will be trained by National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) to conduct a test to make preliminary diagnoses to detect HIV/AIDS in pregnant women to prevent mother-to-child transmission at the very start of pregnancy.

— Uma Handa

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Featured Products

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Can tears be prevented?

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Give the gift of information

MT online store 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! To order

Gain a fresh insight into the amazing journey each woman takes in becoming a mother

MT online store The Big Stretch DVD presents women in different stages of pregnancy as they prepare for a natural birth and reflect with their partners on how they are “stretched” in every way—emotionally, physically and spiritually. Topics explored include breath awareness, pain and the intensity of birth, body awareness, relationship and personal transformation, asking for help and women’s challenges. To order

Read about First Stage

MT online store Download this e-book and you’ll receive a collection of 10 articles taken from past issues of Midwifery Today magazine. Articles include “First Stage: Preparing the Fetus Ejection Reflex” by Michel Odent, “The Times and Tools of Induction” by Sister MorningStar, “Nourishing the Mother” by Anne Frye and “Like Cures Like: Homeopathy for Labor and Birth” by Diane Gregg. Available on Amazon or on Smashwords in a variety of formats.

Website Update

YouTube Come To Conference1Visit the Midwifery Today YouTube Channel

Please check out this YouTube video, part of our Birth Essentials series:
Come to Conference! ~ Euphoria in Eugene (2009)
Come to a Midwifery Today Conference! After studying hard in workshops for several days, attendees at the 2009 conference in Eugene, Oregon, dance enthusiastically to the exciting sounds of Zimbabwean marimba music played by Jenaguru Full Moon marimba ensemble. "We work hard ~ we play hard!" Come to conference!

Click here to view video. (You may wish to download the video first and then view it without streaming interruption.)

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