September 16, 2015
Volume 17, Issue 19
Midwifery Today E-News
“Birth Is a Human Rights Issue”
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In This Week’s Issue



Discover how sexual abuse affects women during pregnancy and childbirth and what you can do to help.

MT online storeSurvivor Moms: Women’s Stories of Birthing, Mothering and Healing after Sexual Abuse was written to help break down the isolation pregnant women and their caregivers often feel—as though they were the only ones having to cope with these challenges. You’ll be able to read excerpts from 81 women’s stories of birthing, mothering and healing after childhood sexual abuse. The book also includes some complete narratives, discussion of implications of women’s experiences for their care, suggestions for working together during maternity care and beyond, resources to consult, and information from current research. Suitable for both caregivers and pregnant survivors, Survivor Moms will help anyone whose life has been touched by sexual abuse. Published by Motherbaby Press, an imprint of Midwifery Today. To order



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Quote of the Week

To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.

Nelson Mandela


The Art of Midwifery

All women are fully human and deserving of respect and dignity. When we think about our sisters in sub-Saharan Africa or Southeast Asia, we may not know how endangered they still are in childbirth and how few real choices they have. It has been said that, in developing countries, the most dangerous occupation is motherhood. Ethical people have a duty to act on human rights violations, once those violations have been made known.

Vicki Penwell
Excerpted from “A Hidden Tragedy: Birth as a Human Rights Issue in Developing Countries,” Midwifery Today, Issue 94
View table of contents / Order the back issue


Germany conferenceAngelina Martinez Miranda discusses Mexican Traditions and Techniques

This full-day class covers positioning, remedies and customs from Mexico, simple techniques that promote healthy pregnancy and birth. You will learn how to use a rebozo, a very useful tool in all parts of the childbearing cycle. Plus you will practice what you are learning under Angelina’s watchful guidance.

Learn more about the Bad Wildbad, Germany, conference.



What are alternative remedies for birth?

Harrisburg conferenceLearn about herbs, homeopathics and other natural remedies in pregnancy, birth and postpartum from Diane Goslin and Janice Marsh-Prelesnik. They will also explain practical uses of these remedies for your clients’ ailments and complications.

This full-day class is part of our conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, April 2016..



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Editor’s Corner

Birth Is a Human Rights Issue

The issue of human rights is so important that we decided to do another conference dedicated to this topic in Strasbourg, France. It is sad that in the five years since we have done our previous conference in Strasbourg, things have not changed much globally. The 2010 conference program had these words printed on it: “Every mother and baby has the right to be treated with reverence and respect during the birth process, including pregnancy and beyond.” All we need to do is apply that phrase to childbirth throughout the world and ascertain how we are doing. We are not doing very well, so let us come together to attend great classes, learn from teachers and from each other, discuss the issue and revitalize our plans to change the world.

From the Global Midwifery Council statement are these important words: “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.” Our conference will address these important issues and make plans to change the future of childbirth around the world.

Hermine Hayes-Klein, a lawyer who has taken this issue around the world in many conferences including some attached to Midwifery Today, will be one of our esteemed speakers. Her work focuses on legal issues surrounding childbirth and includes the defense of midwives. Other teachers include Gail Hart, Fernando Molina, Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos, Verena Schmid, Diane Goslin, Cornelia Enning, Carol Gautschi and myself.

Mark your calendar! The dates are 19–23 October 2016.

— 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

Fun Events Planned for the Germany Conference

Here are some highlights that will be happening at the Germany conference:

Tuesday afternoon, 20 October: Everyone is invited to ride the cable car on the hill and walk on the very new attraction of Bad Wildbad, an elevated walking path: http://www.baumwipfelpfad-schwarzwald.de/schwarzwald/ (Cost: 11 €)

Friday morning, 23 October: Bad Wildbad’s mayor, Klaus Mack, will be at the conference to welcome all of the attendees.

Friday night: Whoever would like to join can come to the traditional meal at the Wildbader Hof. Afterwards, we will walk to the cozy little church in the Kurpark for a little surprise. Later on in the night, there will be a wonderful concert with dance in the Kurhaus with the musical group Stadtkapelle Wildbad. (Dinner will cost around 7–9 €.)

Saturday night, 24 October: Midwifery Today’s Cabaret! Bring your play, song, poem or comedy routine to share for a fun evening!

— Jan Tritten, mother of Midwifery Today

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Featured Article

The Issue of Birth Rights

Birth is biological. At its most fundamental level, it is an animal rights issue. When I was working in Mexico, I was not surprised when, following a birth, a grandmother asked me, “How is the mother?” But when she endearingly asked, “Y la creatura?” (“And the little creature?”), I stopped in my step. Something powerful and deeply instinctual came alive in me. I had watched wild and farm animals bond, nurse and protect their young. I had observed and studied the importance of maternal-infant bonding from a professional viewpoint. I had dedicated my midwifery career to keeping one of my thousand eyes on everything from environment to timing to security to states of mind and heart and soul—anything that had the potential of affecting or shaping those first glances and touch and moments of irreplaceable connection between the mother and her fresh born. Nothing had set things more clear and right in my mind as that grandmother’s simple and urgent question regarding her “hope of the future”—”Y la creatura?”

We are creatures. We are animals. It is not a bad or lowly thing to be. It allows us to eat and poop and get in out of the cold and enjoy mating and flee danger. We embody an instinct that is backed by millions of years of invested intelligence. It certainly includes birth. It most certainly includes birth.

Who thought of holding legs above a pelvis with stirrups or shaving pubic hair to help create a sterile field or inserting enemas for cleanliness or providing strangers for companions? Certainly not creature mothers and babies. They would kick and bite and run for the hills. They wouldn’t need to consult books or experts. Their instinctual knowing only takes a second to be consulted. The answer and response is automatic. It takes force, mighty force, to restrain an instinctual animal in the moment of performing a bodily function, especially birth. Have we successfully used intellectual fear to overpower the instinctual fear of a birthing human, so she will now submit to actions that otherwise would make her bite and kick and run for the hills?

Sister MorningStar
Excerpted from “The Issue of Birth Rights,” Midwifery Today, Issue 94
View table of contents / Order the back issue


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Read about the third stage of labor!

MT store The Third Stage of Labor e-book is packed with information about the umbilical cord, the placenta and natural approaches to this phase of birth. This collection of 15 articles from past issues of Midwifery Today magazine includes “Placenta Accreta” by Marion Toepke McLean, “Cord Burning” by Kelly Dunn, “On Meconium at Home and Delayed Cord-cutting” by Naolí Vinaver, “Placenta Rituals and Folklore from Around the World” by Sarah J. Buckley and “The Problem Is Induction, Not Meconium” by Gail Hart. Buy your copy and have it with you at the next birth you attend! Available on Amazon or on Smashwords in a variety of formats.



Fill Your Birth Library with Midwifery Today Back Issues

MT online store Each quarterly issue of Midwifery Today magazine is packed full of birth news, insights and information. You’ll also get an in-depth look at an important topic, with several articles devoted to the issue theme. Look over the list of available issues, then order the ones you need to help improve your practice. To order



Discover how you can have a safe, gentle birth

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Want the whole story?

MT store Subscribe to Midwifery Today 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, the print magazine. To order



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Website Update

The table of contents is now online to show you what’s in the beautiful new Autumn issue of Midwifery Today magazine. View it here.


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Birth Q&A

Q: Do you think human rights in childbirth is an important topic?

— Midwifery Today

A: Yes, because there is more than one road to “live mother, live baby,” and the road to that end result can either respect or violate the human rights of the woman giving birth...and her baby! Thank you, Jan, and Midwifery Today for all the years of service that you have given to elevating the treatment and human rights of mothers and babies.

— Hermine Hayes-Klein

A: There is nothing more degrading to a woman than not to be in control of her own birth.

— RoxiBella Trent

A: I think human rights in childbirth is probably one of the essential movements of this time period in history. The respect we give to women and the respect we give to the newborn baby set the tone and set the norm for treatment after birth. It is time to raise the bar! It is time to honor and respect women and their choices in birth and to honor and respect the newborn baby as a sensitive mind whose impressions of birth and memory of the experience can affect him throughout his lifetime.

Women will often tell us that the experience of birth changed them for better or for worse. And one of the strongest influences on their experience is their sense of control or lack of control—their feeling of being respected or of disrespect.

As the financial structure changes, and new technologies arise, we are in danger of losing much of what makes us human. Birth is the one things that humans do, and how women give birth has an impact on society as a whole. If we accord women the respect they deserve, it will remain a positive influence on the family and can be a force for positive social change.

That slogan from the 60s still stands true: “Peace on earth begins with birth.”

— Gail Hart

A: Yes, I do. I write about it often. I have been moved by it so much in my medical studies, having been witness to such abuse by so many of whom I was inferior to and dependent on to sign log books! The way we treat moms and babies in pregnancy and birth becomes their blueprint for how they expect to experience life, how they expect to be received and treated, how they interact with energies. This time is such a powerful time to make positive imprints and change. Yet, it is being so adulterated. That is why we need more and more gentle birth practitioners who understand this. My gentle, conscious birth changed my perspective and enlightened me deeply on the importance of this time.

— Gauri Abbi Lowe

A: Yes, I do. Providing an environment and a model of care that facilitates the woman as the decision maker and provides information and consent along with kindness, dignity and respect, are all essential ingredients to a birth going as it should. A mother who feels safe and supported, and has a voice, is likely to have fewer complications and birth her baby in a loving and welcoming environment, hence benefitting her emotional well-being. The baby will not receive stress hormones and will feel welcome. Attachment and bonding are a natural progression to such a birthing experience, and the transition to parenthood without trauma will only enhance the motherbaby dyad. Sadly, only a small percentage of women are experiencing such opportune conditions. Millions of babies are born into harsh, frightening conditions, where women are controlled, silenced, abused, afraid and bullied. Separation of mother and baby usually occurs after births like this; negative emotions and higher incidences of postpartum depression are likely to follow, along with possible long-term physical and emotional effects. Look at the state of our world today! As Gail said, it’s time to raise the bar. It’s time to create simple and doable birth practices that bring love back into the framework of birthing babies.

— Lina Duncan


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