October 28, 2015
Volume 17, Issue 22
Midwifery Today E-News
“Fathers”
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See what it’s like to give birth naturally

MT storeWhen you watch the Birth of a Family DVD you’ll see the relaxed, joyous births of Christina and Nielsen van Duijn’s four children. This family shares these intimate moments so that others could be inspired by their experiences. Birth of a Family will help women learn about their choices and options so that they may experience a healthy joyous journey through pregnancy into birth and motherhood. To order



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Quote of the Week

Son, brother, father, lover, friend. There is room in the heart for all the affections, as there is room in heaven for all the stars.

Victor Hugo


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.

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Editor’s Corner

A Probiotic Life

[Editor’s note: This issue’s guest editor is Toni Harman.]

In two weeks, we’ll be heading to the United States to film some inspiring and life-changing human stories for our new feature documentary, A Probiotic Life (working title).

One of the people we’ll be meeting is a clinical professor of medicine who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 15 years ago. As her condition worsened, she was confined to a wheelchair and she feared she was destined to be bedridden for the rest of her life unless she took control of her disease. After extensive research, she started making simple changes to her diet and lifestyle that were more microbiome-friendly. Not only did she regain her health, but she is now out of her wheelchair and cycling to work each day where she is helping others with autoimmune and neurological conditions to do the same.

We will also be meeting other people with incredible and inspiring stories who have helped themselves or their loved ones to take control of their diseases through similar simple changes to their diet and lifestyle. And they couldn’t be more excited about sharing their experiences so that they, too, may help others who are suffering right now all around the world.

But, most importantly of all, it’s all about the children. This new film will pick up from where Microbirth left off and show why it is essential that our babies and young children come into contact with the right bacteria from the moment of birth to ensure their immune systems mature appropriately, giving them the best opportunity for a lifetime of health.

Our new film will show the simple things we can all do from birth to be more microbiome-friendly. Through making this film, we want to change the way people think about themselves and about their health and to inspire everyone to start making the simple changes in their own lives for the best possible health.

But we urgently need to raise the money to finish the film. One way to do this is to register for our “Rest for a Cause” fundraising challenge that started on October 13, 2015.

This is an initiative set up by Bold Tranquility, which is devoted to helping women help themselves through the power of yoga nidra, a sleep-based meditation technique. Getting enough rest is very important in maintaining a healthy microbiome. We’ll be covering this in the film!

Once you register, you’ll receive a free 15-minute meditation every day for 21 days. You can even ask your friends to sponsor you to complete the challenge, and then any money raised goes to the direct costs of making our film. Plus, you’ll benefit from getting more sleep and feeling well-rested. You don’t need to raise sponsorship, but it would help us get this film made if you do! So it’s a win-win situation!

So please join us by going here and clicking on “Join Us.”

You can join in any time after the start date and benefit from the meditations.

Many thanks again for all your support. We look forward to you joining us on this amazing journey to better health not only for ourselves, but for our children, too!

— Toni Harman is a film producer and director. info@altofilms.com

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Featured Article

Sharks and VBACs: The Fears of a Father

I would like to talk about fear and phobias, specifically the fear of sharks. Sharks scare me. As a child, they scared me so much that I developed a phobia of any body of water where I couldn’t see the bottom. I’m a grown man of over 30 now, but dark and foreboding waters still strike me motionless. It takes a good 15 minutes of pep talk to ready me for a swim in a pond.

Fear and phobias by definition are irrational. It would make absolutely no difference if a scientist in a white coat came up to me and said, “Tony, I can assure you that a great white shark cannot survive in a pond.” In the logical part of my mind, I know there are no monsters lurking in that man-made hole in the ground. In another part of my mind, however, science could be wrong this one time, and some mutant great-white shark/salamander hybrid could rise from its dormancy in that blue-green pool of death and bite me in half.

Everyone experiences fear. Furthermore, everyone fears different things, and these fears can lead to difficulties.

I spend a lot of time reading about fathers and birth. My wife asked me to relate my thoughts on fear and phobias to the role of fathers in the birth process, specifically regarding VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean). Her request seemed like a good chance to do something useful with my research and possibly help people who are indeed struggling with a serious situation.

My wife’s first VBAC was with the birth of my first child. Since fathers who have fears or doubts about their wife’s VBAC most likely have experienced a prior c-section, my situation was a bit different. I believe that the mother should have freedom to choose the type of birth she wants, and then it is up to the father to decide what part he is to play in her choice. I completely trusted my wife’s decision for a VBAC. Once the decision was made, I had to ask myself if I had any fears or doubts and specifically what they were.

My fears seemed to be the general fears of a first-time father, not the more specific fears that second- and third-time fathers have. Since my experiences were not sufficient enough to draw any logic shattering conclusions, I started researching fathers’ fears, about VBACs specifically.

The first observation I made was that fathers’ fears of danger during a VBAC are not related to where the birth takes place, be it home or hospital. The most common fear is that a uterine rupture will occur. This is when the uterus tears or breaks open, which can possibly lead to the death of the mother and/or baby.

Here are some statistics: In the US the actual cesarean rate hovers around 33%, depending on which part of the country you live in. After a mother has a c-section, uterine rupture is the most commonly cited risk by most physicians concerning VBACs. Of the women who choose VBAC, 0.4–1.9% (numbers may vary a bit) of those have a chance of uterine rupture, and only 6% of those 0.4 to 1.9% possible ruptures can be potentially fatal to the mother or child. There is some math here that tells me the chances for death in a VBAC are pretty small when I consider its most prevalent risk factor. I could even cite studies that show that the increased risk of infection from a repeat cesarean can have a higher rate of fatality than complications from a VBAC.

Tony Whitman
Excerpted from “Sharks and VBACs: The Fears of a Father,” Midwifery Today, Issue 103
View table of contents / Order the back issue


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Website Update

Read this article excerpt from the Autumn 2015 issue of Midwifery Today magazine, now on our website:

  • The Birthing Pool Test—by Michel Odent

    Excerpt: “Finally, we are reaching a phase in the history of midwifery and obstetrical practices when an in-labor non-emergency cesarean appears in many cases as the best alternative to drugless childbirth. In such a context, we understand the need for a new generation of tests in order to decide early enough during labor that the vaginal route is acceptable, without waiting for the phase of real emergency ….”


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Birth Q&A

Q: How do you incorporate fathers into your birth practice?

— Midwifery Today

A: I love working with families! I always try to help the dad be in my role, if possible. I show him how to help his partner, and I help support him, too. I can’t tell you how many dads have thanked me, profusely, after the birth of their babies, while walking me to my car. It’s an amazing experience for all.

— Stephanie Lee Butler

A: I was discussing this with someone today. This is very cultural and totally depends on the comfort levels of both parents. I work with many Muslim and African couples and with many (but not all), it is culturally inappropriate to involve the husband.

— Ruth Ehrhardt

A: I try to make sure the dad is there for the first prenatal visit. I speak to him directly during visits and make sure he has my number in his phone. At the birth, I make sure to say things like, “Your birth, your baby” in reference to the dad. I call him “Dad” throughout. I ask him what he would like or would like to do as often as possible. Make sure to get pics with him included. Go over postpartum instructions with him; dads matter, and doing all of these things seems to let them open up and feel appreciated.

— Barb Tallon Cavanaugh

A: I tell him that I am his midwife, too, and that he is also pregnant, birthing and nursing. I remind him that no one, not the mother, sister, doula or midwife, will bring his partner or child more peace and grounding than he will. His role for birth is what he feels at the moment and it’s all good. There is no right or wrong way to birth a family.

— Celesta Rannisi

A: Dads are essential to my practice. It’s a powerful moment to see a dad comprehend the importance of birth and engage in a way that says to the mom, “I’m here and I believe in you.” You see it translate into her birth and in her power and definitely in her endorphin and oxytocin levels. Whatever the dad’s level of physical involvement, if he is informed and supportive of the mom, she carries that belief with her. I do Daddy Boot-camps for just this reason. And let’s not forget how important that belief is for postpartum!

— Molly Patterson


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