|January 6, 2016|
Volume 18, Issue 1
|Midwifery Today E-News|
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In This Week’s Issue
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Quote of the Week
I make milk. What’s your superpower?
— Hopefully said by moms everywhere
The Art of Midwifery
Efforts to educate about the benefits of breastfeeding and to present breastfeeding as an activity that is normative and desirable within the parameters of an individual’s identity must be directed much more widely than to prospective mothers. Such efforts should include prospective fathers, grandparents and, indeed, the public in general. It will be necessary to go well beyond education regarding benefits of breastfeeding to include public service campaigns to present breastfeeding as compatible with the identity of young, single women and to present breastfeeding as having the approval of husbands or partners in order to normalize the use of the breast to feed a child.
Midwifery Today Conferences
Learn about Waterbirth around the World with Barbara Harper
During the past 30 years Barbara has taught or researched on the use of water immersion for labor and birth in over 50 countries. This session is a travelogue of hospitals, birth centers and homes in places like China, India, Mexico, Malaysia, Turkey, Russia, England and more. She will also discuss the most current research, physiology and protocols on waterbirth. Her presentation is visually stunning and packed with information.
Attend a full-day Midwifery Skills class at our conference in Fiji
Your teachers will be Carol Gautschi (pictured), Gail Hart, Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos and Suzanne Thomson. Topics covered include Prenatal Care for Best Outcomes, Normal Physiological Birth, The First Hour of Life and Complications of Birth. Plan now to attend!
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[The following guest editorial is by Barbara Rivera.]
Finding Empowerment through Homebirth
The homebirth of my first baby was the most profound thing that has ever happened to me. I not only gained immense power from the act of birthing my baby, but that act was the foundation of how I mothered. I realized that I did not have to swallow the things I thought wrong in this society and I did not have to surrender my child to it either.
Although no one around me (except my husband) agreed, I was able to break free of other people’s expectations and choose a different path. I realized that my whole life, along with the nurturing of my family, could be an act of creation rather than a struggle to just survive (as I had done in the past).
What is more, I felt within me an overwhelming urge to share about my experience of birth—glorious, addictive and empowering! I could not shut up. I can’t not share what I know about birth; it is a profound rite of passage, something sacred and profound. This event not only makes humans, but it makes mothers and fathers. It makes humanity.
I am an activist because I can’t not be. If I stop sharing this truth, I get sick. I have come to realize that this is the expression of the Divine Feminine, which is in each one of us females.
As every woman re-members this, we heal Mother Earth and her children from the disconnection that is destroying the earth through a dis-eased humanity.
Our mother is our first relationship, then our family, then the local community and then the world. By healing birth, we heal our Mother Earth.
— Barbara Rivera is an activist who founded the organization Empowered Birth.
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.
Conferences in 2016
I wish each of you a Happy New Year, and I hope this is a year we will move mountains in changing birth practices. In addition to providing our print magazine, the way Midwifery Today works toward this is in putting on great educational and inspiring conferences. Here’s a testimonial from one of the attendees at our recent international conference:
Our next conference will be in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. If you haven’t signed up yet, there is still time to save money if you register by February 1, 2016.
We also have a conference in Suva, Fiji, which promises to be an amazing event for the South Seas area. This conference is happening 20–24 June 2016, with the theme, “Celebrating Love from the Beginning.”
Our third conference for 2016 will be in Strasbourg, France, themed “Birth Is a Human Rights Issue.” The dates for this conference are 19–23 October 2016.
— Jan Tritten
Keep up to date with conference news on Facebook:
Breastfeeding Support at Yayasan Bumi Sehat: A Student Midwife’s Reflections
As a fourth-year midwifery student, I had the opportunity to go to Yayasan Bumi Sehat in Nyuh Kuning, Bali. To learn from Ibu Robin Lim and to gain experience in the art of midwifery was a dream come true. For many a budding birthkeeper, attending births, receiving babies and caring for women during childbirth are the most appealing areas of midwifery practice; indeed, inside the birth room, one masters essential midwifery skills. Until only a few days ago, I believed that the birth process marked the birth of the mother. Although birth is a profound rite of passage through the doorway of motherhood, I came to learn that sometimes the true birth of the mother is hallmarked by the mastery of breastfeeding. This insight was gifted to me only a few days ago when I was asked by Ibu Robin to visit one of our new mothers at her home. This is my story.
“Is it normal that my baby is shrinking?” asked the 38-year-old, single Indonesian mother. Alarmed by her question, I explained to her that “shrinking” was not normal or desirable for a baby. I began to probe further into her circumstances. I looked around her home and saw a baby bottle with some milk inside, a breast pump, a sleeping one-week-old baby and a mother who appeared stoic and exhausted. As she explained to me that she was pumping her milk every few hours to feed her baby, I asked her why she wasn’t simply breastfeeding. She told me her baby did not like her breast and preferred the bottle. She explained that her baby had “terms and conditions” and that she would only suckle her breast after she got the bottle. As I questioned a little more, I found that the baby was very jaundiced, dehydrated and appeared somewhat lethargic. Alarm bells started to go off in my head, and I knew that this baby and mama needed help.
After a discussion and consultation with Ibu Robin, we decided it was best for both mama and baby to stay at the clinic in order to test baby’s bilirubin; if we found it to be above normal, we would then initiate blue light therapy (12 hours on, 12 hours off the bili blanket—no separation from mother) to treat the jaundice and to provide around-the-clock breastfeeding support. After some negotiating with the mama, she agreed to come to the clinic so we could treat her baby and support her efforts to establish breastfeeding.
Ibu Robin asked me to “take this challenge” and commit to supporting this mother to fully breastfeed her baby. I reluctantly agreed, knowing from some past experience how difficult provision of breastfeeding support can be. I made the commitment to spend the night with the motherbaby, sleeping next to them in order to provide the encouragement and support needed to get the baby to accept the breast.
Read this editorial by Jan Tritten from the newest issue of Midwifery Today, Winter 2015:
Q: How long did you breastfeed and how was your experience?
— Midwifery Today
A: I breastfed my boy for 18 months until he waved me off one evening without a backward glance and no nighttime feed. It was a hard journey but I will always treasure that connection, and nothing makes me prouder than looking at him and knowing that we are part of each other.
— Nina Van Schaick
A: I breastfed my first for a little over 2.5 years (then I became pregnant); my second was for a little over 3.5 years. Breastfeeding was life changing—that’s really the best explanation. It was emotional with little support in the beginning, but it moved me to become a breastfeeding advocate. I’ve had many struggles, from engorgement to D-MER (dysphoric milk ejection reflex) to now blending herbs for health and teaching healthy birth to support healthy breastfeeding and beyond. It made me who I am today, and although labor can be exhilarating, it is nursing that I will forever miss from the parenting stages—such a special, sweet time that is irreplaceable.
— Danielle Bergum
A: I nursed three babies for a total of 10 years. I loved nursing my babies! What joy that brought our family.
— Jan Tritten
A: Each of my three boys breastfed for 2.5 years during the 70s and early 80s. I was the “weirdo” who breastfed; everyone else in my group of friends bottle-fed. Thank goodness for La Leche League, where I found “my people.”
— Yvonne Alexander Novak
A: I nursed my first for almost one year. I was pregnant again when my first was 7 months old and my milk supply was little to nothing. It was really challenging since I knew breast milk was the best milk, and I wanted to fully develop his immune system and he really didn’t want to stop. But, when my milk came back in, I tandem nursed and my first stopped sometime before age 3 and my daughter breastfed for exactly two years. My experience breastfeeding was mostly great. It was an adjustment both times dealing with all the leaking (I had to sleep on a stack of towels and change nursing pads often), and it took a very long time for the leaking to stop. I dealt with mastitis a couple of times and was able to treat it naturally and successfully both times. All in all I really cherished the bonding time when nursing my babies, and I loved gazing into their eyes as they suckled.
— Rosalia Cannava
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