January 20, 2016
Volume 18, Issue 2
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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Quote of the Week

He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.

Arabian Proverb


The Art of Midwifery

It is clear today that to be born is to enter the world of microbes and that, from a bacteriological point of view, a newborn baby ideally needs to be urgently in contact with only one person: her mother. It is also clear that the human mammal has been programmed to enter the world via the bacteriologically rich perineal zone; this is a sort of guarantee that the newborn baby, particularly her digestive tract and her skin, will be immediately contaminated by a great variety of friendly germs carried by her mother.

Michel Odent
Excerpted from “Childbirth from a Bacteriological Perspective,” Midwifery Today, Issue 102
View table of contents / Order the back issue


Midwifery Today Conferences

Harrisburg conferenceTake a full-day class on midwifery issues and skills

Your teachers will be Gail Hart (pictured), Fernando Molina, Carol Gautschi, 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.



Fiji conferenceJoin Suzanne Thomson and Carol Gautschi as they share their knowledge of breech birth

The class will start with a discussion of how to turn a breech baby and what to do if the baby won’t turn. Palpation skills, estimating fetal weight, amniotic fluid, and how to communicate with the baby will also be covered. Frank, footling and complete breech will be discussed, as well as cord prolapse, fetal heart tones, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and other complications of breech presentation.

This full-day Breech Skills workshop is part of our conference in Suva, Fiji, 20–24 June 2016. Learn more..



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Editor’s Corner

Microbiome Hope for the New Year!

I guess I am a bit of an optimist. I keep innocently thinking about how easy it would be for birth practices to change if only the medical establishment knew of this or that, like the benefits to the baby of leaving the cord intact. I just keep figuring that someday these things will get through to people and all will be well for motherbaby.

The new and evolving science of the microbiome is my newest hope that will help change birth practices. In some places, it already has. It is becoming common in many places to leave baby skin to skin with mom. Our local hospital is an example of this. (Now they just need to lower the induction and cesarean rate!) Natural birth is looking more and more important and homebirth is looking even better for the healthiest possible microbiome. Let’s all spread the news of how important this is to the health of the individual and to the health of our society. Home is where the heart is, and it is also where the best microbiome is!

Toward better birth!

— 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

Midwifery Today Mini-Conference Retreat on February 29, 2016

McMenEdge_hotpool_300 (19K)Leap into spring with the Midwifery Today Mini-Conference Retreat on Leap Day at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale, Oregon (15 minutes from the Portland airport). All birth practitioners are invited to come renew, retreat and rejuvenate and eat together with your peers for an amazing time where you can also garner CEUs. Rediscover your joy in midwifery!

Registration is easy and available now with our online form. Come learn about these topics: Birth and the Human Future, Prematurity, Hemorrhage, Massage for Labor and Birth, Craniosacral Therapy, and more. Spending a night or two is the best option, plus you can hang out with Gail Hart, Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos, Marion Toepke McLean, Fernando Molina, Carol Gray, Hermine Hayes-Klein and me as we get ready for this amazing event and do our Tricks of the Trade in the gorgeous soaking pools at McMenamins (weather permitting, of course—it is Oregon!).

The registration price for the day is $95 before February 10 and $110 after. Student price is $75 by February 10 and $85 after. (You must provide proof of student status.) The price includes lunch. You need to pre-register by February 24 to be assured of lunch, but walk-ins are always welcome.

— Jan Tritten

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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 amount of interventions that occur 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. [Awareness of] human rights in childbirth is 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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Learn how sexual abuse affects women during pregnancy and childbirth and what you can do to help.

MT store Survivor 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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Birth Q&A

Q: Midwives and doulas, what do you want mothers to know about the microbiome? Do you think this knowledge is something that can change birth practices in the hospital?

— Midwifery Today

A: I want moms to know that the microbiome is everything. From conception (the mother’s microbiome matters) to 12–24 months the infant’s microbiome is being established.

— Lindsey Mathews

A: The microbiome is the foundation of a healthy functioning digestive and immune system. It is essential for good health. In an ideal world, it starts preconception. I spent years healing my gut and improving my own microbiome before conceiving my daughter. It was so important to me to give her the strongest start in this area. It starts way before birth.

— Crystal Di Domizio

A: Even back when I was an LLL Leader in the 70s and 80s we were told to tell women to put nothing into their baby’s mouth but the breast and breast milk for at least 3–6 months in order to keep the delicate intestinal balance exactly how it’s supposed to be. We didn’t know the word microbiome, we just knew that it was important for health to not introduce foods, herbs, medicines, gripe water, etc., into a baby’s digestive tract.

— Margie Dacko

A: Humans need to understand that birth is a complex biological process. You need to respect it.

— Deb Puterbaugh

A: As a biologist, I believe the knowledge of the microbiome is extremely important not only for medical personnel but above all for the new parents. The microbiome influences our health, thus the parents should be informed about it to be able to make the best possible informed decisions for their babies.

— Spela P. Peternel

A: It’s the reason homebirth is best.

— Gail Tully

A: I think that if parents, care providers and hospitals knew about the importance of the microbiome, practices such as antibiotics during labor, medically unnecessary cesareans, and supplementing with anything other than breast milk in the first six months would be taken far more seriously.

— Crystal Di Domizio


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