March 16, 2016
Volume 18, Issue 6
Midwifery Today E-News
“International Issue”
Print Page

In This Week’s Issue

Bask in the beauty of six good births

MT online storeFive Countries, Six Births, Seven Babies showcases homebirths in Guatemala, Costa Rica, France, the USA and Bermuda. Filmed between 1994 and 2010, this DVD’s powerful images of mothers and babies can inspire a woman to learn to embrace birth as a joyful experience. It definitely belongs on any birth professional’s media shelf. To order

Quote of the Week

Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.


The Art of Midwifery

There is, in my experience of birthing five times and receiving thousands of babies into the world, a big difference between the challenging strength of childbirth contractions/waves/rushes and suffering. Suffering happens when mothers are not supported, not well nourished, not respected and not loved within the context of pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Please remember: Love is the nutrient that causes our cells to obtain the nutrition we need when we eat, drink and live.

Robin Lim
Excerpted from “When Pregnancy Goes South: Keeping Birth Gentle,” Midwifery Today, Issue 113
View table of contents / Order the back issue

Midwifery Today Conferences

Harrisburg conferenceLearn 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.

Learn more about the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, conference.

Learn about midwifery in the South Pacific

Fiji conferenceWhen you attend this full-day class you will be involved in a discussion of the best practices and organizational methods of midwifery and birth for the South Seas. What is the way to bring the best evidence-based practices to the islands?

Learn more about the Suva, Fiji, conference.

Midwifery Today E-News is just the beginning.

Subscribe to Midwifery Today, our print magazine, and you’ll receive 72-pages of midwifery information four times a year. Subscribe here.

Editor’s Corner

Toward Better Birth

From the inception of Midwifery Today, we have been interested in covering international issues. Babies are born all over the world, and we at Midwifery Today are interested in helping all of them to be born into loving hands—of midwives, doctors, moms and dads. The keywords here are loving hands!

I like that Jeannine Parvati Baker coined the phrase “Peace on Earth begins with birth.” It isn’t just peace on Earth but peace within each one of us. And as we are now learning, it begins at conception or before. There is great new information out on the microbiome, epigenetics and communication with your unborn baby.

As imperialism spread throughout the world, bad birth practices were disseminated. Lithotomy position for delivery, episiotomies and disrespect for motherbaby became the norm in cultures where these practices had been unheard of. I started the magazine International Midwife, which is now incorporated into Midwifery Today, to try to give back some of what Western medicine had stolen from indigenous birth practices. With conferences and information exchanges happening on so many levels now, we are actively trying to understand what is best for motherbaby the world over. We can do this hand in hand across the globe as we work together to help make gentle birth available to every mother, baby and family.

Once a quarter we ask our country contacts about a birth-related topic. Read below!

— 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

Conference Updates

GerebAgnes222 (20K)We are so excited that Ágnes Geréb (pictured) has been given permission to travel, and we will be having her teach with us at our conference in Strasbourg, France. It is so appropriate because the theme is “Birth Is a Human Rights Issue.” As most of you know, Ágnes was imprisoned for serving women as a homebirth midwife in Hungary. We are having the conference in Strasbourg because it has the Human Rights Court for the European Union. Come join us and listen to Ágnes’s story firsthand. She will be speaking in the preconference with Hermine Hayes-Klein, and throughout the conference.

We also have an announcement regarding our Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, conference next month. Artist Amanda Greavette will join us and display her beautiful artwork. Even if you cannot come to the conference as a registrant, do stop by to see her art in the pre-function area!

— Jan Tritten

Keep up to date with conference news on Facebook:

Featured Article

Prematurity and Kangaroo Care during a Disaster

After Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda slammed into our central islands here in the Philippines last November, I saw a picture in the local paper of several newborn premature babies all wrapped in plastic bags and set on a counter in a broken-down chapel of a hospital. I knew in that instant that if only we could get down there to provide, and teach others to provide, good midwifery care, including the very simple and totally free concept of “kangaroo care” for the preemies, we could save many lives.

For many years, I have been teaching Disaster Preparedness and Response, which is no surprise since I live in a country with the most natural disasters of almost any…country. (The Philippines regularly is in the top three countries each year with the most natural disasters and the most deaths from natural disasters.) We have earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, mudslides, typhoons and super typhoons, and we have very little ability as a country to cope with, or mitigate, large-scale disasters, which was the case when the largest storm to ever make landfall occurred on November 8, 2013.

There are two things we know about disasters:

  1. Disasters tend to cause premature labors, due to the stress they put on pregnant women in the vicinity when the disaster strikes. This unfortunately creates a situation where premature births are happening under the worst of circumstances—during a typhoon, flood, blizzard, earthquake or an act of terrorism.
  2. Access to hospitals, NICUs and advanced medical care is often severely blocked, limited or totally destroyed in a natural or man-made disaster zone.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that there are a few simple, easy solutions to this problem. It will require midwives all over the world, including in the US, to be prepared to address the problem of premature deliveries following any disaster.

Current best practice for prematurity, to prevent mortality and morbidity, dictates two things:

  1. We should try to prevent a baby being born with immature, under-developed lungs.
  2. We should care for any babies that are born premature with kangaroo care.

With regard to the first practice, at the recent Women Deliver Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we learned about new protocols for the use of antenatal corticosteroids for threatened preterm birth. USAID is advocating that all midwives and doctors use these corticosteroids if premature delivery seems inevitable, as they cause a premature infant’s lungs to produce surfactant, thereby helping to prevent death from respiratory distress caused by immature lungs.

Vicki Penwell
Excerpted from “Prematurity and Kangaroo Care during a Disaster,” Midwifery Today, Issue 111
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.

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

Are any of the mothers in your care survivors of female genital mutilation (FGM)? If so, what challenges did FGM bring to the birth and how were they addressed?


Luckily here in Slovenia, we have minimal to no cases of FGM.

Willma A.K.


Yes, here there are women who are survivors of FGM. The scars affect childbirth. We address this issue by having skilled birth attendants at deliveries.

Edwidge Kezaabu


Fortunately, in Slovakia, we do not have FGM. We also hope that it will be possible to stop this practice in other parts of the world.

Iva Jancigova


I’ve never had to give care to survivors of female genital mutilation in my practice.

Hélène Goninet


In Ethiopia, especially in Somali regional state, female circumcision is universal and survivors of this bad practice suffer from severe pain during sexual intercourse and at delivery time because the labia are sutured together during infibulation (the worst type of female circumcision which includes removal of almost all parts of the vulva and stitching the vaginal canal leaving a small opening for menstrual flow). Defibulation is performed to make the vaginal orifice wider. Even when defibulation is performed because of the severe scars, delivery most of the time becomes difficult and a cesarean is performed when in reach. Otherwise, prolonged labor and severe perineal tearing, fetal death, etc., will occur.

Gebresilasea Gendisha


Female genital mutilation is an unknown term in Greece. This is because Greek women are orthodox and our religion and traditions don’t support such horrifying procedures for young girls, neither circumcision for boys. The vast majority of the population is not amputated! What we must take into account though is the migrants and the refugees who pass the borders daily and may need medical treatment/help. I offer my help as a midwife voluntarily on a weekly basis. Syrian women and Afghans are not mutilated, at least the ones that I have cared for. The majority of women who are mutilated are the African women, and especially the sub- Saharan Africans, but those are treated entirely at the public hospitals and I have no access there. So, in general, I have no challenges to mention concerning female genital mutilation.

Helen Serpetini


Well, yes, as I consider episiotomies to be FGM. So yes, I have had experience with many women who had this done to them. Here in Belize, about 90% of all first-time moms have had an episiotomy. I know one such case that happened after the baby was born because the midwife in the hospital did not want to get in trouble. The baby came too fast for her to do one before birth, so she did one after the birth! Episiotomies happen way too much all over the world. Birthing on your back with legs in the air contributes to more episiotomies being considered necessary. Most women appreciate when midwives use warm compresses and oil and guide the baby out slowly to possibly avoid any trauma at all.

Gail Johnson

Featured Products

Put the gift of beautiful birth in her hands

MT store Give Brought to Earth by Birth, a collection of black and white photographs by Harriette Hartigan, one of the world’s master birth photographers. It makes a beautiful gift for your midwife or doula, for expectant or new moms, for grandmothers and for anyone who loves babies and birth. And remember to order a copy for yourself! To order

Enjoy the birth stories of three couples

MT store Just $18, this 42-minute DVD will show you various ways of giving birth, including waterbirth and squatting. The couples also discuss why they decided that homebirth was the best option for them. The audio in Homebirth Stories is in Hebrew; the subtitles are in English. 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.

Mexican Art Expresses the Joy of Birth

MT online store Put excitement on your walls with four colorful Mexican art prints celebrating birth and midwifery. These lively creations also make wonderful gifts. See all the prints here.

Expert midwives share their tricks

MT store Sharing Midwifery Knowledge is packed with information that can expand your personal bag of tricks, enhance your education and encourage a natural approach to safe childbearing. Topics include Nutrition and Herbs, Natural Alternatives to Drugs and Suturing, The Dangers of Ultrasound and Premature Rupture of Membranes. To order

Website Update

colorfunnystack_w192 (13K)Many testimonials from people who have attended Midwifery Today conferences have recently been put online where you may read them.

For example, from the 2014 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, conference: “Thank you for all your coordinating, planning and sharing a beautiful Midwifery Today conference. This was outstanding. I honor and appreciate your coordination, vision and leadership in this conference.”

Here’s one from the 2011 Eugene, Oregon, conference: “I was really impressed by the broad range of aspects of midwifery that were covered. Mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, legal, organizational—I can’t think of anything that was missed. I was moved by the deliberate effort to level the playing field—that there was no room for superiority of one credential over another.”

Read more testimonials

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