May 25, 2016
Volume 18, Issue 11
Midwifery Today E-News
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In This Week’s Issue

Save $8 on Paths to Becoming a Midwife

MT storePaths to Becoming a Midwife: Getting an Education is just what any aspiring midwife needs. Check out our Spring into Savings page to find out how you can save on this essential book.

Learn how to work with VBAC moms

MT storePart of Midwifery Today’s Holistic Clinical Series, The VBAC and Cesarean Prevention Handbook is filled with articles by midwives, doulas and mothers on the powerful experience of VBAC. You’ll also find technical information about cesarean sections and VBACs designed to help you support VBAC moms in a safe and empowering way. To order

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Quote of the Week

I usually claim that pregnant women should not read books about pregnancy and birth. Their time is too precious. They should, rather, watch the moon and sing to their baby in the womb.

Michel Odent

The Art of Midwifery

When a woman gives birth, she has to reach down inside herself and give more than she thought she had. The limits of her existence are stretched. There is a moment when every woman thinks, “I can’t do this.” If she is lucky, she has a midwife, a doula or her mom to whisper in her ear, “You are doing it.” As she does it, she becomes someone new: a mother. If the birthing process is skipped or occurs in a hostile situation, or if the interventions become overwhelming, she becomes a different mother than she would have been if she had only had a supportive, midwifery model of care.

Pam Udy
Excerpted from “Emotional Impact of Cesareans,” Midwifery Today, Issue 89
View table of contents / Order the back issue

Midwifery Today Conferences

Moving from Pain to Power with Debra Pascali-Bonaro

Fiji conferenceAttend this full-day class to learn how the key elements of privacy, safety and being unobserved and undisturbed facilitate an easier, gentler birth. You will also discover how to create birth ambiance: lighting, music, aromatherapy and touch. Debra also discusses the 4 R’s of labor: relaxation, rhythm, ritual and rebozo, along with the Hoku acupressure point.

Part of our conference in Suva, Fiji, 20–24 June 2016..

What is a rebozo and what do you do with it?

Strasbourg conference Attend the Rebozo Techniques and Practice class to find out! Mirjam de Keijzer, Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos and Thea van Tuyl will show you how to use a rebozo, demonstrating simple techniques that promote healthy pregnancy and birth. You’ll be able to practice these techniques yourself during the hands-on portion of the full-day class.

Learn more about the Strasbourg, France, conference.

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Editor’s Corner


Cesarean has become a veritable epidemic. Though it can be a life-saving operation, it is still major abdominal surgery. Marsden Wagner used to say, “You can’t just walk into a hospital and demand heart surgery when you don’t need it.” It is truly a double-edged sword of medicine, no pun intended—something that can save the life of a mother or baby yet is overused. In the US, approximately 1 in 3 women is cut open for her birth (CDC 2014). This rate is shockingly higher in many other countries.

Besides the harmful effects on the mother, there is the baby to consider. We are dealing with two lives and one is counting on his mother’s entire foundation for good health. The microbiome is such an important factor that we are just beginning to learn about. The love and respect with which a child is born is another very important issue. Let’s be cognizant of all these factors when we consider the sacred moments of birth.

My friend Dr. Diego Alarcon does his cesarean births as all should be done—with amazing love and respect for the motherbaby. After he makes the cut as small as possible, he brings out the baby, making the motions of the mechanisms of labor as much as possible. He leaves the cord to pulse a bit and then gently and lovingly hands the baby to her mother right on the table. She bonds while he sutures.


— 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

Fiji is welcoming Midwifery Today with open arms at the upcoming conference in June. In fact, there will be a formal opening of the conference in which the prime minister will speak about the importance of natural, safe birthing practices! We are so honored and hope to be a spark in Fiji’s movement towards changing birth practices on a national level. One of the main purposes for Midwifery Today to host a conference in Fiji is to model a different way to birth, as well as to be an agent of change.

The conference is a little over a month away. Will you join us in Fiji and be a part of the change? Would you like to rub elbows with Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji, and learn more about midwifery issues in the South Seas? Or simply come to enjoy the beaches, the culture and celebrate birth with us. Either way, it is sure to be a synergistic event.

The in-office registration deadline is Monday 30 June. After this date, you are welcome to register at the conference.

— Oriona Turner, Conference Coordinator

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Featured Article

A Family-Centered Cesarean Birth

I was 34 weeks pregnant when we learned our little one was breech. An ultrasound confirmed the position and showed a cord wrapped around the baby’s neck. I had never worried about the possibility of a breech baby and in that moment the nuchal cord sounded more alarming to me. Our midwife assured me that many babies have the cord around their neck at some point during pregnancy and that this typically does not present any complications.

The bigger, more pertinent issue of the baby’s breech presentation didn’t immediately register with me; I didn’t know enough to know that if our baby didn’t flip we were unlikely to have a vaginal birth. I soon learned that, in our region—as in many other parts of the United States—there really weren’t many options for vaginal breech delivery.

We had chosen a midwife for our prenatal care and had always planned to have a homebirth. Having a homebirth meant being surrounded by warmth, history, familiarity and love. Our midwife knew that it was possible and safe to deliver a breech baby vaginally, but did not have the expertise to do so. We considered trying to find someone trained in breech delivery, even if we needed to travel to another state.

My life is full of blessings but I am also a worrier. I wanted my doctor or midwife to have training in breech vaginal delivery. I wanted the system to agree that it was a safe and sane choice. I wanted to know I was doing everything I could to give our daughter the very best start in life. I wanted to eliminate doubt and worry. The idea of choosing a vaginal breech delivery and then having a negative outcome was difficult for me to consider. It seemed like a choice with too much risk and not enough support.

We were concerned about the breech presentation, but optimistic that with a little more time our baby would flip. We did our research and tried everything (homeopathy, acupuncture, hypnosis, inversions, external cephalic version, etc.) to encourage her to make the journey “head down.” We ultimately put our trust in our daughter, knowing that birth was a natural process and that if she could flip, she would flip. Trying all of these techniques and connecting with all of these wonderful healers had a secondary effect. They helped me see that birth was not a single act and reminded me that our birth experience had started many months before we discovered that our daughter was breech. They opened my eyes to the larger process of birth and helped me to realize that this was my baby’s birth as much as mine. Most likely, this would not be the last time my daughter and I would have differing opinions about how to proceed through a life event. I could give up and settle for what the system had to offer us or I could let go, regroup and create the birth we wanted for our daughter within the system.

As the weeks disappeared, and our due date rapidly approached, a medically necessary cesarean seemed unavoidable. I had heard stories of women traumatized by their birth experience, and I was determined that this would not be my story. We needed to be informed. We researched our options for creating a cesarean birth that would honor both mother and child and not stray too far from our original intentions. Our midwife was very supportive and helped us sort through all of the new information. She connected us with a midwife-friendly obstetrician in our region and a facility that would allow us some latitude in our birth choices. She also encouraged us to draft a birth plan. We went online and found a white paper on family-centered cesarean birth from the International Cesarean Awareness Network. Using the paper as guidance, along with other resources, we crafted a birth plan that offered us the best chance of giving our daughter the gentlest birth possible given the circumstances.

As I began to accept the cesarean, I was able to see more clearly what was possible. I could still have most of what I wanted for our baby: gentle hands to welcome her into the world, being surrounded by loved ones who never left our side, nursing soon after delivery, no shots or pokes or vaccines—not even a bath. It was all possible if we used our imagination. I, on the other hand, would be undergoing major surgery. I was worried a bit, but I was a mother now and mothers do whatever they need to do in order to ensure the health and well-being of their child. I was healthy and fortunate to have lots of support. I would be fine.

Stacy S. Hirsch
Excerpted from “A Family-Centered Cesarean Birth,” Midwifery Today, Issue 95
View table of contents / Order the back issue

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Midwifery Today Back Issues have the information you need!

MT online store From second stage and prematurity to birth change and natural remedies, back issues of Midwifery Today print magazine are packed with informative articles that will help you improve your practice. You’ll also find inspiring birth stories, birth news, poetry and stunning black and white photography. Choose from these available back issues.

Discover belly mapping!

MT store The Belly Mapping Workbook shows how a woman can discover her baby’s position in late pregnancy. This technique can be a fun bonding activity and is often used for proactive childbirth preparation using optimal fetal positioning. The workbook includes 100 drawings and photos that take you through details of head-down and breech babies. At just $14.95, it makes a fine gift for a pregnant friend! To order

Learn about the pelvic exam

MT store Maternal Exam for the Student Midwife, Part II, The Pelvic Exam, is a two-disc DVD set packed with information about various aspects of pelvic examination. You will see how to do internal, bimanual, rectal and speculum exams. Also covered are visualization of the external genitalia, palpation of the internal reproductive organs, and the procedure for collecting cultures from the cervix and surrounding tissues. To order

Maternal Exam for the Student Midwife, Part I, is also available.

Website Update

Read this article excerpt from Midwifery Today magazine, Spring 2016, now on our website:

  • The Bond of Midwifery and Art—by Annette Wilson

    Excerpt: Gentle birth can empower mothers, and viewing powerful birth photography can inspire all women. Witnessing the strength of a woman giving birth moves others to believe in themselves and their own bodies.

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