June 22, 2016
Volume 18, Issue 13
Midwifery Today E-News
“First Stage Labor”
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In This Week’s Issue

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Quote of the Week

Labor is the only blind date where you know you will meet the love of your life.


The Art of Midwifery

Lavender is popular amongst many midwives and doulas because of its varied uses in labor. It calms the entire birth team, lowers tensions and blood pressure and facilitates labor’s energy flow. Lavender oil contains a small amount of the ketone camphor, which can be emmenagogic, so some authorities recommend it be used with caution in early pregnancy. However, because it is a weak emmenagogue, it is unlikely to initiate uterine contractions in a healthy pregnancy.

Ashley Musil
Excerpted from “Labor Encouragement with Essential Oils,” Midwifery Today, Issue 107
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Midwifery Today Conferences

Strasbourg conference Join us in Strasbourg, France, this October!

Learn from teachers such as Cornelia Enning (pictured), Carol Gautschi, Fernando Molina, Gail Tully and Michel Odent. Choose from a wide variety of classes, including Midwifery Skills, Breech Skills, Rebozo Techniques and Practice, and Managing Twin Births. Plan now to attend.

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Editor’s Corner

MT’s Crowdfunding Campaign

Have you ever felt something so strongly in your heart that you had to follow through with it? Maybe it was your calling to be a midwife, a doula, or a mother. As the mother of Midwifery Today, I have a calling to bring midwifery education to countries all over the world. Midwifery Today has been able to accomplish this for the last 30 years, and we are so grateful. However, it is time to expand our reach into other countries where people have requested our assistance in accessing this important training—countries whose birth workers may neither have the resources to attend conferences nor the infrastructure to practice the midwifery model of care. We want to reach families, as well. We get requests for training or conferences most every week.

With the hike in airfares, hotel pricing and overall organizational expenses, this vision of in-person training is becoming more difficult to manifest. However, I refuse to give up. In fact, Midwifery Today has great ideas on how to bring the art of midwifery to more people. For example, one idea we have is to offer online classes and conferences in order to reach birth professionals in less developed countries such as Syria. From reading evaluations, I know that MT conferences have an amazing positive impact on our attendees, and I want to share the nurturing energy generated at the conferences with more people across the globe—midwives, doulas and mothers alike.

Do you feel the calling to share midwifery with others as well? You can answer that call right from the chair you are sitting in at the moment. Midwifery Today has created a crowdfunding campaign on generosity.com. By donating to the campaign, you help MT expand into other countries that are asking for help and training. Additionally, if you donate $10 or more, you will receive a thank-you gift for your generosity. Go to our generosity page for more information and to donate.

Thank you!

— 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

Upcoming Conferences

As you read this, we are in Fiji for our international Midwifery Today conference. We have been looking forward to learning from and sharing with our colleagues. I have been talking with Fijian midwife Merewairita Valu about our all-day class, “Midwifery in the South Seas.” She is going to try to locate some traditional midwives to bring into our class.

There are many things that excite me about this conference and one is the opportunity to make positive change around the South Seas. This is Merewairita’s goal as well.

In October of 2016, we will fly to Strasbourg, France, for the “Birth Is a Human Rights Issue” Midwifery Today conference. Human rights in childbirth is such an important theme because we need to implement the changes we know will improve birth for every motherbaby, which ultimately affects society as a whole.

I have been working hard on the Eugene conference program (April 2017), and we have some exciting new and returning teachers and classes. Our theme is “The Heart and Science of Birth.” We have scientist Chandler Marrs teaching an important class called “Deconstructing Modern Illness: Idiopathic versus Iatrogenic.” We hope to see you in our hometown of Eugene, Oregon, for this conference. It is sure to be worth the trip!

Toward better birth,

— Jan Tritten

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Featured Article

Allowing the Laboring Mother to Be Primal

I arrived at SG’s house at 6 am on Thursday. She was in labor. The day went on with her pains coming consistently but tolerable, allowing her to smile, eat and laugh and allowing me enough breaks to check in at home, have my weekly midwife student lesson and make plans for the evening.

At about midnight, SG’s pains changed, becoming far more intense. I called two midwife students—they stayed at SG’s bedside from then on, massaging her back, comforting and encouraging her as she started to yell and pull her hair. She even began to scratch at her face.

I wondered: Would the doctors and nurses have allowed this kind of behavior in the hospital? Would they have yelled at SG to stop? Why can we not look at someone doing this in labor, and does it need to be stopped?

I found myself wanting to stop SG immediately. What she was doing could not be helpful. She is freaking out, I thought. She needs to be more calm and collected. This needs to be a gentle, physiological birth. She is going to use up all her energy. I need to remind her how to breathe and tell her everything is okay so that she can relax (and so her behavior would be easier to witness and support).

What would happen if I allowed SG to let out her frustration at the pain, her lack of control, the unknowingness of time, the persistency of the contractions, her aloneness and her involuntary, spontaneous reactions to labor pains? What would happen if I stood by her, with complete faith in her body and the process, and I just supported her, reassured her and was there to allow her to be what and who she needed to be in that moment?

And then I remembered my labor. Involuntarily, I screamed and I shouted so loudly with each contraction. It was all completely contrary to my quiet nature. When a contraction came, I needed to scream to let that pain enter, move through my body and leave. Thank goodness no one told me to stop. As I look back, I understand now the many emotional reasons why I needed to express myself and my pain in that way. It was not only about the labor pains—it was about a lot of things that I had been dealing with throughout my pregnancy. When my baby was born, I felt peaceful and whole.

When we understand the physiology of labor, we know that this primal behavior is meant to happen in a physiological birth. It is, indeed, the primal part of our brain that controls and acts during labor.

Gauri Lowe
Excerpted from “Allowing the Laboring Mother to Be Primal,” Midwifery Today, Issue 113
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Featured Products

Read about First Stage

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Learn more about how birth can be

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