September 28, 2016
Volume 18, Issue 20
Midwifery Today E-News
“Midwifery Education”
Print Page

In This Week’s Issue

MT online storeThinking about becoming a midwife? Do you know someone who is?

Paths to Becoming a Midwife: Getting an Education is just what any aspiring midwife needs! The fourth edition of this book includes several new articles on the various midwifery philosophies, information on becoming an apprentice, dozens of updated articles, and a directory of more than 150 schools, programs and other resources. To order

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Quote of the Week

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.

John Dewey

The Art of Midwifery

Modern midwifery education has adopted a holy checklist and timeline where the student needs to check off skills and experience within a certain timeframe. I am dreaming of a way and time when women are as healthy as deer and mothers birth in the night before professionals arrive. Don’t misunderstand; I want and am willing to talk at any round table about midwifery education. We need everyone who cares about birth at such a table, including mothers. We need a global table with a global voice, passion and wisdom. I am not saying that birth and midwives are not made better with midwifery education, but I am saying I have many questions about modern midwifery education and its effect on the experience of birth.

Sister MorningStar
Excerpted from “Midwifery Education?” Midwifery Today, Issue 105
View table of contents / Order the back issue

Midwifery Today Conferences

Learn about breech birth with Cornelia Enning, Diane Goslin and Gail Tully

Strasbourg conference This full-day class will help you develop breech skills such as palpation and version techniques. Frank, footling and complete breech will be discussed, as well as possible complications. In the afternoon, Cornelia will cover the special circumstances of breech waterbirth.

Learn more about the Strasbourg, France, conference.

Plan now to attend our conference in Eugene, Oregon, next April!

Eugene conference You will be able to choose from classes such as Hemorrhage and Estimating Blood Loss, Research in Midwifery and Using Gentle Tools (Our Hands) for Ideal Positioning. There will also be a two-day Midwifery Issues and Skills class. Planned teachers include Penny Simkin (pictured), Gail Hart, Fernando Molina, Sister MorningStar and Carol Gautschi.

Learn more about the Eugene, Oregon, conference.

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Editor’s Corner

Midwifery Education

There are many different ways to get a midwifery education in the US. We are a very eclectic country! No matter how you go about it, I think it is important to attend births. Most midwives and doulas will say they learn the most from birthing women. Moms are our best teachers. There is no substitute for experience and that experience should include continuity of care. It is being with and getting to know the mom through the prenatal, birth and postpartum time that will teach a practitioner the most, putting the book learning into perspective.

The other important aspect of attending births is to make sure you are going to normal births. If you learn birth practices that are interventive, you will have to unlearn and resist fear that may plague you. Getting a good grasp on the realms of normal will help you realize when something is going outside your ability and a transport is needed. I like this saying: “As the twig is bent, so the tree will grow.” Guard your heart and mind in getting an education or in teaching others. Remember, Midwifery Today offers many resources to help you get an education.

— 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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Midwifery Education: Caring and Sharing (Facebook)

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Conference Chatter


We had a great mini-conference retreat in Sebastopol, California, at Mamalanda, a permaculture and retreat center. Our mini-conferences are really fun one-day deep learning events where we are able to get to know each other in small groups. They provide an easy way to obtain CEUs while enjoying the camaraderie of other practitioners. The Sebastopol retreat was the second one presented by Midwifery Today, and we are planning more! Next year we plan to be on the East Coast. We will be in Boston, New York City and at least one other major city. We hope to see you at a full Midwifery Today conference, but if you cannot get away for the full conference time, please consider a mini-conference or retreat. We hope to see you at our upcoming hometown conference in Eugene, Oregon. The theme is “The Heart and Science of Birth.”

— Jan Tritten

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Featured Article

Midwifery Education?

What is the purpose of midwifery education? What is your purpose for midwifery education?

Has shifting it from the apprenticeship model to the formalized education model improved birth outcomes? Does making midwifery education stream through a formalized route create a profession and a professional that improves birth experiences for women? What does the effect of fear have on the birth outcome? Is there a causative effect of fear for safety that diminishes the goal of a positive outcome, as well as diminishing a mother’s perception of happiness in her birth experience? What long-lasting effects does a professional creation of fear for safety have on a woman’s happiness beyond the birth experience? Has safety become the yard stick by which midwifery education is researched and measured and globalized? Have we succeeded in creating a false sense of security in birth with the presence of a professional?

In the late 1970s and early 1980s in Missouri, you could have your baby at home but you couldn’t have anyone help you who knew what they were doing. By law, physicians (trained or not in birthing babies) could have helped you, but they wouldn’t. Truthfully, that difficult situation helped those of us who chose homebirth to be clear and strong and mutually supportive. Gandhi said, “If someone can lead you out of the forest, someone else can lead you back in.” There wasn’t anyone else to trust but ourselves, and that served us very well. The same instincts that guided our ancestors and the animals in the woods around us became our guideposts. My daughters and the children of my friends birthed powerfully at home and those births included the modern-day terms of postdates, small for gestational age, large for gestational age, gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, premature and prolonged rupture of membranes and meconium-stained fluids. When I was having babies, we didn’t know the names of those conditions, and I believe that lack of professional or official education was to our advantage. We watched for things like general well-being, general happiness, capacity for handling stress and presence of fear. We watched to see if the pregnant mother was feeling better or feeling worse, and we circled close when her time came near. She knew us by name and we knew how she slept, pooped and what she ate. We knew if she had made peace with people and circumstances that surrounded her birth and her baby. It never occurred to us that her body couldn’t do something that her mind was clear about. We didn’t have a point to prove; we had a baby to birth. Many of those stories are in a book I wrote about my nearly 30 years of experiences with instinctual birth, called The Power of Women.

My drive and purpose and intention when I began to seek out midwifery education in the late 1970s was to find a midwife with whom I could apprentice. I wanted to learn how to get to know a mother in seven or so short months so that her honesty, love and power would be comfortable revealing itself in my presence. I followed my mentor everywhere, including the grocery store. After every prenatal appointment and after every birth we would sip tea as I asked questions and she asked me questions. I would ask, “Why?” and “What if?” She would answer straightforwardly and then ask me deeper questions about what I would do and what I was thinking.

Sister MorningStar
Excerpted from “Midwifery Education?” Midwifery Today, Issue 105
View table of contents / Order the back issue

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What are the appropriate uses of medicinal herbs based on tradition and science?

MT store Botanical Medicine in Midwifery Practice will help you find the answers. Learn the use of extracts and the differences between standard, alcohol and water based preparations. This book includes a glossary of plant categories and a comprehensive list of herbal resources, products and supplies. The final section provides information about essential herbs for women. Make sure you know how to use herbs in your practice. To order

Witness an inspiring homebirth

MT store When you order the expanded Birth Day DVD, you’ll receive the original 11-minute documentary as well as 10 additional chapters. Narrated by the baby’s mother, midwife Naolí Vinaver Lopez, the heart of this DVD is the birth of the family’s third child and first daughter. The new material includes additional footage of the birth, moments of family bonding and interviews with the grandparents, the midwife and others. Birth Day will help parents and practitioners alike understand the true and sacred meaning of birth. To order

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.

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Website Update

Read this editorial by Jan Tritten from the newest issue of Midwifery Today, Autumn 2016:

  • Birth Is a Human Rights Issue

    Excerpt: It is important to realize that the health of the mother and baby are deeply dependent on what happens in pregnancy, birth and in the hours and months after birth. These are life-altering days often referred to as the childbearing year. It is known that even if a mom runs into complications and birth does not go as expected, if she is part of the decision-making process, she ends up feeling better about her birth.

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Birth Q&A

Q: How do you keep current on your midwifery/birth skills?

— Midwifery Today

A: Like a groupie, I follow my favorite birth workers around the world and sit at their feet.

— Courtney Piper CatEarth

A: I attend any workshops, continuing education courses, conferences and such that I can. I teach others and feel it helps me stay on my toes. I attend peer review and learn as much about the topics of each case as I am able. I am also always reading new studies and information that is released.

— Lisa Sulffridge

A: I do online courses but prefer in-person everything!

— Amy Giove

A: Newsletters, blogs, webinars, teleclasses, online events, Facebook, conferences and ongoing talks with fellow birth keepers and discussions with non-fellow birthworkers.

— Karina Isolde Balslev

A: By reading Midwifery Today, going to conferences and generally communing with other midwives and doctors.

— Marlene Waechter

Want the whole story?
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