February 1, 2017
Volume 19, Issue 3
Midwifery Today E-News
“Stalled Labor”
Print Page

In This Week’s Issue

Learn about shoulder dystocia

e-bookOur e-book, Shoulder Dystocia, features top-notch information from the brightest minds in natural childbirth. When you buy this book, you’ll be able to read articles such as “Shoulder Dystocia: The Basics” by Gail Tully, “Preventing Shoulder Dystocia” by Michel Odent and “How Being a Homebirth Midwife Enabled Me to Learn about Shoulder Dystocia” by Ina May Gaskin.

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Quote of the Week

A watched pot never boils.


The Art of Midwifery

Some essential oils enhance uterine action and can be used to encourage labor contractions. These same oils can be used to accelerate labor once it is established. Surprisingly, some of these oils also induce a sedative effect, producing stronger contractions while decreasing the perception of pain. (Care should be taken not to use these oils near pregnant women who are not yet full term, as they could theoretically initiate preterm labor. They should not be opened or diffused in your office if you will also be seeing other pregnant clients the same day.)

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

Eugene conference Join us in Eugene, Oregon, this April!

You will learn from teachers such as Robbie Davis-Floyd (pictured), Elizabeth Davis, Anne Frye and Carol Gautschi. Planned classes include Using Rebozo in Prenatal Care, Shoulder Dystocia, and Healing Trauma through Physiological Birth. Plan now to attend!

Learn more about the Eugene, Oregon, conference.

Finland conference Inspiring speakers and exciting classes…

…are in store for you when you attend our conference in Helsinki, Finland, this October. Learn from teachers such as Elizabeth Davis, Fernando Molina, Cornelia Enning, Sally Kelly and Gail Hart. Planned classes include Acupressure and Cupping for Birth Practitioners, Gua Sha for Pregnancy and Birth, Placenta Medicine, and Shoulder Dystocia. Register today!

Part of our conference in Helsinki, Finland, October 2017.

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Editor’s Corner

Stalled Labor

What makes a labor stall? Is it really stalled, or is it just the woman’s way of birthing? How can we get labor to move along if we discern that it is really stalled and she is really in labor? When I put this question out to our Facebook followers, we received many responses. Some mentioned that with a VBAC, sometimes the woman stalls at the point she got to in her previous labor. Often it is people around her that hold her up. I was the midwife at a birth where the relatives had all been called and were sitting around playing cards, not contributing anything to the laboring mom and acting bored. She was totally stalled out. We asked the relatives to go and get donuts. As soon as they were all out the door, the mom’s labor resumed! It had been a while since she had urinated so we sent her to the bathroom. Well, the walk must have also helped, because she fell to the floor in the hall after she peed and had her baby right there to a lot of laughing. It seemed she wanted her baby out before the relatives got back. Aren’t women amazing?

Another birth I remember well was in Mexico. Verena Schmid, a midwife from Italy, and I were visiting a Mexican midwife. A woman went into labor and we were privileged to have the mom’s permission to attend with the midwife. At this birth, the labor stopped, and Verena did a massage to restart labor. It is a very relaxing massage that we often teach at our conferences. There are many tips and techniques you can use to help women; one of the reasons Midwifery Today exists is to be a resource of sharing so we can all learn and help each other through our journeys. 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

We have many great learning opportunities at Midwifery Today. Our Eugene, Oregon, conference is coming up very soon in April. One very exciting thing to us is the fact that many of our midwife friends from Fiji are working very hard to raise funds to join us in Eugene. That will make the Eugene conference even more interesting for all of our registrants and speakers. You still have time to save by registering by our second early registration deadline, February 6. This is our full five-day conference.

Our international conference will be in Helsinki, Finland, 4–8 October 2017. It will be held on a UNESCO site, on an island just a short ferry ride away from downtown.

We also have a series of one-day events this coming May being held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; in the Boston area; and in New York City. These mini-conferences provide the opportunity to learn, have fun and gain insights all while obtaining CEUs.

We hope to schedule more of these mini-conferences in the future. Let us know if you would like us to bring one to your area! We have also begun doing online classes because with these you don’t have to go anywhere but to your computer or even your phone. Let us know what you need to add to your education.

— Jan Tritten

Keep up to date with conference news on Facebook: General conference news

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Featured Article

Allowing the Labouring Mother to Be Primal

What is primal birth and how can it be allowed to unfold in labour? What does primal behavior look like? If a mother’s behaviour triggers something in you, causing you to feel strong reactions, how might this affect the labour and birth?

SG’s labour was challenging—I won’t lie. It was demanding in many ways, requiring my attention for many hours over a two-day period. There were many difficult aspects to her birth, but looking back, I can see how I learned so many lessons and valuable gems.

SG is a simple lady originally from Bangladesh. She and her husband live in a tin shanty hut on the banks of the river Jalangi, in a devotional village called Mayapur in West Bengal. She wanted a homebirth. She declined any hospital visits, medications, injections and doctor visits. They had faith in their Lord, in nature and in her body.

At first, it all seemed so romantic—traveling to SG’s house on my bicycle in the cool and dark early hours of the morning, cycling past the cows and down the winding, bumpy path lined with date trees, through the fields and past the mango groves with the early morning mist around me. But the reality of the darkness and the cold and unknown discomfort soon became more of my uncomfortable reality.

I arrived at SG’s house at 6 am on Thursday. She was in labour. 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 behaviour in the hospital? Would they have yelled at SG to stop? Why can we not look at someone doing this in labour, 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 behaviour 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 labour 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?

Gauri Lowe
Excerpted from “Allowing the Labouring Mother to Be Primal,” Midwifery Today, Issue 113
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Website Update

Read this article excerpt from the Winter issue of Midwifery Today magazine, now on our website:

  • Microbiome and Health—by Fernando Molina

    Excerpt: In general terms, all the microbes that live in our guts are very important for our health, but yet, under some conditions, some of them can cause severe disease. Interestingly, there has been a significant change in our understanding of what causes disease, mainly by taking into consideration the awesome research in epigenetics, microbiota, what we do, how we behave as we go through life, what we eat and what kind of microbes we have in our guts ever since our sacred moment of birth.

Birth Q&A

Q: What are your tips for getting labor to move along?

— Midwifery Today

A: Increase the love energy; make sure you are running oxytocin yourself, which encourages others to do the same and may allow the mother or her attendants some emotional release.

— Elizabeth Davis

A: When I work with a client that has a stalled labor, I like to have her try new things. It could be a change of a position or getting up and walking. If mom is OK with it, I will give her a foot rub, hitting acupressure points to help get labor going and for pain relief. Sometimes, the labor will slow so mom can get rest, or something has happened that makes mom not feel so safe, like an animal in the wild when a lion is near during labor. The animal may stall labor until they feel safe again. I will ask the mom, “What is your lion?”

— Beverly Ray Ann Young-Reed

A: If things slow and the care provider is suggesting moving things along with Pitocin, I will suggest they “get it on,” and pet or make out. I have guarded many doors at our hospital while clients got oxytocin flowing naturally. And it works!

— Christine J. Catherall

A: I send them out of the room, to take a walk and have some new scenery. If they are tired, I put them into a warm bath, get them something to eat and some juice or something else sweet to drink. Turn the lights down, and tell her lover to rub her back, to kiss her and to hold her breasts in his hands. If she wants to just be left alone, I leave her alone and let her try to find a comfortable position and to rest a while. If she is really scared, we talk about how that is normal, and that although she is afraid, I am proud of her for not giving up. I talk about how it is OK to not worry about the baby coming right away, because it will come, and she will remember how brave she was for the rest of her life.

— Vicki Gilbert Ziemer

A: Cuddling and intimacy to get oxytocin flowing.

— Makeda Kamara

A: Stalled labor is usually due to a tired uterus or to an emotionally tired or stressed mother. So many women are forced to labor without food or sleep. Many are anxious and fearful and often surrounded by people who make it impossible for them to relax and rest.

— Gail Hart

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