March 15, 2017
Volume 19, Issue 6
Midwifery Today E-News
“International Midwifery”
Print Page

In This Week’s Issue

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Quote of the Week

The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God—if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That’s what I think.

Maya Angelou

The Art of Midwifery

Human intelligence is one of our most mysterious and miraculous assets. We must make good use of it and move our understanding through all of our senses, in order to begin to comprehend that everything in the universe is connected, and that for the whole to come out intact, we need to respect and work harmoniously with its parts. In this way, we can learn to apply the different possible techniques—traditional and technological—as needed.

The best way to learn and expand one’s views is to be quiet and to observe respectfully and attentively with humility and an openness to learn. In these moments, most of the lights go on; the internal “clicks” of “aha!” occur when we begin to get a glimpse.

Naolí Vinaver
Excerpted from “Tradition, Birth & the Kitchen to Cook It All in,” Midwifery Today, Issue 89
View table of contents / Order the back issue

Midwifery Today Conferences

Eugene conference What is the Heart and Science of Birth?

Attend our conference in Eugene, Oregon, this April and find out! You will have the opportunity to learn practical skills and discover important new information, including information about the Microbiome. And, as always, our hope is that you return to your practice refreshed, renewed and ready to help moms and babies.

Learn more about the Eugene, Oregon, conference.

East Coast mini-conference Join us in May for a one-day conference on the East Coast USA!

Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos (pictured), Jan Tritten and Gail Hart will discuss topics such as New and Old: Techniques for Controlling and Preventing Hemorrhage, Resolving Shoulder Dystocia and Our Eyes and Non-verbal Communication. There will also be a Tricks of the Trade sharing session. You may choose from three locations: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; the Boston area; and New York City.

Learn more about our East Coast Mini-Conferences, May 2017.

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Editor’s Corner

The Importance of International Midwifery Education

It is vitally important to learn, share and teach internationally. For one thing, observing how different cultures approach birth can provide lessons for all of us. Look how much we have learned and shared about rebozo since Doña Irene and Angelina Martinez Miranda brought our attention to this knowledge with their great teaching. Though babies essentially go in and come out the same way, we as midwives and doulas can hopefully make many enhancements to the process, when needed and for comfort. We have found that what we learned from Tine Greve in Norway about breastfeeding has enhanced the knowledge of all who have heard her speak. From our Fijian sisters we learned the importance of having an open mind and a willing heart, while learning and sharing.

We have had the joy of experiencing amazing cultures in our travels for conferences. I have written about Fiji and many other places. As we prepare to go to Helsinki, Finland, we keep these lessons in mind. Many of our speakers there will come from different countries. When we go to Bad Wildbad, Germany (next in 2018), we typically have people from as many as 45 different countries with us. All of this important sharing and networking adds so much to our events. We are truly blessed to have the privilege of meeting people from all over the world. We will try to bring you the best of what we find. If you have any leads, don’t hesitate to e-mail me at

I want everyone interested in better childbirth to know about the Better Birth 360 evidence-based educational online event going on now. Host Nicholas Olow interviewed me on Birth as a Human Rights Issue. The online interviews are free until March 26, 2017, and then available for purchase after that.

Go here to get your Free Access Pass to the Better Birth 360 World Summit.

All 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

Baby Number Three’s Birth

It was baby number three; would this birth follow a similar pattern to that of babies one and two? I had been with her for both of her previous babies’ births, but I had a gut feeling when I arrived in the morning with her still in early labor that things would progress quickly once active labor hit. Her labor felt different to me this time around. It was just an instinct, but I had learned long ago that my doula instincts are one of my best tools. The hospital where they planned to birth was just a short drive away, so I knew we could make it even though this mama wanted to stay at home as long as possible. Sure enough, as soon as active labor hit, things progressed fast. I decided it was best to ride with them just in case. As her husband drove quickly down the highway, she said she needed to push and I prepared myself to catch a baby right there on the side of Hwy 105. Although a roadside catch would have been interesting to add to my collection of crazy birth stories, it was not a goal, let alone an ideal place for a little one to make her way into the world. Luckily, we made it to the hospital and the baby was born just a few minutes later. I was ready to catch the baby roadside, but was I properly prepared? Probably not.

As I peruse through the amazing program for April’s “The Heart and Science of Birth” conference, one class jumps off the page as I recall baby number three’s birth story: “Basic Disaster Birth Support (BDBS),” taught by the incredible Sister MorningStar. BDBS prepares us to be the calm and knowledgeable support for a birthing mother when circumstances prevent her from reaching her planned site of birth.

“‘Basic Disaster Birth Support’ is the most practical and powerful training I have been privileged to teach worldwide. Founder Ruth Walsh brilliantly created this training so anyone could gain the knowledge, skills and calm confidence to help a laboring mother, in the midst of natural or manmade disaster, who must birth outside of the hospital or prepared setting. The goal is to reduce the incidence of harm caused by lack of understanding of the natural process of birth or reliance on modern methods to assist at birth. We learn and unlearn and role play. I love this training.”—Sister MorningStar

Sister will cover some of these important components of Basic Disaster Birth Support:

  • The timely and critical importance of BDBS for global citizens and birthkeepers
  • Types of human-made and natural disasters that could prohibit a laboring mother from reaching a hospital or medical assistance
  • Areas of confidence and concern in dealing with birth in the midst of the chaos of disaster
  • Immediate newborn assessment and care
  • Plan for care of mother and baby during first 24 hours after birth
  • Role-playing a simulated disaster where a woman is about to give birth

Interested in taking this course and already registered or want to add it to your list of registered courses? You can do so during registration at the conference, or feel free to e-mail me. Still have not registered? Please visit our website.

— Midwifery Today Conference Coordinator Shea Baker, birth and postpartum doula

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

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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Featured Article

Andean Traditional Midwifery in Peru

The birth process is considered a very special stage for the birthing woman and the family in Andean society. … although it is considered a natural process, the implied risks are known, so the family is very strict in the special care the birthing woman must follow. The measures taken in this process are formed as social and cultural norms in a very strict way, to prevent the risk of getting sick or dying in the birth process. … according to Andean wisdom, the moments of greatest risk are during birth and immediately after birth, because these are the stages where the woman is more physically vulnerable because of her great effort. Additionally, the birthing woman is at greater risk to get sick because her body is “open” and “cold can enter her” more easily, which may cause delays in the birth and … imbalances in the woman’s body if the woman doesn’t follow the post birth special care measures. The birthing woman also has to be especially cautious to maintain the cold/warm equilibrium within her body, because the baby is “taking from her” body’s heat. Pregnancy produces a cold excess in the woman’s organism because her blood goes to the fetus, so she must be careful with her intake of foods and drinks with a balanced temperature that will not produce drastic changes in the fetus.

Another necessary type of care concerns the “accommodations,” a problem considered more important during pregnancy—implying the greatest risk during birth—is an inadequate position of the baby, whether transverse or podalic, that will make labor difficult. To solve this problem, parteras “accommodate” the fetus through touch to guarantee a good position. The prenatal checkups that birthing women receive include monitoring the position of the baby. They tell women not to carry heavy loads, not to expose themselves to cold temperatures and to avoid intense emotional reactions [such] as “cólera,” or rage. However, because of social and gender role transformations, a lot of women can no longer follow this recommendation, due to the additional workloads they now have.

Andean midwives also place great value on the time that birth will actually take. For them time is an important indicator that can reflect whether a birth is optimal or complicated. They know exactly how long each stage of labor takes. The process may be delayed because the room where the birth is taking place is too cold (imbalance in the birthing woman), the birthing woman doesn’t have enough amniotic fluid, or the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck.

Cynthia Ingar
Excerpted from “Andean Traditional Midwifery in Peru,” Midwifery Today, Issue 89
View table of contents / Order the back issue

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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.

Eugene 2015 conference classes available on a USB drive!

MT store Bring the conference home with your choice of classes on a portable USB drive. Classes available include A Day with Michel Odent, Alternative Remedies for the Childbearing Year, Breech Birth, Hemorrhage and Estimating Blood Loss, Midwifery Skills Full-day Class and Twin Birth. Just go here to select the classes you want and place your order.

Website Update

The Table of Contents for the Spring 2017 issue Midwifery Today magazine is now online.

Throughout life, women find themselves in the role of mothering. With this issue’s theme of “Mothering,” our offerings are diverse. You will find tips on having a good pregnancy to making the best of a cesarean birth to mothers supporting mothers after birth. Our beloved Robin Lim even shares the challenges of mothering one’s mother. As always, our pages are packed with interesting reading from many well-known authors in midwifery along with other new contributors who cover unique and timely subjects.

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Birth Q&A

Q: What has been your biggest challenge or adjustment in working as a midwife or midwifery student in another country?

— Midwifery Today

A: Not being able to work to my full scope and provide care to women in their homes (as the ICM states in our definition of a midwife), despite being registered, without jumping through additional expensive hoops (I am in Australia).

— Jessiebella Cash

A: The differences of care. Priorities. I trained in Canada and did a placement in France as a student. I went from a very patient choice-oriented system to an over-medicalized, physician choice system. [This included] BP’s every 15 min, heart rate monitor for mom for all of labour, VEs every hour (very rarely every two hours), everyone has an epidural—I probably only had one person without one the whole time I was there. No nurses, only midwives on L&D [who] do the catch unless there’s a problem—then the OB comes. They do a lot of forceps using only one blade instead of two. Moms stay in the hospital for 5–7 days postpartum. Midwives do prenatal, gynecological and postpartum care. [There are no] homebirths except with some very rare lay midwives who offer it. [On the positive side,] breech and twin vaginal births were much more common.

Those are most of what I remember!

— Meganne-Odile Coyle

A: The lack of women-centered care and respect in Uganda. No information is given and consent is not needed or wanted. The enormous number of women laboring on the floor unmonitored in the government hospitals. The absurd information given to mothers, e.g., “When you vomit it is amniotic fluid and you are harming your baby.”

— Courtney Kapuya

A: The loss of autonomy when moving from UK to Australia, and the over-medicalisation. The lack of trust of midwives was a struggle, too.

— Karen Sawyer

A: I’m a Finnish midwife and a little over a year ago I did my last practice placement in Malawi, Africa, for three months. Biggest challenge or adjustment? Everything. The lack of resources and respect for other human beings. When even simple problems can’t be treated because the personnel don’t know how to do it or you don’t have the medicine or equipment. You lose mothers and babies. It’s so frustrating, but still you make the most of it and learn things. Several women giving birth on the floor in a hospital because there are no beds. Not enough midwives, so the mothers give birth without any help in a hospital.

— Linda Alice Tötterman

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