May 2, 2001
Volume 3, Issue 18
Midwifery Today E-News
“Happy International Midwives Day!”
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MIDWIFERY TODAY'S INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE will be in Paris, France in October. French and English are the official languages of the conference.

Meet Michel Odent, Ina May Gaskin, Jan Tritten, Dr. Marsden Wagner, Françoise Bardes (France), Naolí Vinaver (Mexico), Adailton Salvatore Meira (Brazil) and many others at the Paris, France conference.



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WITH THE GOAL OF BIRTH RENAISSANCE IN MIND, Midwifery Today brings you our newest baby: the International Alliance of Midwives (IAM). IAM is an online directory of birth activists from around the world who network with each other. All practitioners and activists interested in birth change and international midwifery are welcome to join. Click here for more information.

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MAY 5 IS INTERNATIONAL MIDWIVES DAY. Take a few moments this week to appreciate yourself, each other, and the world-changing work you do, one birth at a time!

Quote of the Week:

"Just think what a powerful force we [midwives] could be if there was a worldwide statement on the rights of women....with signatories from as many countries as possible."

- Henny Ligtermoet, 1998

The Art of Midwifery

For sore feet while pregnant, frequent foot massage and lots of water usually helps. For the massage, use peppermint massage oil; start in the middle of the foot just behind the ball of the toes (this is the solar plexus reflex point) and work down to the heel, then back up and out to the sides. Go back to the middle. Finish by pinching each toe.

If massage is not an option, try this:

Fill an empty shampoo bottle halfway with water and freeze. Put it on the floor and roll it back and forth with the bottom of the foot for ten minutes or so. Do this with each foot.

Having a mom soak her feet in strong peppermint tea may help. Eating Bing cherries (fresh if you can get them, but canned is fine) is a remedy my family has used for years with excellent results.

Having the mom put her feet up (that means higher than her hips) for 30 minutes a day helps.

Avoid heavily processed food. Also, if none of this seems to be working, the mom can toughen her feet by walking barefoot through clean sand. She could also rub her feet gently with a pumice stone.

- Bren Chance

Share your midwifery and doula arts with E-News readers! Send your favorite tricks to:

E-News welcomes feedback about techniques described in "The Art of Midwifery." What experiences have you had with the same or similar technique? What side effects have you noted? What alternatives do you suggest, and why?

For hundreds more "tricks," check out Midwifery Today's "Tricks of the Trade" Volumes I & II. Get both volumes for just $40!

Watch for "Tricks of the Trade Volume III," coming this summer!

News Flashes

A study examined thyroid function in pregnant women. Children in the study underwent 15 tests for intelligence, attention, language, reading ability, school performance, and visual-motor performance. The children of the mothers with thyroid deficiency during pregnancy scored lower on all tests. Their mean IQ was reduced by four points compared to that of the control group. Fifteen percent of the children had IQ scores less or equal to 85 compared to 5% of the control group. Of the women who had hypothyroidism and received no treatment, the differences among the children were even greater. The mean IQ of this subset of children was reduced by seven points from the control group and 19% of these children had a IQ less or equal to 85. The study suggests that undiagnosed, untreated thyroid hormone deficiency during pregnancy adversely affects brain development.

- New Engl J of Med 341

Appreciating Midwives

Seeing one of my midwives today stirred something deep inside of me. I'm bonded to both of these women in a place in my heart that few people even visit. Ours is a special relationship, one that didn't end with the birth of my son, or even with the conclusion of their postpartum care. I am aware that I am one of hundreds of women whom they will work with, and develop similarly meaningful and deep relationships with, throughout their careers. I am also aware of the rare quality of these women. I know that my son and I are special to them. My relationship with them has obviously changed, as it should, but the intimate connection we shared, based on their loving care and commitment, can never be altered. I really just want to say thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You helped me to be the person I wanted to be, with dignity.

- Heidi Tyedmers

Because every woman is a unique individual, our understanding of the psychology of birth will never really be complete. Some of our most valuable lessons will come in working through our own issues. The more we as midwives can weed out doubts and questions about our own worth and abilities as women, the more effective our efforts to support other women will be. By our very presence at births we will feel strengthened and empowered to do whatever they need to in order to give birth. Beyond this, our continuing efforts to understand how life patterns manifest in birth will enable us to better guide the process for each and every mother.

- Anne Frye

Midwives speak a special language. We speak words of instruction, counsel, and encouragement. We speak with our hands as we touch the swollen abdomen with confidence and gentleness, and as we give that reassuring hug that says more effectively than words, "All is well." And we speak with our eyes, when above all else, above race, religion, or economic status we see only a woman who is having a baby.... As we are there for them within and in spite of their circumstances, we are speaking to them in the language that all women understand: the language of love.

- Valerie El Halta

Every midwife has, at one time or another, stared sadly at the bags under her laundry piled high on the floor, at a husband sulking...and kids glaring accusingly as she flies out the door...again!

Every midwife has felt the fear and frustration of a labor gone wrong, felt the sting of contempt....

Every midwife has locked a door behind her, and in the pain of a broken spirit shaken her fists to the empty sky and cried, "Why? Why am I doing this? I can't stay awake another night! I can't face another transport! I can't bear the guilt of my household's collapse! I can't go on...."

Every midwife has looked at strength, courage, and beauty in the face of a laboring woman and witnessed the power of love between two people, silent, single-minded, bringing life!

Every midwife has heard words like, "You have made it so special," "We will never forget you," "I couldn't have done it without you." She has felt amazed at her personal growth and how she has stretched far beyond what she felt capable of....

Every midwife sees pride in the eyes that once were accusing, feels cherished by the one who once was sulking, knows "why" she has chosen to bear the name midwife.

- Linda Elsbernd

Teaching and practicing what she teaches, [the traditional midwife] offers the same information to the birthing woman she attends that she offers to her own apprentice. Her entire practice operates by providing information to women about how to maintain their soundest health and wholeness and strength, by creating an environment that is life-supporting. Her allies include simple forms of nourishment in keeping with the simplicity that nature anticipates as an environment for birthing: whole life-giving foods; herbs; deep, slow abdominal breathing; touch, massage, and interaction with water; walking outside. These forms of nourishment provide a woman with ways to learn to care for herself and accept nourishment from others, and offer sustenance to herself and her unborn baby.

- Sher Willis

As midwives it is important to remember at every point of our practice that we are blessed with the opportunity to help others realize the most treasured memory of their lives.

- Jan Tritten

LIFE OF A MIDWIFE: All the preceding excerpts were taken from this wonderful Midwifery Today book. Nearly 100 pages of insight, support, wisdom, and resources.

GRACIOUS BIRTHS: read midwife Judy Edmunds' stunning article about the meaning of midwifery care.

THE WORLD HAS BECOME A GLOBAL VILLAGE. With this freedom to share information comes the ability to travel and relocate. When midwives move from one country to another, they should, with equivalent education and credentials, be able to practice their profession wherever they live. Click here to read more.


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A Web Site Update for E-News Readers

CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL MIDWIVES DAY on May 5: Treat yourself to a subscription to Midwifery Today magazine, beautiful midwifery jewelry, "Life of a Midwife" (a Midwifery Today book), or any of numerous products and services available on the Midwifery Today web site. Go to and click on the shopping cart icon to use our secure online shopping area.

INTERNATIONAL MIDWIFE is a section in every issue of Midwifery Today. Read birth stories, read about midwifery in other countries, get to know birth practices from around the world.

THE PREMIER ISSUE OF "HAVING A BABY TODAY" NEWSLETTER, a Midwifery Today publication, is now online, in PDF format.

Midwifery Intensive with Traditional Mexican Midwife Doña Irene Sotelo: Monday August 27-Friday, August 31, 2001.

Midwifery Today's Online Forum

Does anyone have experience with raspberry leaf?

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So much information and so little time!

Let MIDIRS help you keep up to date with the latest midwifery related information with our "New Member" service.

MIDIRS collects references from 1000s of journals, Internet sites, databases and other sources of midwifery related topics and research information.

If you would like unlimited access to this information on-line, click on our link to find out more:

Question of the Week

I am a doula and have a client who had two previous c-sections with large babies and really wants to try for a vaginal birth. What information and support can you offer? She plans to have a hospital birth.

- Amy

Send your responses to:

Question of the Week Responses

Q: How do you feel about attending a birth for a patient who is overweight? Does it affect decisions made during the labor, attention needed, or anything else?

- Anon.

A: Just as the body knows exactly what to do to develop a new human being inside the uterus, the birth is also taken care of. As birth assistants we really just need to be there for the woman, supportive and encouraging, to make it easy for the woman to move with her labor.

I have supported women of different shapes and forms and there is no difference in my task at all. I might get more of a workout helping her in and out of the bath, but the core of labor and birth is for the woman to surrender. Weight is not a factor.

- Greta

A: I ask midwives to think about the actual clients you have served (not the statistics you have read in books). What real complications have you seen in larger numbers in women who weigh more? I don't think I have seen more complications among bigger women than smaller women. In fact, while I don't have any special concerns working with fatter women, I do have some concerns working with thinner women who may need more help to eat enough, and more help with recovery after the birth.

Recent studies show that weight alone is probably not a good predictor of overall health or life span. It is activity level and quality of diet that play much stronger roles. So I discuss good nutrition and exercise with ALL my clients and take care to emphasize the importance of eating freely and eating often.

I realize that I work with a relatively small number of women, so I wondered if studies that point to poor health in fatter women might not play out in my practice but might be true in the larger world. If there are more health problems caused by fat, I can see two obvious causes that are rarely discussed. First of all, fat people--especially fat women--are regularly discriminated against in our culture. Many health problems of fat women could be due to an important and medically acknowledged cause of poor health: stress.

Like other members of oppressed groups, many fat patients avoid seeking healthcare because they either assume they will get another lecture on weight loss or that accommodations will not meet their needs.

Finally, I think it is important to mention some points on providing good healthcare to fat women. Always have a large blood pressure cuff among your supplies. Using a cuff that is too small is uncomfortable for the client and gives falsely high BP readings (probably partially to blame for the perception that fatness and high blood pressure are linked). Also, please think about this point: For most people Diets Do Not Work. Most fat women have tried to lose weight at some point in their lives. Most of those women have gained weight back. Numerous studies have shown that yo-yo dieting is extremely unhealthy. Let's stop emphasizing weight loss for health and instead emphasize good health for all.

For more information about these issues check out these fat-positive web sites:

- Anon.

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Austin Area Birthing Center has openings for experienced , dedicated student midwives starting in June. A room is available in the center. Send your resume to (512) 345-6637 or email to
Check out our web site at :


My homebirth VBAC inspired me to pursue midwifery. After a couple of years following that dream, I decided to stick with my earlier career path in environmental advocacy. In the meantime, however, I'd become a doula. So far, I've only attended women in the hospital, which has seemed a bit strange, given my love of homebirth. Yet I feel very happy and fulfilled with my work because I am able to bring tenderness and attention to the birthing woman that I think would otherwise be missing in a hospital setting. Intervention levels have run the gamut, from basically none, to induction, Pitocin augmentation, epidural, and c-section. So the main thing I focus on is nurturing, encouraging, and reaffirming my clients, as my midwife did for me. I think of the pregnancy, birth, and early postpartum period as the soil in which a new family, like a garden, will grow. If I can help enrich that soil so it contains ample quantities of love, self-confidence, hopefulness, and a sense of accomplishment, then I am doing my job.

- Mollie Matteson

MAY IS DOULA MONTH! Doulas, please submit a one-paragraph philosophy of doula practice to E-News, or a one-paragraph description of why your work is important, or aspiring doulas, submit a one-paragraph "Why I Want to be a Doula" description to E-News. Be succinct, feel free to cite studies and experience, or be poetic, speak from the heart! We will publish as many as we can fit throughout the month of May!

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Know a strong woman? Helping empower one? If you haven't already done so, please forward this issue of Midwifery Today E-News to one or two of your friends or business associates. Thanks so much!


International Connections


I am a student midwife getting ready for an apprenticeship. I am considering a trip to Jamaica for hands-on experience. I would appreciate any information from someone who has apprenticed there and can speak from experience. Is there anyone who could let me know what it's really like?

- Amy
Reply to:


From April 14 to 18, 2002 the 26th Triennial Congress of the International Confederation of Midwives will take place in Vienna, Austria. The call for abstracts and second announcement can be found at:
Deadline for abstract submission: 30.5.2001
For questions:
Order of copies of second announcement:
Congress organizer
Wiener Medizinische Akademie
Alserstr. 4, A 1090 Vienna
Tel: +43 1 405 13 83 11 , Fax: +43 1 407 8274
e-mail: If you want to make contact to the Commercial Exhibition:
Medizinsche Ausstellungsgesellschaft
Freyung 6, A 1010 Vienna

- Dorothea Rueb
Org. Committee, ICM Congress 2002


INTERNATIONAL MIDWIVES, please direct your questions, comments, and needs to "International Connections." We're here to help you!


I am 15 years old and I am going to be a midwife. Do you know where to find out about midwifery schools or what I should do about school?

- Mandi

The only NACC-certified birthing center in the state of Michigan, the Family Birthing Center at Providence Hospital, is scheduled to close on June 1, 2001. This center, owned and run by Providence Hospital, has been open since 1979 and has been the birthplace of nearly 7000 babies. We need as many letters as possible written to the following individuals (in the order of importance):

Dr. Robert Welch/ Chair of OBGYN
Robert Casalou/ CEO of Providence Hospital
Rochelle Igrison/ Director of Women's Services
Sister Catherine Kelly/ VP of Missions and Ethics
16001 W. Nine Mile Rd.
Southfield, MI 48075

How does IV antibiotic treatment in labor for positive Group B Strep affect the newborn infant? I have not been able to find any information besides that it takes at least four hours for antibiotic levels in the amniotic fluid to be high enough to take effect. I ask because a few moms who have had treatment have said that they had problems with thrush for several months after the baby's birth.

- Kathy

More information on the pending legislation in Oregon [Issue 3:16]:

To read the proposed legislation, go to Click on Legislature, Bills/Laws (top of page), 2001 regular session, Search for Specific Measure. Check Senate Bill, type in 730 in the box, hit search. When the page comes up, click on Introduced. To contact your legislator on this matter, the home page will lead you to how to find out who your legislator is and where to contact him/her.

When licensing was first proposed, we were told that it would be beneficial not only to midwives but to the women they serve, as insurance would then pay for midwifery care. As it turned out, women had to be referred by a physician to a midwife. Licensing fees have increased dramatically, and who is in charge of licensing seems to change yearly.

The new legislation would authorize midwives to purchase and administer certain drugs. While on the surface this may seem like a good idea, one has only to look to our sister midwives in California to know that it is not. Recent changes were made in their laws because midwives were having great difficulty getting physician backup. The law was changed, but midwives are required to carry Pitocin (which they cannot get without a prescription from a cooperative physician). The wording of the law has changed, but not the reality of practicing.

The proposed legislation does not state that carrying and administering these drugs will be mandatory. It does state that continuing education "must include training in the use of legend drugs and devices." I assume this to mean that all licensed midwives will be required to do this even if they have no intention of using these drugs. And as past experience has shown, it will not be long before it will be mandatory to carry the items in order to be licensed.

This legislation also states that "After consultation with the Board of Medical Examiners for the State of Oregon and the State Board of Pharmacy, adopt rules to authorize licensed midwives to purchase and administer legend drugs and devices in addition to those authorized." And there you have it! Now we've got the Board of Medical Examiners in our business!

I do not mean to be an alarmist, but we have seen time and time again where this road will lead us. We have seen it in other states as well as other countries. More rules and more outside control will do us more harm than good. I would not be surprised if we were to see non-licensed midwives become illegal in the near future. This will follow with cease and desist orders for those who are licensed. History will repeat itself. We are not immune to the same problems that plague midwives across the country.

I urge everyone to take a look at this bill as soon as possible and to contact their legislators to let them know whether you are for or against it.

- PeriAn Wilson

In response to the question about flax seed oil [Issue 3:16], nutritionist Marilyn Shannon encourages its use in her book "Managing Morning Sickness."

- Kathy

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