Cervical adhesions: It is not unusual to find hard spots on the cervix during examination
of a woman in labor. If the woman does not have condylomas, most often what you
are feeling are small cervical scars from previous births or gynecological procedures.
The use of instruments for dilating the cervix or delivering the baby often causes
small tears to occur, as well as women pushing their babies out prematurely (before
complete dilation). These adhesions most often will break down during the active
phase of labor. If you feel they are causing lack of progress (the woman remains
at 5 to 6 cm for over an hour), you might consider simply pressing the adhesion
against the presenting part during a contraction. You will feel the adhesion break
up under your finger. This causes no pain and readily resolves the problem. There
may be a spot of blood as this is done, but this is of no concern. The labor will
usually progress rapidly after the adhesion is gone.
- Valerie El Halta, Midwifery Today Issue No. 46
I recommend that midwives change their notion of what is happening in the pushing
phase with a primip from "descent of the head" to "shaping of the
head." Each expulsive sensation shapes the head of the baby to conform to
the contours of the mother's pelvis. This can take time and lots of patience especially
if the baby is large. This shaping of the baby's skull must be done with the same
gentleness and care as that taken by Michelangelo applying plaster and shaping
a statue. This shaping work often takes place over time in the mid-pelvis and
is erroneously interpreted as "lack of descent," "arrest"
or "failure to progress" by those who do not appreciate art. I tell
mothers at this time, "It's normal to feel like the baby is stuck. The baby's
head is elongating and getting shaped a little more with each sensation. It will
suddenly feel like it has come down." This is exactly what happens.
Given time to mold, the head of the baby suddenly appears. This progression
is not linear and does not happen in stations of descent. All those textbook diagrams
of a pelvis with little one-centimeter gradations up and down from the ischial
spines could only have been put forth by someone who has never felt a baby's forehead
passing over his/her rectum!
Often the mother can sleep deeply between sensations and this is most helpful
to recharge her batteries and allow gentle shaping of the babe's head. Plain water
with a bendable straw on the bedside table helps keep hydration up. The baby is
an active participant and must not be pushed and forced out of the mother's body
until he/she is prepared to make the exit.
- Gloria Lemay (To read this article in its entirety, click here)
[Ina May Gaskin] and the women of the community she serves turned away from
paternalistic, fear-based medicine. They have their babies, with certain exceptions
at home, and promote an acceptance of birth as natural and holy. In her book Spiritual
Midwifery under "Slow Progress During the First Stage," she states,
"You don't have to have any preconceived notions about what is too long for
the first stage. If the mother is replenishing her energy by eating and sleeping,
rushes [contractions] are light, the baby's head is not being tightly squeezed
and the membranes are still intact, the first stage can stretch over three or
four days and still be perfectly normal."
- Marion Toepke McLean, Midwifery Today Issue 46
Should labor commence with baby occipitoposterior (OP), time spent early on
in deep knee-chest position, with legs spread wide, may effect rotation. Other
tricks to consider are duck walking, stair climbing with one leg abducted, lunging,
quarter-squatting or hula-style belly dancing. If these don't work, consider the
uncomfortable intervention of internal manual conversion to anterior. Invasive?
Very. And effective. Sure, many women push out wee ones sunny-side up with little
fuss. I am convinced that multips who have ample pelvises with a history of happy
births can do positively anything! However, the diminutive mom with a large baby,
previously sectioned for failure to progress with a smaller, persistent posterior
babe, is a poor candidate for watchful waiting. By getting close to our clients,
we learn who would benefit from assertive action and who we can simply sit on
our hands with. Though not often needed, internal manual conversion is an example
of a strongly interventive, briefly painful technique that may avert an even worse
outcome: a brutal, protracted, traumatic labor with a surgical conclusion.
- Judy Edmunds, Midwifery Today Issue 46
TO ORDER BACK ISSUES OF MIDWIFERY TODAY, use our secure online shopping area.
Please Support Our Advertisers
Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology
Develop your passion: become a pioneer in Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology
and Somatic Psychology. Earn your MA or Ph.D. on weekends in Santa Barbara with
Pre- and Perinatal Psychology reveals that our earliest experiences profoundly
shape the core blueprint of our being. This perspective can add tremendous depth
to a wide variety of healing arts, educational and professional work, or become
a primary specialty.
Santa Barbara Graduate Institute, www.sbgi.edu
Check It Out!
A Web Site Update for E-News Readers
Valued E-News subscribers!
We want to share our new international organization and work with you.
The International Alliance of Midwives (IAM) is an online organization for everyone
interested in better birth. It is designed for networking, exchanging ideas and
projects and helping each other globally.
Special for E-News subscribers only: Join IAM by May 19, 2001 and get your year's membership for only $15 (regularly $20), a 25% savings.
We really hope you will join us in this great endeavor. Make it easy on yourself
and use our new secure shopping cart to pay for your membership. We hope you enjoy
our first issue of the IAM newsletter!
Save $5 on a one- or a two-year IAM membership.
Offer good only on orders processed through our
secure shopping cart.
* Enter code 1597 when you check out.
* Hurry! This offer expires May 19, 2001.
* Only one per customer.
HOME SWEET HOMEBIRTH
and many other T-shirt and tote bag designs are available on the Midwifery Today web site!
THE PREMIER ISSUE OF "HAVING A BABY TODAY" NEWSLETTER, a Midwifery Today publication, is now online in PDF format.
Please Support Our Advertisers
You believe in natural childbirth...
Now learn to teach HypnoBirthing® for calm, confident, comfortable pregnancy and birthing.
An empowering 4-day class for midwives, nurses, doulas, childbirth educators and others in maternal services.
Program details and current class schedule listed at www.hypnobirthing.com
For other classes in development, contact: 804-346-0784 or email@example.com
Ask about our hosting option to earn FREE tuition!
Midwifery Today's Online Forum
I am going to do a self-study program next year and then the year after am hoping
to do an apprenticeship. I live in Tennessee and would like to stay in the area.
If anyone knows anyone who I can contact I would love to hear from you. I would
also love to hear the stories of some who are in training or finished.
To share your thoughts and experience, go to Midwifery Today's Forums. Click on "Aspiring Midwife Chat" and "Apprenticeships."
PLEASE DO NOT SEND YOUR RESPONSES TO E-NEWS!
Question of the Week
I have a student (Bradley) with a fibroid so large it is causing her great pain.
She is 18 weeks and was recently hospitalized for it. It was recommended that
she quit work for a while. It is located on the left side of her uterus. She desires
more information on fibroids, and other than Anne Frye's book, Holistic Midwifery,
I don't seem to have anything more for her. Does anyone out there have any information?
She wishes to do things as naturally as possible, but understands some of her
choices may be limited.
- Amy V. Haas, BCCE
Send your responses to:
Question of the Week Responses
Q: 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.
A: I'm a newly practicing doula and the first birth I attended was for
an attempted VBAC after a large babe. In the end my client had an (unneeded, in
my opinion) c-section. What is the climate at the hospital? Are her doctor and
the doctor on call truly supportive of VBACs? After the birth my client's doctor
told her he thought she would have a cesarean but didn't want to discourage her.
Sadly, his negative attitude unconsciously showed through with his interventions
and meddling. Be aware how greatly you can influence your client but also be aware
there will be other influences at the birth.
- Madelene Doring
A: I'm a mom of four daughters (pregnant w/fifth). I had my first two
by c-section after laboring and pushing, because they were too large. When I got
pregnant with my third I was determined to have a vaginal birth. I found a doctor
who was supportive and a doula who could offer encouragement. I did a lot of reading
on VBAC and believed I could do it. My doctor kept a close eye on the baby's weight
and decided to induce me at 38 wks. After 15 hours of labor and 15 minutes of
pushing my beautiful daughter was born and weighed in at 7 lbs. 15oz. My fourth
was even easier. My midwife worked on my cervix, massaging with evening primrose
oil, and I did a lot of squats. At 38.5 weeks I went into labor and six easy hours
later my fourth beautiful daughter was born and weighed 8 lbs. 3oz. Having a vaginal
birth has been the most wonderful experience. You can do it!
A: As a doula, I, too, have been in this situation several times. Specific
questions to ask your client and her physician are:
1) Does she have such a small pelvis that the care provider is hesitant she
could ever deliver vaginally?
2) What was the weight of her two previous babies and could she have an ultrasound
at 36 weeks to estimate the fetal size?
3) Providing she is healthy and the fetus is of appropriate size, an induction
is always a possibility. [Editor's note: Midwifery Today does not support routine
4) What were the specific reasons for her previous sections? Any other contributing
factors that had nothing to do with fetal size?
Above and beyond the possibility of a repeat section, assure her that she is
not a failure, that she worked very hard to carry the baby to term, and that ultimately,
the outcome we all want is a healthy, happy baby and family.
- Kelly Merrow, Doula
Doulas of North America
A: I'm preparing to become a doula. I had two sons (22 & 18), the
first one by c-section, the second a natural delivery. The advice I have is the
1. Go to the hospital; don't try a home birth.
2. If the time between the previous pregnancy and this one is less than three
years, a natural delivery can be a problem.
3. Your client must prepare for this birth even more than if this was her first
one. She must have a very good and healthy diet and exercise regularly. More important,
she must clear her mind of fear or anything that might have interfered with the
two previous births. I did rebirthing, a therapy technique based on breathing
that helped me immensely, not only to release fears, doubts and other ghosts,
but especially to develop new thought patterns of confidence and purpose.
4. Your client must truly understand all phases of the birthing process and
what she can do to succeed in each phase.
5. Your client needs you to be especially reassuring, nourishing and supportive.
There are risks involved in trying to deliver after c-sections but they are not
obstacles and they can all be anticipated and prevented.
6. Don't rush to the hospital as soon as labor begins. Take time at home with
warm baths and a calm atmosphere. I started my last son's labor in the early morning,
and I went to the hospital only when I was already about 8 cm dilated. I arrived
at the hospital at 3:00 am the following morning and my son was born at 5:30 am.
At 7:30 am I was able to return home with my baby!
7. Massage therapy has a lot to offer your client if she is open to touch. It
can help her mind/body connection, and it can provide a safe space in which she
can relax and activate her self-healing powers.
- Elza Suely Anderson
In Celebration of Doulas
Even if I never attend the birth, knowing I helped inform, comfort and support
a pregnant woman gives me great joy! I feel this is what I was born to do. When
I got started I thought I would have aspirations to become a midwife, but being
"just" a doula fills me to the top with happiness. I love that I'm helping
to bring birth back to basics. Being a doula is like watching the heavens open--you
witness the coming of angels. The passion I feel about pregnancy and birth is
only overcome by the love I have for my own sweet angels here at home. Doulas
fill depleted reservoirs and uplift, comfort, acknowledge and guide with gentle
hearts, strong hands and souls of light.
When I look into a birthing woman's eyes during labor and see my sister, mother,
daughter and close friend, I know I am needed. A laboring woman deserves full
attention and, in hospital births, needs protection. Her partner usually needs
reassurance and a normal and stress-free birth is of paramount importance to their
baby. I try to offer the element that I lacked with my first birth without a doula
and provide the security, comfort and understanding that I reveled in during my
- Deb Wood, ICCE DONA
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!
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!
I wish to help a friend who lives in Geneve, Switzerland. She's 24 weeks pregnant
and having a very difficult time with the system. She has been unable to locate
a midwife to provide continual care (she plans a hospital delivery). Every time
she goes in for prenatal care she is subjected to long ultrasound scans (every
doctor wants to see for themselves.) Most recently she was told the two midwives
who work for the hospital (apparently there is a shortage) will be on vacation
at the time she will deliver, so most likely she will be attended by the resident
on call that day, unless of course she wants to choose an OB/Gyn to be her care
provider. My first thought was "Wow! Really? In Switzerland?"
What can she do?
INTERNATIONAL MIDWIVES, please direct your questions, comments, and needs to
"International Connections." We're here to help you!
STUDY IN JAMAICA WITH ELIZABETH DAVIS!
Heart & Hands Midwifery Intensives will join this summer with the Midwives Cultural
Exchange, Oracabessa Birth Center, to offer a month-long program combining Elizabeth's
teachings and clinical experience with Jamaican birthing mothers, from mid-June
to mid-July. Be a part of this exciting opportunity! VERY limited space available...contact
firstname.lastname@example.org , or email@example.com.
Visit our website at www.birth-sex.com
for information on Women's Mysteries, sexuality, current publications, and the
National Midwifery Institute, Inc.
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?
In response to Kathy's question about antibiotics affecting infants [Issue 3:18],
there is a huge increase in yeast infection and thrush. With my second child I
was given one dose of antibiotics about 4-6 hours before her birth. We never suffered
any lasting effects. With my son we had two doses four hours apart before birth.
He had a serious yeast infection around his legs and testicles about a week later
and we suffered thrush for several months.
There is also a debate about using prophylactic antibiotics and creating resistant
bacteria. I'm sure this would be true for the bacteria that babies are subjected
- Chantel, doula
In response to Arts of Midwifery [Issue 3:18] about foot care during pregnancy:
I emailed the information to a friend who is seven months pregnant and having
foot pain. She was a little alarmed to hear about using peppermint oil because
she read on a web site that it was to be avoided.
The web site specifically said that peppermint oil is a uterine stimulant; avoid
the oil entirely, although low doses of the dried herb can be used.
Can you please clear that up for us?
I also noticed that the web site read Raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus): A uterine
stimulant in high doses; best limited to the final six to eight weeks and during
I have suggested this herb to many people and have heard many things about it
helping to tone the uterus and cervix. I am really scared to think that I may
have contributed to a miscarriage in early pregnancy (which did happen with another
friend of mine). Please let me know if you have information proving its effectiveness
In response to the 3/28 question on breech births: Unfortunately I can't help
with information on breech births 100 years ago, but I do know of a midwifery
trick of 700 years ago: From a graduate course on life in 14th century France,
I learned that midwives were known to use a candle flame on the emerging foot
of a footling breech to coerce the babe into pulling his foot back in and hopefully
staying in a more manageable, complete breech position. Unfortunately I don't
have a historical citation, but it does seem possible given these women really
had no other recourse.
- Bethany Karn, CBE
I have a question on evening primrose oil: From what I have heard and read,
EPO is a very positive aid for women after 36 weeks gestation. Can they take it
before? Can you give me information on EPO so I can forward it to our local pharmacist
who is not recommending it for expecting moms no matter how many weeks gestation they are.
- Linda Middleton
When I read Ms. Elsbernd's piece on midwives' connection to
their moms and to their mission [Issue 3:18], I found I could relate directly
as a doula. I have experienced everything Ms. Elsbernd wrote about. She could
insert the word doula in each place she used the word midwife and it would be
a perfect article for any doula publication. I couldn't have said it better. I
feel incredibly lucky to have found this profession (thank you, Kathy Thomas!)
and the wonderful people I've met along the way--midwives, docs, nurses, other
doulas--and some of the loves of my life, whether moms or dads, life partners
or best friends, grandparents or significant others. My life has been blessed
each time I uttered to myself all the words Ms. Elsbernd wrote.
- Maura McKnight
Please tell us what state has good laws regarding midwifery so we can request
the same laws from our Oregon legislators. Time and again, it has been that "those
who WRITE the laws get what they want."
Reply to: Donna_Worden@monterey.edu
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out our web site at : www.austinabc.com
Midwifery Today E-News is published electronically every Wednesday. We invite your questions, comments and submissions. We'd love to hear from you!
Write to us at:
Please send submissions in the body of your message and not as attachments.
Click here to subscribe to Midwifery Today E-News
For all other matters contact Midwifery Today: PO Box 2672-940, Eugene OR 97402
Remember to share this newsletter
You may forward it to as many friends and colleagues as you wish--it's free!
For problems with your E-News subscription, or if you do not have Internet access: email@example.com
Please explain the exact problem when you write.
Learn even more about birth!
Subscribe to our quarterly print publication, Midwifery Today. Mention code 940 U.S.: $50 1 year $95 2 years
Canada/Mexico: $60 1 year $113 2 years
All other countries: $75 1 year $143 2 years
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-743-0974 for information on how to order.
To order Midwifery Today products mentioned in this issue, send a check or money order to:
Midwifery Today, Inc.
PO Box 2672-940
Eugene OR 97402 USA
To pay by Visa or MasterCard, send your information to: 1-800-743-0974 (orders only)
Fax: 541-344-1422 For other matters, you may call:
541-344-7438 Or email us:
Editorial for E-News:
Editorial for print magazine:
For all other matters:
This publication is presented by Midwifery Today, Inc., for the sole purpose of disseminating general health information for public benefit. The information contained in or provided through this publication is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be, and is not provided as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Midwifery Today, Inc., does not assume liability for the use of this information in any jurisdiction or for the contents of any external Internet sites referenced, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advertised in this publication. Always seek the advice of your midwife, physician, nurse or other qualified health care provider before you undergo any treatment or for answers to any questions you may have regarding any medical condition.
The content of E-News is copyrighted by Midwifery Today, Inc., and, occasionally, other rights holders. You may forward E-News by e-mail an unlimited number of times, provided you do not alter the content in any way and that you include all applicable notices and disclaimers. You may print a single copy of each issue of E-News for your own personal, noncommercial use only, provided you include all applicable notices and disclaimers. Any other use of the content is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Midwifery Today, Inc., and any other applicable rights holders.
© 2001 Midwifery Today, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Midwifery Today: Each One Teach One!