September 19, 2001
Volume 3, Issue 38
Midwifery Today E-News
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Shoulder dystocia. Breech birth. VBAC and Cesarean prevention. Prolonged labor. Complicated birth. Learn about these topics and more at the Midwifery Today conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S, March 21-25, 2002.



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Quote of the Week:

"Deep in the heart and soul of most women there is a yearning to experience birth as a natural expression of infinite love and creativity."

- Benig Mauger

The Art of Midwifery

My favorite oil to use for massage is purified jojoba oil. It is about 98% the same as sebum, our body's own natural oil, so it absorbs quickly, and it is the perfect carrier base for essential oils or Bach Flower Remedies. When I have a mother who is anxious, nervous, or terrified, I often place two droppersful of Rescue Remedy in the palm of my hand with about a tablespoon of jojoba oil and massage her shoulders, hands and/or feet. It works like a charm.

- Tracee Jackson


TRICKS OF THE TRADE conference audiotapes: We have 19 single or double tape sets in all! Listen to your friends and colleagues discuss numerous techniques for pregnancy and birth. Lively, informative, fascinating! Go to to view the list.

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News Flashes

Research involving 3,900 British men and women born in 1946 followed the participants from birth. Their intelligence was measured by a battery of tests at the ages of 8, 11, 15, 26, and 43. Increasing intelligence corresponded with increasing birth weight, until the age of 26. How intelligent the children were at 8 seemed to be the most important influence on later intelligence, the study found. Heavier babies went on to achieve higher academic qualifications. It is conjectured that well-built, well-nourished mothers tend to produce heavier babies.

- British Medical Journal January 2001


Editor's note: In the face of these sad and trying times, it seems appropriate to remember and honor the work of midwives, doulas, childbirth educators and all practitioners of goodbirth who give their time, heart, spirit and love so that our world, through peaceful birth, may learn to be a place of harmony, repose and love. I chose some peaceful stories to remind you of the high work you do.

In Switchboard you will find numerous letters received at Midwifery Today late last week, speaking so eloquently, from midwives' perspectives, of our American tragedy and how we can go forward with hope and healing. Let's do that, one birth at a time.


I tried to learn as much as I could about the customs of Siene's home, Samoa. During prenatal visits she showed me her beautiful bamboo birth mats, and we chose the special "lava-lava," a length of brightly colored fabric that must be wrapped around the mother after birth. We shopped together for the traditional food that men in the family prepare for the birthday feast.

I was called to her labor at a wee hour of the morning. Male relatives were in the kitchen cooking something that smelled wonderful. Other relatives, including children, were in the living room playing and singing to celebrate the event. When I walked into the birth room, Siene was smiling radiantly, sitting on her special mats, surrounded by the important women in her family. As another contraction began, she reclined into her mother's arms, gave me a big grin, and proceeded to voice her powerful yelling. When she was ready to push, she gave an enormous effort and we had an 11-pound baby lustily making her presence known in the world.

Later the grandmother announced that she had something important to say, so everyone became very quiet. A relative translated while the grandmother spoke to me: "When the Haoles [white people] came to our islands, they took the babies away from the grandmothers. Now we have come to this distant land, and this Haole woman has given back the babies to the grandmother." She then took my hands and kissed them and said, "Now you are Samoan."

- excerpted from "The Language of Love" by Valerie El Halta, Midwifery Today Issue 13


In the black of night on country roads with no invasive streetlights, the sky was so clear we felt we could reach up and touch the countless shining stars. In front of us was a blazing comet, streaking its path across the sky. At the same time, another incredible celestial display was occurring to the southeast, a staggeringly vivid lunar eclipse that steadily turned the friendly white face of the moon a dark, warning red. Wow. My attention was split right down the middle of two major life events--one for a family ahead expecting their new miracle of life and one playing out with unearthly glory in the sky above. I stopped the car; I just had to.

When I turned off the car and its lights, [my daughter] Marion and I stood there absorbing a sight the likes of which we will never see together again in our lifetimes....

We arrived in plenty of time, the birth went beautifully, and a few months later Marion received a thank-you card from the family addressing her as "little midwife."

- Casey Makela, Midwifery Today Issue 56


I had lunch today with a client who is moving to Georgia. She wants to become a midwife after having experienced birth at home. She had had three cesareans, two hospital births, and finally a homebirth.

This mother had a beautiful birth at home at age 41. Her 21-year-old son and her 2-year-old daughter surrounded her in birth, as did her mother, husband, and other children. Her birth was a beautiful, moving experience, one of those peaceful events that gives us strength to carry on as midwives.

She recalled that what touched her so much in labor were the small things that now mean so much to her. She remembers most the times when she would wipe her brow, and I would turn on the fan. She licked her lips, and I gave her a drink. Her husband's knee was bothering him so I gave him a pillow to cushion it as we knelt next to her while she was pushing. She remarked that a midwife safeguards normality in birth but does so much more--she tends to all the needs of the mother, be they medical, emotional, or spiritual.

- Lois Wilson, Midwifery Today Issue 50


When I arrived at the farm at 11:30 pm, the yard light illuminated the new-fallen snow. I entered the house through the creaky front door and saw a young girl asleep on the big, cushioned armchair. I took off my boots as silently as I could and headed for the only other light in the house, a faint glow coming from a nearby bedroom.

It took some time for my eyes to adjust. The room was perfectly quiet. I could see a toddler asleep in the crib at the end of the bed. The midwife smiled at me, then at the mom. Dad was on his knees next to the bed, waiting and watching. When a contraction came, mom wrapped her arms around him and they rocked together in quiet harmony.

Mom accomplished pushing as silently as the first stage....In what seemed like no time at all, the baby was crowning. Another small push and her head was with us. Then one more push and this lovely family expanded by one.

While the baby was being dried, she let out a small cat cry. The young one at the end of the bed awoke. For a short time, the four of them snuggled in the bed, getting to know each other while we waited for the placenta.

As we left in the predawn morning, the house was dark and the snow still slightly blue. When I finally reached my bed, I drifted off with the knowledge of the peace that can come with birth at home.

- excerpted from "Silent Night: A Doula's Testimony," by Debbie Young, The Birthkit Issue 25

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Question(s) of the Quarter for Midwifery Today Issue 60

What are strengths and weaknesses of your path to becoming a midwife? How does the current controversy over the various pathways to becoming a midwife affect your practice or your hopes for a practice? Do you have any specific thoughts about midwifery education?

Please submit your response by September 30, 2001 to
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OUR LOVING THANKS to all who wrote to Midwifery Today this week. These letters, all of which were received by Friday afternoon, are largely excerpted--my apologies--and speak of many feelings, experiences, and outlooks. Let us remember, as Chava D. put it, that every breath is an opportunity to express gratitude for life. Blessed be!

Sisterhood at the Philadelphia 2000 Conference

I am a doula and CBE in Nebraska and part of a medical response team standing by to go to New York to assist in the recovery effort. Even though I live far from ground zero, my participation in a waiting team has given me a deep heart for what is happening. My largest frustration is that the USA seems to be in such a hurry to get back to normal that we are forgetting that this is not over. We need complete healing, not just a band-aid.

- Leslie Hogberg, Omaha Rapid Response Team, CBE and doula


I pray that we won't make this horrific act even worse.

- Linda B. Jenkins, RN


America is whatever we dream it is--freedom from bondage, harsh rulers, a road to prosperity, freedom to choose who you will serve, what you will wear, who you will marry, where you will work. America was a dream to the men on board the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. It is still a dream to all of us today.

- Tabitha Hulett


I realize my problems are small compared to the people who have lost their lives and loved ones.

- Anon.


Shalom from Jerusalem, Israel. May this year be blessed with rejoicing, celebrating, joyous occasions and good health! May we all merit to bask in the radiance of a life-promoting, heart-opening year of understanding, cooperation and true peace--the kind we have yearned and hoped for throughout our long history....We in Israel can so much identify with the pain and shock in America .... We are thinking of you constantly. With immense gratitude we have acknowledged that it was miraculous that so many people were NOT killed.

We've been through the first Intifada, the Gulf War, and the loss of many dear beloved ones....But despite what you are exposed to by the media coverage of the Middle East, there is another side to life in Israel. There is the deeper perspective on life that everyone around us seems to have, that keeps us in touch with what really matters, what really counts, and makes us constantly count our blessings. Every breath is another opportunity to express one's gratitude to the Holy One for allowing us another day to try to live meaningfully. In other words, we try not to take anything or anyone for granted. And now, after the collapse of the Twin Towers I think many of you can identify with this need not to take anyone for granted....

I am overwhelmed by the inadequacy of my words in light of the staggering enormity of the loss of so many lives. I apologize for even attempting to write about something that has shocked the entire world so thoroughly, to our very core. All I really want to say is, if you love someone, tell them today! And we pray with tears from the depths of our hearts that the madness of hatred will be extinguished. Pray for Peace!!

- Chava Dumas


The hearts and thoughts of midwives in the West Highlands of Scotland go to you all in the USA, to our colleagues in all states who may have lost loved ones. Scotland and America mourned Lockerbie together, we now mourn with you for New York and Washington.

- Sue Chadney, midwife


We transported a client to the hospital last night....I don't know how to describe what I felt as I stood at the nursery window looking at this symbol of the Circle of Life that I helped bring into the world. Joy. Gratitude. Relief. Yet great sadness that little Asher (whose name means "Happy") was born into such a violent and hate-filled world.

When they came to take the baby to his mother, I felt numb. I couldn't move. As I stood there, I noticed the astounding number of babies who had been born there yesterday. I continued to feel sorrow for the world they were born into. But then I felt as if something in my soul just popped, and I saw the Hope that was placed all around the room.

There is an African-American hymn that says, "There is more Love somewhere. There is more Peace somewhere. There is more Hope somewhere. I'm going to keep on until I find it." I found some of it last night in that hospital.

My life is based on my belief that I *can* make a difference. My calling is here, with babies. I am a gatekeeper of life. I have been charged with the task of ensuring that babies are brought not only into a world of Love, Peace, and Hope, but that they are brought in *with* Love, Peace, and Hope. This is the biggest difference I can make. This is the biggest difference I *will* make.

- Kimberly Spencer


What we are all doing is vitally important. Only in a society where life and individuals are valued, where the young and the old are respected, revered and not victims, is life so treasured that no one would ever waste it. It is a privilege and a blessing to be able to worry about each individual making his/her way into this world and making the environment so celebratory and spiritual that no one would ever harm this new angel. It is imperative that we work in the U.S. to help mothers reclaim birth and serve as a model all over the world. Only when life is treasured will the killing stop.

- Barbara Hotelling, CIMS chair


Life Continues, Birth Continues

I was on my way home from a labor and birth of a first-time family. They asked us to come be with them late on Monday night. This family worked so well together, husband and wife loving and supporting each other. I tuned into NPR when I found out that, unbeknownst to me, the sky truly was falling for some families ... I thought how odd it was that as this family labored away in "birth time" all of this destruction had gone on. Life continues, birth continues.

[Later] I found to my deep sadness that Catherine Young, editor of The Compleat Mother, had lost her battle with breast cancer on Tuesday morning. My only hope is that she and her family also had no idea this was going on while they let go of each other. Our mothering and midwifery communities have truly suffered a blow. I can't begin to describe how Catherine's work affected my motherhood....

Catherine requested that in lieu of flowers, please boycott Nestle. My heart mourns both of these losses at the same time that I celebrate for a new sweet babe.

- Brandi Wood, Central Indiana


Ticime and many of the Mexican parteras are shocked for the tragedy involving so many Americans, extended to the whole world. Our sympathy, love and feelings of solidarity go to all of the members, midwives and North American friends. We are praying for the emotional recovery of those who lost family members and friends, and also we raise our thoughts for all violence to cease.

- Las Ticimes.(Maritza Balbuena, Ma. Elena Pacheco, Paulina Fernadez, Alina Bishop Lucila Garcia, Lourdes Bravo, Isabel Montes and Laura Cao-Romero)


One of the comments I heard is, what kind of a world are we bringing our children into and how can we bring children into a world like this? I think, more than ever, we need to bring children into this world. We will never know who will be the next greatest agent for peace. Who will have the gift of bringing others comfort and safety? When we bring children into this world and teach them the worthwhile and most admirable things in life and how to have strong and caring families, we do more for this world than most other things can.

- Pam Sorochan, Canada


My condolences to all the midwives in the USA and to all civilized people at the terrible disaster that has struck your country. I want you to know that many people outside the USA are in a state of shock at the terror and destruction that was perpetrated this week. Israelis learnt long ago that one cannot take a single day for granted, that we have to live out our lives as fully as possible, live ethically and help others less fortunate, and be grateful for what we have. I do not envy your president in making decisions about how to respond to this act of war. I hope that he will steer the world into a change toward peace so that our babies and children will grow up safely.

I feel sure that people will quickly regain their faith in the future, will continue to love each other and have babies, and your midwives will help them into a world where every soul has a right to live in security and freedom. Midwives, in helping the new generation into the world, must hold the flag of hope for the future. New parents must build that future with love and responsibility.

- Michele


As a Long Islander, a New Yorker, an American, a citizen of the world and a mother, the events of Tuesday are so very difficult to accept and understand. But it is new birth that will give us strength and empower us -- empower the mothers to make the world a better place!

- Deirdre Bambrick-Oriani


I am attending NYU midwifery program, my daughters and I live in the East Village and have witnessed the love and support our community has to offer. Sat. before 9/11 I was at the NYU hospital doing a clinical on the labor and delivery unit. A child was born; the mother, father, and doctor within seconds of birth were on their cell phones while the little miracle struggled to blink her eyes under the layer of antibiotics that was administered by the "nurse." I left the hospital and walked home 23 blocks; as I cried I realized it was because I felt helpless, insignificant, and alone. Tuesday morning found me in the very same hospital for a med-surg clinical. We were allowed to leave and be with our families by 2 PM, after this experience I walked home 23 blocks feeling helpless, insignificant, and alone. Keep the faith.

- Anon.


We in the midwifery directorate here at the University of Salford wish to send a message of condolence and deepest sympathy to all our colleagues and their friends and families who have been touched by the terrible atrocities of September 11. Two of us attended a Midwifery Today conference in New York and it was a heartwarming, life-enhancing experience for us which we will always treasure. We were welcomed by midwives from all over the world at the conference. We were also welcomed by the people of New York who were invariably friendly and helpful, spontaneously stopping to help us when we were lost. The shock, grief and sympathy expressed by people here reminds us how closely linked we all are and we hope that these horrific events will not result in further divisions between ordinary people of all creeds and colours.

- Sarah Davies, midwifery lecturer


As the first plane struck the World Trade Center I was helping a first-time mum ease her child into the world. For me this was most poignant--as a new life was celebrated that of so many were being mourned.

- Helen, midwife, Ipswich


Being involved in childbirth is the only thing I can think of as a possible antidote to this horror.... On the street and in the subways, you see people bursting into tears and strangers putting their arms around them. There are impromptu vigils happening everywhere....

- Suzanne Fremon, doula


I on behalf of my midwifery colleagues at United Hospitals Trust, Antrim, Northern Ireland send sincere condolences for your loss in this time of grief. Having grown up in this small place where terror has gripped us for so long I believe there is not one of us who cannot identify with the terrible feeling of insurmountable grief, loss and vindication which has been forced upon you by forces completely beyond your knowing or control. As individuals and as a country you now feel vulnerable and wounded and we as fellow midwives send our thoughts and prayers to you at this tortuous time.

- Claire Greenlees


Terrorism is a part of our everyday life here [in Israel], and I feel a personal responsibility to making every birth I attend, Arab or Jewish, a peaceful hopeful birth, even though this has been difficult at times, especially following terrorist attacks. The hospital where I work serves both populations almost equally {quantity wise} and although as a midwife, a women in labour has that basic base of the ultimate human and holy experience, feelings are complicated. Our New Jewish Year started on Monday evening so I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone everywhere a year of peace, of security, health, happiness and prosperity. May we have more in common and less animosity, a year of wonderful happy and healthy births.

- Lauren


I am the director of the Metropolitan Doula Group, a support group for doulas in NYC. Many of our doulas will be looking for support. Our greatest concern right now is that we will be supporting women in labor whose partners and/or loved ones were lost in the tragedy at the World Trade Center. While many of us have taken workshops and had training in bereavement when there is a loss concerning the baby, most of us are feeling very lost in face of the enormity of what we have experienced here. We wonder how this will affect a woman's labor? Are we looking at premature births? Post-dates? Insistence on general anesthesia? Or basic primal fear that the building the woman is birthing in is about to explode? The range of possibilities boggles the mind. One birth professional I spoke with feels certain that the laboring woman's ability to reach the wisdom within will be completely unavailable to her. Another thinks some women may feel that the baby will reunite them with the spirit of their lost loved one.

I have spoken with personal contacts in four hospitals and two birth centers that are aware that doulas are available to support these women in birth on an on-call basis. Maternity Center Association has been reached as well. Doulas from all over the country are already contacting me to ask how they can help.

My initial thoughts are to set up a call schedule for two doulas a week to take any calls that come in either through our website ( or our phone line. Once we are organized and clear about who's on call, I will go to the press and the proper agencies and let them know we are available. I'm hopeful that they will spread the information that women in need can find us. I foresee that our services will be most valuable over the next nine months.
If you can offer anything in the way of resources, words of support and encouragement, please do. Are there books and articles you think might be helpful? Anything you can share will be helpful. What works especially well?

We will provide doula services to women who've lost their partners or loved ones for free. DONA has donated $1,000 to help us pay for essential expenses. We don't anticipate a greater financial need than that. Words of support to our doulas would be welcomed at

- Ilana Stein, CD (ALACE, DONA)


EDITOR'S NOTE: Only letters sent to the E-News official email address,, will be considered for inclusion. Letters sent to ANY OTHER email addresses will not be considered.

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