May 1, 2002
Volume 4, Issue 18
Midwifery Today E-News
“International Midwives Day”
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Midwifery Today Conferences

DOULA PROGRAM IN CHINA is one of the presentations you will hear when you attend the Midwifery Today conference in Guangzhou.

"Healthy Birth"
Guangzhou, Guangdong, CHINA: June 7-9, 2002.

Get the full program online. The three-day conference will have components of Midwifery Today conferences as well as the presentation of several papers. Chinese doctors have been asked to arrange for midwives to be present as well as doctors, and it has been noted that we are interested in Chinese medicine. A hospital focused on the practice of Chinese medicine is located across the street from Shamin Island, where our venue is located.

INNOVATIVE MIDWIVES: Midwifery Today literally searches the world for them. Then we bring those midwives to you for the most in-depth learning experiences.

"Five-Day Intensive Workshops"
Eugene, OREGON: August 26-30, 2002

Get the full program online. Choose from one of two intensive workshops:

  • "Working with Women - The Heart of Midwifery Care" with Verena Schmidt from Italy
  • "Shiatsu for Midwives" with Suzanna Yates from England

"Revitalizing Midwifery"
The Hague, THE NETHERLANDS: November 13-17, 2002.

Get the full program online. A two-day midwifery education conference precedes three days of international conferencing.



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Quote of the Week

"We must give women the opportunity to challenge their fears, work with them, and birth through them. Not only will this change each woman, it will change the political and medical climate in which they make these choices."

- Connee L. Pike-Urlacher

The Art of Midwifery

For herbs to help restore the body's balance after a miscarriage, my favorite recipe is licorice root, sarsaparilla, blessed thistle, black haw (or cramp bark), and squaw vine (partridge berry). Mix equal parts and take one heaping tablespoon in boiling water in this way: week 1, 1 cup a day; week two, one cup every other day; then progress to letting three days go by between cups, and finally choose a day for your last cup.

- Raven, Midwifery Today Forums

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

News Flashes

Researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine searched the Utah Population Database to identify a study group of 298 men and 237 women born between 1947 and 1957 whose mothers had preeclampsia during their pregnancy. They identified 947 offspring of the men and 830 of the women. Characteristics of the pregnancies were compared with those of matched control subjects unaffected by preeclampsia and their offspring. In the male study group, 2.7% of offspring were the product of a pregnancy complicated by preeclampsia, compared with 1.3% of offspring of male controls. For women, the rates were 4.7% in the study group and 1.9% in the control group. Researchers concluded that there is a paternal as well as a maternal component to the predisposition to preeclampsia.

- N. Engl. J. Med. 2001 344:867-872, 925-926

Get into the HABT!

Midwifery Today is proud to present Having a Baby Today!

Are you a midwife, doula or other birth professional? Check out Having a Baby Today and make sure your clients have the information they need to make responsible, informed choices.

Celebrating International Midwifery


This is a story of a 9-year-old boy who woke up on the Three Kings' night and got the most beautiful present he could imagine. He witnessed the birth of a baby, his nephew. He saw two strong women, brave, alone. He saw how the mother hugged her daughter and helped her grandson be born. No men were present, just women and two male children -- the newborn and the one who was watching through a crack in the door. The others were not aware of the boy's presence. Nobody saw him, but for the boy that was the best present ever. He saw something magical, secret, unforgettable, something that filled his eyes with awe and admiration. The boy turned away and went to bed, but he couldn't sleep. He thought it would be wonderful to have those feelings forever. He wanted to see babies being born. Time passed and life made that boy's wish become a reality.

This is my story, the reason I assist homebirths. When I assist homebirths, my eyes still keep that boy's look. I'm amazed and full of admiration in the presence of birth. When I assist at a birth, I'm not there as a man but as a human being with the innocence of a child.

- Jésus Sanz

The Philippines

I have fought to save the life of a newborn and lost. I have held a dead infant in my arms and sobbed over the loss of her life. I will never forget the feel of her silky hair or the sound of her mother's anguished cries as we handed her a tiny bundle. I have slid down a wall, pulled my knees to my chest, and wished I was dead.

I have fought to save the life of a newborn and won. I have forced air into tiny lungs, seen her skin turn pink and her limbs flex. I rejoiced to see her lower lip quiver as she gathered her strength to scream in protest. I wrapped her up and gave her to her mother, who reached out for her child, crying with relief. I have fallen to my knees in gratitude, knowing that this life easily could have been taken. I have seen only a fraction of the poverty and suffering that is endured here daily, and it wrecks me. I have felt God's heart for the poor and I know with all that is in me that the love he holds for them is strong, tangible and unwavering.

- Amy, student midwife

United States

Strengthening midwifery for the future will require us to overcome our fears of professionalization. Without it, there would be no hospital-based midwifery care at all. If we want midwives to be available for our grandchildren and their children, we midwives will have to commit to high professional standards, to creating reliable mechanisms by which one can make a living at midwifery, and to being accountable to women for our practices. We will also have to accept responsibility to refer pregnant or laboring women to medical providers when we reach the limit of our expertise. Our goal should be autonomous practice regardless of setting. I would like to see a midwifery practice that is accountable to women and their needs rather than to corporate needs or to the requirements of other professions.

To those who believe gaining professional status means a necessary loss of autonomy, I would say the autonomy some homebirth midwives have now is extremely fragile in those states that have not yet legitimized the practice of direct-entry midwifery. Many midwives are still one fetal death away from discipline, not by their professional colleagues but by the criminal justice system. And when these midwives reach the end of their working years, there are not likely to be replacements for them unless we who are midwives now create the foundations for the future of midwifery. Individuals, regardless of talent and competence, cannot erect such foundations. It must be a cooperative effort.

- Ina May Gaskin


From the West we look to India for what our souls have lost. From here in the East there is a gaze toward the West for what glistens in the name of progress. The two worlds have offerings to make to one another, and from my vantage point of Southeast Asia I see the human spirit here being weakened in the exchange. With regard to childbirth, there are gains in the availability of emergency care, but the traditions around women's fertility and childbearing power are being highly threatened by the trend to give birth in a hospital setting...

There are 700,000 traditional healers and dais (midwives) in India. Seventy percent of the nation's babies are born at home, and the dai's work is a living tradition. Ironically, modern hospitals and public health clinics fully represent allopathic medicine. A precarious balance is being kept here between these paradigms of care. Women are being coerced and convinced by government advertising programs to leave the home and all that is traditional to give birth in environments that suggest safety and promise degradation. It is my feeling that we face a highly critical time here of losing a primal force -- an ancient way -- to a superficial, transient understanding of the birth process.

- Diane Smith


UNICEF began a small-scale program call Cultural Adaptation in Maternal Health. The program trained doctors and midwives to accept that mothers have fewer problems with delivery if they are at home, that the area must be warm and private, that most women prefer female providers and that most women want family members inside the delivery room. The project was able to help the Ministry of Health implement workshops to finally look at birth from the perspective of the mother.

Meanwhile, professional midwives were receptive to the idea of supervised birth, a practice that many midwives have used with great success. In a supervised birth, both the partera and obstetriz are present in the home or health center with the mother during delivery. In ideal circumstances in which there is sufficient trust between the two, the partera would actually attend the birth with the obstetriz present. Experience has shown that most obstetrices who work with parteras are informed early on of pregnant women in the community, thereby improving the chance for early and continued prenatal care. Parteras have much more respect and trust in the community and it behooves obstetrics to work with them. By the third year of the project, the number of reported maternal deaths was down dramatically.

- Ruth Madison

International Midwives Day is May 5

Tell E-News how your community or your community of birth practitioners and/or parents is celebrating International Midwives Day.

  • The Metropolitan Doula Group of New York will be hosting a party to celebrate International Midwives Day on Thursday, May 9, from 4-7pm. Over 600 New York-area midwives have been invited. Contact for more information.

Check It Out!

A Web Site Update for E-News Readers




Interested in international midwifery? Want to keep in touch with midwives and other birth professionals around the world? Then you need the International Alliance of Midwives!

Join today and you'll receive:

  • access to a searchable directory of IAM members
  • a subscription to the IAM newsletter, sent to you each quarter by e-mail

Sign up online today for a one-year or two-year IAM membership!

LIFE OF A MIDWIFE: A Celebration of Midwifery. One of Midwifery Today's best-loved books!

Midwifery Today magazine (a quarterly print publication): Honoring and supporting midwives for more than 16 years!

Midwifery Today's Online Forums: Seeking a German Midwife

I am moving to Munich, Germany soon and would like to find a midwife when I get there. Does anyone know of one or can anyone suggest a way that I might find one once I am there? I don't speak German, so I need to find an English-speaking midwife.

- Shari

Go to our forums to share your thoughts and experience.

Mothering magazine

Mothering magazine

Mothering celebrates the experience of parenthood as worthy of one's best efforts and fosters awareness of the immense importance and value of parenthood and family life in the development of the full human potential. As a readers' magazine, we recognize parents as the experts and wish to provide truly helpful information upon which parents can base informed choices.

For more information please visit

Question of the Week: Aromatherapy and Labor

Q: Will readers please share any tips/experiences for using aromatherapy during labor?

- Anonymous

Send your responses to:

Question of the Week Responses: Herbs for Hemorrhage

[Editor’s note: This is an edited version of this column when it was mailed May 1, 2002.]

Q: What are your favorite herbs (and amounts) for postpartum hemorrhage? What has not worked? Have you ever felt that you could not keep a hemorrhage under control with herbs and bimanual compression until a mother could be transported to a hospital?

- Amy Kieffer, student midwife

A: We have had very good luck with strong shepherd's purse tea. Two quarts of water and 2 handfuls of shepherd's purse is boiled for about 5 min, left to steep until cool (or until we need it -- whichever comes first), then is strained. We give it to mom only in the case of moderate to severe portpartum bleeding and hemorrhage. It works most of the time.


A: When I apprenticed I learned that the first treatment for a hemorrhage is to say loudly and clearly "STOP BLEEDING." Most women are in an altered state of consciousness, and sometimes this strategy is enough to stop a hemorrhage. I have used it with success. If this treatment doesn't work I've seen black cohosh do the trick. Occasionally a full bladder can cause a woman to bleed, and simply emptying the bladder will work.



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!

In response to mom's size and ability to birth [Issue 4:17]:
Many years ago before the use of scans we trusted the body to give us information. I must admit I was shocked when I watched a 4'10" woman birth a baby who topped the scales at a very healthy 14 lbs. Admittedly it was her sixth, but she was also lying down. So please in this wonderful age of active birth, ask yourself how "YOU" feel about childbirth, trust your body, keep upright and be positive about your ability.

- Ann Mcleod Taylor

I am a 4'9" woman who gave birth 8 months ago to my first baby. I had a vaginal birth with the aide of my doula using hypnobirthing. I did not have any drugs or episiotomy (but I did tear). My labor was easy, and delivery was very quick. My baby was 8 lbs. 12 oz. and very healthy. I for one believe height has nothing to do with prolonging a vaginal birth. If anything, it quickens it because your birth canal should be shorter (by assumption, not medically speaking). I am a true believer in relaxation! The more relaxed you can be and just let your body do its thing, the easier it will be for your baby to birth and for you to give birth.

- Jessica

How do we think the human species survived all these centuries before the last few decades of medical care? Women in New Guinea and Latin American Indian tribes are most often under five feet, and they must be having babies -- their groups continue to exist! I personally have attended the births of two women under five feet. Both had very nice births, no different than anyone else. One of them has six children, the last five of which were born at home. I've also attended the births of numerous women in the five foot and just-over range; they did fine and so did their babies. I don't see height as a determining factor in birth. It is simply one contributing factor, along with dozens of others.

- DJ Graham

In response to Dr. Parke Hedges [Issue 4:16]:
If you are really looking for resources for collaborative practice for midwifery and medicine, have you checked the ACNM Web site ( If you are looking to label those who support and practice the midwives' model of care as extremists, I don't know if you want to collaborate or dominate. The collaborative practice model is one of mutual respect for the different practice styles, sort of a yin to yang. A good collaborative practice would increase your marketability. My father is an ob/gyn, now retired. I'm a CNM. When we practiced together with our hugely divergent practice styles, he said it's like Burger King -- you can have it your way!

- Sara Ferguson, CNM,
Kentucky ACNM chapter chair

In response to physicians doing more c-sections to get paid more [Issue 4:17]:
I know of an OB practice in Kentucky that got sued out of business -- and in the past three months of their practice their c-section rate went up over 50%!

- Anonymous

If more obstetricians cared about the well being of women and not money, they would educate their patients about pregnancy and childbirth; they would practice preventative care and teach their patients about proper nutrition during pregnancy; they would teach their patients how to deal with labor through education and relaxation instead of giving them drugs; they would not count on electronic monitoring for assessment of labor, etc. The studies are out there for them to follow, yet they ignore them. Our maternal and infant mortality rates and the increase in low birth weight and premature birth rates certainly speak for themselves. Yes, doctors are practicing defensive medicine because they CHOOSE not to approach pregnancy and birth as a natural event, and they choose to do c-sections on women who do not need them, and yes, they are making more money for it. If doctors took a different approach to pregnancy and childbirth and truly educated women and practiced preventative medicine, they would not have the malpractice claims they do.

- Mandy Wyche Viator, natural childbirth educator, AAHCC

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


The International School of Traditional Midwifery in Ashland, Oregon is accepting enrollment for 2002 classes that start in May. For information call 541-488-8273, or go to

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