January 4, 2006
Volume 8, Issue 1
Midwifery Today E-News
“Simplifying Birth”
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Need a 2006 calendar?


Fill your year with photos of pregnant moms and newborns.

Each month of Harriette Hartigan's 2006 calendar celebrates the beauty and joy of new life. Her heart-warming black and white photos make this calendar a fine gift for moms, midwives, doulas—anyone who loves birth and babies! And be sure to buy one for yourself, too: Birth InTo Being

This issue of Midwifery Today E-News is brought to you by:

Look below for more info!

Midwifery Today Conferences

Join us in exploring liberty and autonomy in birth and in practice! Come to our conference in Philadelphia, March 23–27, 2006.

Planned classes include:

  • Posterior Presentation Roundtables
  • Spanish for Midwives and Doulas
  • Beginning Midwifery
  • Second Stage Seminar
  • Herbs by Lisa Goldstein
  • Tricks of the Trade in Water
  • Techniques from Mexico

Go here for info.

"Soaking up Midwifery Knowledge"

Come to our conference in Bad Wildbad, Germany, October 25–29, 2006 and learn from teachers such as:

  • Barbara Harper
  • Marina Alzugaray
  • Michel Odent
  • Elizabeth Davis
  • Ina May Gaskin
  • Marsden Wagner

Go here for more information and a complete program.

In This Week’s Issue:

As the new year dawns, may we each honor the world community with prayers for peace.

Quote of the Week

"No one ever taught us how to make love, and no one needs to teach us how to give birth."

Joanne Dozer

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The Art of Midwifery

Breech Tilt

If visualization alone does not lead to spontaneous version of a breech baby, have the mother begin the breech tilt at 30 to 32 weeks. For 15 to 20 minutes, six to eight times daily, prop an ironing board or other flat object the height of a couch; pad the board and have her lie on it, head down. Mother should massage the baby preferably in a face/head forward position with one hand cupped around the occiput and one cupped around the breech, moving the head forward and lifting the bottom in a rotating motion. As soon as the baby turns, she should get up and walk or squat. Often, if mother performs the tilt three days in a row as described and then stops for the fourth day, the baby seems to assume the vertex position on its own in anticipation of the exercise.

Anne Frye,
Midwifery Today Issue 18

ALL BIRTH PRACTITIONERS: The techniques you've perfected over months and years of practice are valuable lessons for others to learn! Share them with E-News readers by sending them to mtensubmit@midwiferytoday.com.

Send submissions, inquiries, and responses to newsletter items to: mtensubmit@midwiferytoday.com.


Jeannine Parvati Baker

Jeannine Parvati Baker, well-known midwife, herbalist, author and homebirth advocate, died in Joseph, Utah, December 1, 2005, from complications of Hepatitis C. Her children Halley and Quinn and their father Rico were with her at the time of her passing. Jeannine was the mother of six children and friend and mentor to many more people. Her legacy will live on in her many writings, including Conscious Conception, Prenatal Yoga and Natural Childbirth and Hygieia: A Woman’s Herbal. You can read about her thoughts on ""Birth and Death: The Mystery of Mortality,"" which is part two of an interview with Jeannine last March in the latest issue of Midwifery Today. More information.

Thomas Harrington Brewer, MD

Thomas Harrington Brewer, MD, an obstetrician famous for "The Brewer Diet" for pregnancy and a researcher who devoted his career to promoting better understanding and prevention of pregnancy toxemia, died on November 22, 2005, of complications of white matter disease, at the age of 80. Dr. Brewer was a prolific writer, authoring more than 40 articles and a book, "Metabolic Toxemia of Late Pregnancy: A Disease of Malnutrition," as well as acting as medical consultant on numerous books written by his former wife, Gail Sforza Krebs. Dr. Brewer's work will be continued by The Brewer Institute, a privately funded organization that will begin operations in 2006. A series of appreciations for Dr. Brewer's life and work will be held in 2006 in conjunction with the annual national conferences of the many maternal and child health organizations to which he consulted and served as an advisor. More information.

Research to Remember

Swedish researchers randomly assigned 386 pregnant women with pelvic girdle pain to one of three groups: group one received standard treatment consisting of a pelvic belt and home exercise program, group two received standard treatment plus acupuncture, and group three received standard treatment plus stabilizing exercises to improve mobility and strength. The participants reported pain levels each morning and each evening during the treatment period. When the treatment period ended, groups two and three had reported less pain in both morning and evening than had the standard treatment group. Pain reduction as assessed by an independent examiner was most successful in the acupuncture group.

British Medical Journal, March 2005

News Flash

Maternity Center Association (MCA), the oldest national organization advocating on behalf of mothers and babies (established 1918), has prepared two web pages in response to the recent release of the record-setting 2004 U.S. cesarean rate of 29.1% by the National Center for Health Statistics.

The first page points to important health and financial costs associated with increasingly casual use of major abdominal surgery in a primarily healthy population. It raises concerns about factors that are driving the steady increase in the national cesarean rate. And it addresses the fallacy of the common assumption that cesareans with no sign of a medical need on birth certificates were initiated by mothers themselves.

The second page is a brief, clear overview of Maternity Center Association's advice for pregnant women about cesarean section, vaginal birth, and vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).

This work is a component of MCA's ongoing national program to promote evidence-based maternity care.

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Midwives On Missions of Service

Visit our Web site at www.globalmidwives.org for recent updates from MOMS delegation in Senegal. MOMS Marketplace offers a unique selection of gifts. Shop early for our limited supply of handmade African Trade Goods; these make great gifts! We feature organic herbal products for the whole family. Pick up your copy of the 2006 With Woman Appointment Book, hot off the press!

Simplifying Birth

When I was in charge of the maternity unit of the Pithiviers, France, hospital, my main objective was to improve the birth environment in order to facilitate the physiological processes. This is how the midwives, a group of mothers and I proceeded to transform one of the conventional delivery rooms into a small home-like birthing room—a small square nest. This room has since been imitated in different maternity hospitals. Most of our visitors did not realize the importance of the size of the room, which should be as small as possible. They did not understand the reality and nature of the nesting instinct.

Another of the aims was to enable the mother-to-be to gain familiarity with the birthing place. It is obviously easier to satisfy the need for privacy in a familiar place. It is not enough to have had a guided tour of the facilities. In order to become really familiar with a place, you have to be there often and keep returning to do something. And it is better if you are doing something pleasant…. We found an answer that was perfectly adapted to our maternity unit. Once a week, the pregnant women and the staff would be given the opportunity to meet and sing around the piano. What could be easier or more pleasant? It was not expensive. Somebody found that you could buy 12 second-hand pianos for the price of one electronic fetal monitor….

In order to rediscover the basic needs of laboring women we might express a simple rule of thumb: where labor, delivery and birth are concerned, what is specifically human must be eliminated and the mammalian needs must be met. The first step should be to get rid of the aftermath of all the beliefs (inseparable from rituals) that have disturbed for millennia the physiological processes in all known cultural milieus. The belief that colostrom is harmful is a typical example. Such beliefs conferred an evolutionary advantage as long as the basic strategy for survival of most human groups was to dominate Nature and to dominate other human groups. It was an advantage to develop the human potential for aggression. Today humanity urgently needs to invent new strategies for survival. In order to develop respect for Mother Earth and to unify our global village, the priority is to develop a capacity to love rather than potential for aggression. So all the beliefs and rituals that disturb the physiological processes are losing their evolutionary advantage.

Let us add that a reduction in the activity of the neocortex is the most important aspect of birth physiology and that the neocortex is that part of the brain that is so highly developed among humans. All inhibitions during the birth process originate in the neocortex. That is why the spectacular development of the neocortex is our specific handicap in childbirth. When the activity of the neocortex is reduced, the laboring woman is as if "on another planet," cutting herself off from our world. She can become almost as instinctive as other mammals. This leads us to understand that the laboring woman needs to be protected against any sort of neocortical stimulation. Language, which is specifically human, is one of the most powerful stimulants of that part of the brain that is highly developed in our species. Not feeling observed and feeling secure both tend to reduce cortical activity; they are basic needs during the parturition of mammals.

I am amazed by the countless pleas I see for the humanization of childbirth. Today childbirth needs to be "mammalianized."

Michel Odent, excerpted from "Preparing the Nest," Midwifery Today Issue 68

You may order this issue: Issue 68

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Contraceptive Technology CE Conference

Boston, MA—March 8–11, 2006 • San Francisco, CA—March 19–22, 2006

Topics include: future methods of contraception, sexuality issues, recurrent vaginitis, adolescent health and much more! Each attendee will receive a complimentary copy of the new edition of Contraceptive Technology. For more information, contact Contemporary Forums at (800) 377-7707 or visit us online at www.contemporaryforums.com.

S. has spent her entire midwifery career at [an Oregon hospital]…. She developed a woman-centered practice with a noninterventive philosophy. She has never been to a homebirth…. S.'s devotion to the protection of normal labor and birth is bolstered by her consistent attention to research in medicine and obstetrics. However, the things I saw her do to make a birth in a hospital labor and delivery ward home-like were simple and basic. For one, she took the monitor out of the room. It was surprising to me, a midwife who has attended many hundreds of home and hospital births, how much difference this made. It felt different than just not using the monitor. It was gone. The room was simplified, the energy purified.

She went on to create a private space for the parents. On the floor behind the hospital bed a futon was placed, and a large cushion was added for comfort and support. The door to the room was closed and access monitored by the midwife. I was reminded of Dr. Michel Odent's advice to decrease the adrenaline levels in the laboring mother by providing a quiet, private place with the lights turned down low, the kind of place animals seek out for their births.

Marion Toepke McLean, excerpted from her column "Marion's Message," Midwifery Today Issue 50

Childbirth must happen in physical and emotional privacy. Women's vaginas in birth are as sacrosanct as they are at any other time; routinely penetrating them with fingers, forceps, scissors or hooks is a severe violation against the most fundamental rights of women to privacy and protection of the self. Women have the right to vocalize, move about, assume any birthing positions they like, and allow their births to unfold uniquely, without feeling the need to gain the acceptance and approval of their birth attendants. Women have the right to refuse birth attendants altogether. All hospital staff, midwives, family members and friends of birthing women must have full consent before viewing the childbirth process. Women's bodies are never to be regarded as learning aids. No institution has the right to impose spectators on any woman's birth.

Leilah McCracken, excerpted from "A Declaration of the Rights of Childbearing Women," Midwifery Today Issue 50

You may order this issue: Issue 50

The birth environment in rural Ethiopia, or in any of the remote places where women may still be giving birth in special huts, is where mystery rules and spiritual forces fill the air. "Mystery" means puzzling power that is beyond understanding. The hospital birth environment, however, is where mastery rules, where birth is monitored and kept under human control. "Mastery" is a gender-loaded word: it refers to the possession of expert knowledge and total control. Now women are seeking a new birth environment where they can balance mystery and mastery. The new birth environment must allow women to feel the spirituality of birth and to feel in control of birth, if these are the things they want, without being told what to do by religious laws or institutionalized medical culture.

Michele Klein, excerpted from "From Birth Hut to the Garden of Eden," Midwifery Today Issue 66

You may order this issue: Issue 66

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Obstetric Nursing CE Conference

Las Vegas, NV May 14–17, 2006

Explore current issues and controversies in OB care, including managing multiples, EFM, pain management, perinatal infections, 2nd stage management, patient safety and legal and ethical issues. Special Preconference: OB Emergencies. For details, contact Contemporary Forums at (800) 377-7707, info@cforums.com or visit us online at www.contemporaryforums.com.

Products for Birth Professionals

belly cast kit

Preserve the Memory of Your Pregnancy!

Use this belly cast kit to create a three-dimensional cast of your pregnant belly. Then leave it plain or decorate to suit your personal style.

It also makes a great shower gift.

Midwifery Today Magazine Issue 66

Learn about mother and baby care from Anne Frye.

HOLISTIC MIDWIFERY VOL. II: Care from Onset of Labor through the First Hours after Birth, is packed with over 1300 pages of detailed, otherwise hard-to-find information. You'll find a discussion of basic anatomy and physiology, an excellent chapter on fetal-to-newborn cardiopulmonary transition, information about supporting a woman through each phase of labor and much more.

This book, the second volume of Anne Frye's Holistic Midwifery series, also includes a discussion of complex and uncommon labor situations including problems with fetal descent, fetal or maternal demise, postpartum hemorrhage, understanding and treating shock and neonatal respiratory distress. Order the book.

Good news!
Membership in the International Alliance of Midwives is now free!

International Alliance of Midwives

Join this Web-based organization to learn about birth around the world and meet other people interested in safe, gentle birth. When you become a member, you'll receive access to a searchable directory of IAM members and a subscription to the IAM newsletter, sent to you three–four times a year by e-mail.
For more information and to join.

We have made an issue of the IAM newsletter available password-free so that you may view it before joining. View it here.

Tear Prevention Handbook
A Midwifery Today Book: Holistic Clinical Series

This book will provide you with a variety of suggestions from experienced midwives for keeping the perineum intact during second stage. You will find this handy book essential to your midwifery practice. Order the book.

Midwifery Today Magazine Issue 71MIDWIFERY TODAY magazine: A 72-page quarterly print publication filled with in-depth articles, birth stories from around the world, stunning birth photography, news, reviews and more.

Web Site Update

Read these articles from the newest issue of Midwifery Today (Issue 76):

  • Bahamas: Success on Many Levels—Jan Tritten's editorial tells of the genesis of a new midwifery organization by the Bahamian midwives at the Midwifery Today Bahamas conference.

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That's $5 off our regular price of $22.95 for a one-year subscription! For 30 years, Mothering magazine has been the premier publication of the natural family living community. Every publication addresses contemporary, evidence-based issues focusing on pregnancy, birth options, breastfeeding, vaccinations, childhood illness, alternative health and education, nutrition and the deeper issues of parenting. Go here for a discounted subscription, then choose New or Gift orders and enter the code A04MT.

Forum Talk

I am considering becoming a labor support professional but want to get a clearer picture. I am a mother of young children. I stay at home and care for them as my primary occupation. I'm curious how you work out childcare if you get called in the middle of the night, for example, or during the day and dad's not home from work yet, or you have a particularly long labor to support and have to be away much longer than expected. How does this work out practically for you?


Go to our forums to share your thoughts and experience.

Question of the Week

Q: What are homebirth midwives' requirements for taking on a client? Do they have limitations concerning obesity, medical conditions, and so forth?

— Anon.

SEND YOUR RESPONSE to mtensubmit@midwiferytoday.com with "Question of the Week" in the subject line. Please indicate the topic of discussion *and the E-News issue number* in the message.

Question of the Week Responses

Q: I have a client who has kidney failure and produces sistine kidney stones. Her creatinine levels are descending and are currently at 1.9. She has catheters from her kidneys to urethra which have been replaced during pregnancy to accommodate the uterus. Obviously her nephrologist and GYN have told her she should have a cesarean because the catheters won't withstand the "pressure" of labor. Does anyone have advice about/experience with this situation?

— Luna Maya Birth Center, Chiapas Mexico

A: My answer is not about what to do in the birth situation, but a way to help pass or dissolve kidney stones: "eating a whole watermelon and sitting in a bath." The watermelon reduces acid levels in the body at the same time it increases cleansing water in the kidneys; sitting in the bath helps relax the body. Don't eat anything else afterward for four and a half hours; this restriction will allow the watermelon to digest properly. Eating anything else with the watermelon will disrupt its ability to digest, as watermelon is a very alkaline fruit. I am not an expert, but have read extensively about naturopathic medicine.

— R.R.

Editor's Note: Responses to any Question of the Week may be sent to E-News at any time. Write to mtensubmit@midwiferytoday.com. Please indicate the topic of discussion *and the E-News issue number* in the subject line or in the message.


In response to a query about doulas in Paris [Issue 7:23]:

There is an English-speaking mothers support group in Paris that you can get in touch with via e-mail. This group has birthing educators who have a good knowledge of the French health system. It is also a great way of meeting other Australians in the same boat or who have had their babies in Paris. Go to the Web site for all the contact details: www.messageparis.org

Diana, Paris

An intentional community has formed in order to create comfort quilts for each of Jeannine Parvati Baker's two youngest children, Halley and Quinn. As you may be aware, they spent much of the past two years caring for their mother, oftentimes alone.

It would be great if you could help make people aware of this project, in case they are moved to contribute in some way. The address of the organization group is: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LegacyOfLove/

All Good Thoughts,
Acey Russell-Smith

Editor's Note: Only letters sent to the E-News official e-mail address, mtensubmit@midwiferytoday.com, will be considered for inclusion. Letters sent to ANY OTHER e-mail addresses will not be considered.

Classified Advertising

The Association of Texas Midwives annual conference "Trust in Birth" May 4–6, 2006 in San Antonio, TX. Presenting Marsden Wagner, Anne Frye, Barbara Harper, Penny Simkin and more! Visit www.texasmidwives.com for additional information.

48 Ways to Reduce the Fear of Childbirth

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Midwifery Today: Each One Teach One!