The Midwife and Doula as Natural Remedy
Michel Odent tells the story of a researcher who was working in a hospital and sat in a room with women in labor. He did not do anything except sit in a corner and write notes. The labors were shorter and there were fewer complications. When he left months later the same old long, interfered-with and complicated labors ensued. Just his presence, though he did nothing, affected labor and birth. That is also Michel’s explanation for the knitting midwife. Her quiet non-watching positively affects birth.
When I labored during my first homebirth it was just my hubbie and homebirth doctor, chatting about the home repairs they needed to do. I thought, “Well, if something was wrong they wouldn’t be talking calmly about home repairs.” I labored for less than an hour that way and Doctor Tom handed me my baby after three pushes. I was at home and home is where people belong in everyday life and in birth, if everything is okay.
I vividly remember a hospital in Poland I visited about 12–15 years ago. There was a woman walking the halls and alone in labor. My reaction was to stay with her, but I was just passing through. I remember feeling sad. At another hospital there were three women in labor. Two of them were panicking and moaning, needing only human love and touch. The other was being threatened with a cesarean for no reason at all. I felt so helpless but tried for my 15 minutes there to help the women. I actually got the laboring women to become calm, just through love and presence and attending.
Human presence, touch, love, care and calmness are perhaps the greatest natural remedies we have in our birthkits. We might call ourselves “humandurals”! We can take these remedies to any prenatal visit or birth. They don’t need to be washed, autoclaved or re-packed. We need to do the constant work of being kind, loving, caring and non-judgmental, as well as knowledgeable. When we nurture those traits in ourselves, we have the very best natural remedy God ever created for birth.
— Jan Tritten, mother of Midwifery Today
Jan Tritten is the founder, editor-in-chief and mother of Midwifery Today magazine. She became a midwife in 1977 after the amazing homebirth of her second daughter. Her mission is to make loving midwifery care the norm for birthing women and their babies throughout the world. Meet Jan at our conferences around the world, or join her online, as she works to transform birth practices around the world.
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Call for Submissions
We are looking for content that speaks to “the role of story in birth” for an upcoming issue of Midwifery Today magazine. Send your experiences, thoughts, stories and photos to: email@example.com. All submissions are due March 3rd. Please review our submission guidelines.
New Research Supports Vaginal Breech Delivery
Recent studies by researchers in Tel Aviv confirm that vaginal delivery for breech babies is safe for baby and possibly safer than a c-section for mom.
The research, which was presented at the Canadian Congress on Breech Delivery, suggests that vaginal births for breech babies reduce maternal morbidity and mortality. Citing the risks c-sections pose to future pregnancies as well as the breastfeeding difficulties that often occur after cesarean, the researchers are campaigning worldwide for a return to more traditional birthing methods for breech babies.
Breech delivery techniques, management of different breech presentations, and techniques for changing presentation from breech to head are all skills the researchers hope new gynecologists and obstetricians will learn and reintroduce as standard practices in the field.
— http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101026141510.htm Accessed 10 Dec 2010.
LADY’S HANDS, LION’S HEART,
A MIDWIFE’S SAGA
by Carol Leonard
A memoir of a young midwife practicing in the wilds of New Hampshire who trained with a wonderful old country doctor, fell in love with her obstetrician back-up, and ultimately became a national leader in the struggle to reclaim the profession of midwifery in the United States.
Order from Amazon books or for signed copies, go to www.BadBeaverPublishing.com
Naturopathic Support during Gestation
Primum non nocere—First, do no harm—guides the NDs (naturopathic doctors) in determining how to implement their modalities safely during the entire pregnancy. NDs are trained in drug-herb interactions as well as in nutrient-herb interactions. In the first trimester, nutrition coaching is the number one indicator for lessening the complications in labor, birth and postpartum. Clinical nutrition is the biochemical application of foods and nutraceauticals (extracts of foods claimed to have a medicinal effect on human health) in order to achieve therapeutic results. Studies show that hyperemesis gravidarum is effectively treated with three days of vitamin B6. Nausea and vomiting are clinically related to sugar imbalances, protein deficiencies and yeast imbalances, as seen in mild cases of systemic candidiasis. Typically, these clients have a diet high in carbohydrates. Symptoms can be relieved through coaching regarding the implementation of a low-glycemic diet.
During the second trimester, central concerns are fetal brain development and iron deficiency anemia. Optimal results are achieved when iron supplementation is introduced at 20 weeks (20 mg daily) to prevent the relative iron deficiency anemia that may be seen until the hemodilution is balanced at 25 weeks. (A plant-based iron is safe from oxidative damage.) This strategy will pre-empt a negative ferritin result at 28 weeks. According to Cathy Carlson-Rink, a Vancouver, BC-based naturopathic physician and midwife, low doses of iron are shown to be more effective and safer than higher doses—higher levels contribute to oxidative damage as well as potential “rebound anemia.”
— Lisa Doran and Nora Pope
Excerpted from "Naturopathic Modalities—Their Role in Achieving Positive Birth Outcomes," Midwifery Today, Issue 87
View table of contents / Order the back issue
Be Prepared for Hemorrhage
The Hemorrhage Handbook is filled with great stories told by expert midwives that give you superb insight into bleeding problems that may occur during the prenatal period, the birth or postpartum. Topics include the importance of good nutrition, how the bloodstream works, herbs to use, the RhoGAM controversy and Chinese remedies.
Buy the book.
See how touch can be used during labor and birth
When you watch Nurturing Touch for Birth you’ll see the integrated use of touch during two home and two hospital births. The powerful imagery, evocative music, and inspiring narration all illustrate vividly the importance and power of touch. This DVD is perfect for childbirth education classes and doula trainings, and will also be an inspiration to midwives, nurses, and pregnant mothers and their birth companions. Buy the DVD.
Midwifery Today Back Issues have the information you need!
From second stage and prematurity to birth change and natural remedies, back issues of Midwifery Today print magazine are packed with informative articles that will help you improve your practice. You’ll also find inspiring birth stories, birth news, poetry and stunning black and white photography. Choose from these available back issues.
Let Miss Margaret inspire you!
|Margaret Charles Smith caught her first baby when she was five years old, then went on to become one of the last great “Granny” midwives in the United States. Watch this DVD to learn about the woman Ina May Gaskin called a “national treasure.” You’ll be inspired by her courage, perseverance and motherwit. To Order|
What is optimal fetal positioning?
Why is it important and how can you help your clients achieve it? You’ll learn this and more when you read Understanding and Teaching Optimal Foetal Positioning by Jean Sutton and Pauline Scott. Succinct and thorough, this manual includes brief descriptions of the various ways a fetus can present, information on how a fetus can be encouraged to rotate into the optimal position during later pregnancy and postures the mother should use or avoid during actual labor. Optimal Foetal Positioning features numerous black and white line drawings that illustrate and illuminate the information in the text and is a must-own for anyone who works with pregnant women.
Make sure you get the whole story.
|Midwifery Today E-News is only a sample of what you’ll find in Midwifery Today magazine. Subscribe and you’ll receive a 72-page quarterly print publication filled with in-depth articles, birth stories from around the world, stunning birth photography, news, reviews and more. Subscribe.
Web Site Update
You may check out the table of contents for the brand-new Winter 2010/2011 issue of Midwifery Today here.
Read this editorial by Jan Tritten from the brand-new issue of Midwifery Today, Winter 2010/2011:
- Birth Is a Human Rights Issue: A Movement
Now is the time for us all to commit to working on this inalienable right, “Birth Is a Human Rights Issue.” I suggest using this phrase as a motto: “Every woman has the right to be treated with reverence and respect during the birth process, including pregnancy and beyond.” As we all know, nearly all motherbaby human rights are being egregiously violated around the entire world in the pregnancy and birth process, the time miracles should be happening.
Read this article excerpt from the brand-new issue of Midwifery Today newly posted to our Web site:
- Journey to the Water—by Kristi Zittle
A retired midwife recounts her experiences with waterbirth and shows how she came full-circle with this particular birthing method.
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Question of the Week
Q: What are your favorite natural remedies for labor and birth?
— Midwifery Today staff
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Question of the Week Responses
Q: What role do you think fear is playing in childbirth today?
— Midwifery Today staff
A: Sadly, I think most young woman are convinced they cannot birth without “procedures” to save them and a “parade” both there and back! The media has told women it is neither possible nor desirable to be put through a normal birth. It is a great sadness that young women seem willing to give up all the hard won freedoms women have struggled for. We are preaching to the choir!
— Claudia Toms, retired RN and home midwife
A: I could go on and on about this topic. My generation of women (most of my friends began having kids within the last 5 years) are incredibly motivated by fear when making decisions about how they will birth their children. Countless times, women have told me: “I’m a wimp,” “I have a low pain threshold,” “I don’t need to be a hero,” “I’m such a planner, I’d rather know ahead of time how it will go,” “All that matters is a healthy baby,” etc. Fear of the unknown, fear of the pain, fear of something going wrong…it’s debilitating for so many women. So much so that they don’t even consider that there might be alternatives to a scary birth. They don’t know that birth can be calm, gentle, sacred and without fear. It’s so sad. I’m lucky that I get to attend many wonderful homebirths, and I’ve seen in real-time how a knowledgeable and intuitive midwife can handle even the “scariest” of births. I’ve heard mothers who experienced complications say later how wonderful their birth was, and the difference is that they did not fear the birth process before hand. If we could work to calm the fears of expectant mothers, I truly believe we could reduce the amount of emotional dystocia that occurs during labor. Elizabeth Davis gave a wonderful talk at last year’s MT conference that really convinced me that the emotional side of labor is just as important as the physiological side. Fear does nothing but hinder the natural process!
— Lindsey Carson, CBE and aspiring midwife
A: Fear still plays a large role in childbirth. I believe our premise around educating women and men about childbirth is false. Give me a woman to educate who is not pregnant and I will give you back in return a calm and confident woman looking forward to one of the best days of her life. Prenatal education hurriedly thrown in during the last few months provides little to the pregnant mom and dad. Real and informed choices are rarely discussed in most prenatal education classes. Pregnant women are often on information overload, with a good deal of fear thrown in and little in their birth file other than to submit rather than to question.
I would like to see every young woman, before pregnancy, have the opportunity to meet a midwife and doula, to be able to see the different choices during birth, to know and understand their bodies and its abilities. One of the biggest barriers we face today is the fact that many young women have become disconnected from their bodies. Women have been trained through the media to dislike their bodies and disassociate.
We have created a breakthrough program in childbirth education; in a small, isolated community we have started to dramatically change how young women view their bodies. I believe this innovative health education program we have created could be reproduced in every school, giving each woman a thorough understanding of her body, the support to reconnect to her body and the confidence to make good birth decisions later on. In Canada, where we have finally set up midwifery almost all across the country, you will find the same number of women accessing midwives as before.
Educating a woman before she is pregnant gives her the time to calmly look at her options and to make healthier choices, eliminating the fear that comes with a lack of solid information and increasing the connection she has with her body. A good grounding of information at a young age would make a tremendous difference in how we all view childbirth. It is time we get all women educated, instead of just a lucky few.
— Gail J. Dahl, Founder and President of the Canadian Childbirth Association
Responses to any Question of the Week may be sent to E-News at any time. Write to email@example.com. Please indicate the topic of discussion *and the E-News issue number* in the subject line or in the message.
Bring resources about homebirth and midwifery to your community.
Does your library have relevant natural birth and midwifery resources? Did you know that as a patron of the library, you can make requests for specific books, magazines and DVDs? If these resources are not available for mothers to find, how will they make educated decisions? Making requests is easy. Go here to learn how.
Think about It
The pain of labor is one of the big reasons for intervention in the natural process. This intervention often involved the use of opiates, although the body does produce endorphins in labor, opiate-like substances that can lead to a lack of responsiveness to painful stimuli. Studies in the 1980s showed that the baby releases its own endorphins in the birth process. These hormones also peak in the mother after the baby is born, producing feelings of euphoria and facilitating the beginning of a dependency or attachment—the bonding of mother and baby.
It is interesting to look at the optimum picture presented in natural childbirth for mother-baby bonding, but it is incorrect to assume that deep bonds cannot develop even after the most interventive birth. Sometimes we have to choose intervention when complications occur…. The wise midwife will facilitate mother and baby contact, whatever the nature of the birth experience.
— Marion Toepke McLean
Excerpted from "Does It Matter How We Are Born?" Midwifery Today, Issue 89
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