August 3, 2011
Volume 13, Issue 16
Midwifery Today E-News
“Choice in Birth”
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Welcome to Midwifery Today E-News !

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Deciding where and how to birth is a woman’s right

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Midwifery Today Issue 93 takes a look at the choice to birth at home and delves into issues that affect homebirth midwives and doulas.

Order this issue and read articles like these: The Question of Homebirth, Let Your Monkey Do It—A Doula’s Take on Homebirth, Hospital Transfers: Ease the Transition and Optimize the Experience, Don’t Risk Yourself Out of a Homebirth—Prevent Gestational Diabetes and “Home Away from Home” Birth: Thinking Creatively for the Birth You Desire.
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Brush up on your midwifery skills!

Germany conferenceAttend one or both days of the two-day Traditional Midwifery Skills pre-conference class at our conference in Bad Wildbad, Germany this October. You’ll learn from teachers such as Elizabeth Davis, Carol Gautschi, Ina May Gaskin and Gail Hart. Topics covered include Essentials for a Normal Birth, Preventing Complications with Prenatal Care, Labor and Birth Complications, Holistic Complete Exam, Helping the Slow-starting Baby and Suturing Overview.

Learn more about the Germany conference.

Plan now to attend the Midwifery Today Conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania!

Celebrate midwifery, make new friends, and learn from teachers such as Naolí Vinaver, Michel Odent, Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos, Ina May Gaskin and Betty-Anne Daviss. It all happens April 11–15, 2012, so be sure to reserve those days! To receive a printed program by mail when it becomes available, please e-mail with your name and postal address.

Learn more about the Harrisburg 2012 conference.

In This Week’s Issue

Quote of the Week

Mothers need to know that their care and their choices won’t be compromised by birth politics.

Jennifer Rosenberg

Are you enjoying your copy of Midwifery Today E-News? Then show your support and get more content by subscribing to our quarterly print magazine, Midwifery Today. Subscribe here.

The Art of Midwifery

Flashlight Test

If a father wants to “catch” his baby, I hand him a flashlight to shine on the perineum. This shows me how steady his hands are. How steadily he is able to train the beam indicates whether or not a father will need assistance. If he can see for himself how nervous his hands are, he will accept help more readily.

Jeannine Parvati Baker

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

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Jan’s Corner

What Can You Do?

What a refreshing headline this was to read recently in the news: “Too many women in the UK give birth in the hospital and more babies should be born at home or in midwife clinics, health experts said today.”

This article is in sharp contrast to the many stories we are hearing about birth around the world. Australia is trying to make it impossible to have midwife-attended homebirths. This is such a violation of human rights. We birth workers are going to have to keep working ever so hard to assure mothers have a choice of where to birth and with whom. We need your help. Every one of you has within you the ability to help many women keep their choices open. We want to reach critical mass, when everyone will know about the possibility of having an empowered and ecstatic birth. What can you do? What follows is a great idea from Barbara Rivera.

If you are like me, you may dream of a world where every woman lives with the awareness that birth can be something more, something empowering and indescribable. Like me you may dream of a world where every woman grows up seeing images and hearing stories of birth as it could be—an ecstatic and empowering rite of passage.

You might think that this dream is only a fairy tale, but after watching a TED talk by Chris Anderson, “How YouTube Is Driving Innovation,” (, it dawned on me that birthworkers (I am convinced that a birth worker is a job that people choose as a career, while a birthworker is what you are.) have the power to instantly effect a global change of consciousness regarding birth. If we could unite under a common goal which was broad enough to excite us all into action, we could grow the consciousness of empowerment using social media and free technologies. With this in mind, I have created Empowered Birth Awareness Week.

Empowered Birth Awareness Week is a global, shared event which belongs to everyone who participates in it. The purpose of the event is to grow the paradigm of empowered birth by flooding the public yearly with our vision, definitions, ideas, images, stories and inspirations. In short, to share our expressions of what it means to have an empowered birth.

If you doubt that such a thing could work, I want to share with you the power of YouTube. Some months ago I made a video, just for fun, about the benefits of having a homebirth, and published it to two of my free YouTube channels. This video has received over 17,000 views. Spur of the moment videos become viral each day and generate millions of hits. I believe that we can make empowered birth awareness viral if we act together by turning our focused intent towards making Empowered Birth Awareness Week a success. And what is success? Success is inspiring women with videos, blogs, songs, stories and images that incite the question, “Can birth be something more?”

With all of us powerful woman united, there is no stopping us from instantly affecting the world because we will have the marketing ability of a large corporation and can create the desire for women to inquire about natural, empowered birth.

Empowered Birth Awareness Week
Where: Global
When: September 5–12
How: Innovate and make it your own!
For more information, please visit:

Barbara Rivera

Jan Tritten, mother of Midwifery Today, 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.

Jan on Twitter:
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International Alliance of Midwives on Facebook:
Midwifery Education: Caring and Sharing:

News and Research

World Breastfeeding Week

August 1–7 is World Breastfeeding Week, celebrated in more than 120 countries to promote breastfeeding and its positive impact on infant health.

Breastfeeding not only best meets infants’ nutritional needs and facilitates bonding between mother and baby, but has many long-term benefits as well. Women who breastfeed their babies have a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancers later in life. Adults who were breastfed as infants generally have lower rates of obesity and type-2 diabetes, and seem to perform better in intelligence tests. Despite the benefits, less that 40% of babies under 6 months old are exclusively breastfed.

Read more about the benefits of breastfeeding and World Breastfeeding Week at

— World Health Organization. "10 facts on breastfeeding." Last modified July 2011.

Featured Article

The Sacred Place of Birth

Since the 1960s, there has been a lot written about the place to have a baby. The “safety” lobby has pushed more and more for all hospital births, while, with strength of its own, the “normality” lobby has pulled birth back into the home. The debate about whether home is best has continued in and out of the newspapers and professional journals, with women supporting the desire for choice to birth in either area.

The move into hospital-based care had become so strong that it was recognized that most women felt it was the only place for them. In recognition of this, a move came to make hospitals “more like home,” with pretty wallpaper and furnishings to give women a sense of their own space. But how right is all this? Lovely decoration is okay, but without the accompanying change of philosophy it is meaningless. I have been in beautifully decorated rooms where a large obstetric bed dominates the whole of the central area and machines and resuscitation equipment are very visible. For a laboring woman, or one who has come to view the potential place where her baby will be born, the psychological impact could prove to be negative. Midwives who work in these units are still affected by policies or practice guidelines which influence the way they view birth. No matter how beautifully decorated a place, it doesn’t mean it is a home.

A midwife trained in a hospital unit and the medicalized way of thinking may subsequently find it hard to behave differently within a woman’s home. I have written before about a homebirth where a midwife had a detrimental effect on the birthing couple. In this case, the midwife went out of her way to turn the home into a hospital unit with all the equipment possible, turning a blind eye to the fact that the woman was actually giving birth as she was opening all the packs! It is clear that midwives who are hospital-trained may have difficult transferring skills from hospital to home and may require further training. Yet it also seems difficult to transfer skills from home to hospital, with midwives quickly becoming entrenched in the system’s way of doing things.

The impact of the place of birth may be more complex than just a choice for a woman. If we believe that birth is a powerful, sacred event that has personal significance and meaning for the mother, baby and family, then we need to recognize that where it takes place is a sacred and holy site. This is recognized in certain cultures when a place is set aside in the community for birth to occur where women are revered during pregnancy and supported by other women during birth. Babies are born into the heart of the community and welcomed as part of the larger family. In the Western world, where families live in isolate and the majority of babies are born in the hospital separated from the community, there has been a loss of sacredness of the birth process and, to an extent, the value of women who go through the event.

For those women who choose to birth at home, there is recognition of the value of the environment (see Pamela Klassen’s work on religious women and homebirth). Apart from the security and safety aspect of a woman being in her own space and knowing where everything is, she is able to feel more freedom within herself physically, emotionally and spiritually.

In reflecting on my own experiences of birth at home, I have no doubt that there was a spiritual presence in the place. I would not have wanted to move from that environment to drive to the hospital. I felt safe and enshrined within my home with my family and belongings around me. For some years after, on each of the children’s birthdays, I found myself needing to go into the room where birth had taken place to remember the event and celebrate it all over all again. (For the last one it is easier because I remember her birth nightly as I bathe the children or sit in the bathtub!)

Jenny Hall
Excerpted from “The Sacred Place of Birth,” Midwifery Today, Issue 66
View table of contents / Order the back issue

Featured Products

Experience the authentic sights and sounds of birth!

Penny Simkin

Birth with Gloria Lemay features nine beautiful homebirths, each one a lovely example of a normal, family birth. It’s a great resource to share with women to help build their confidence in their birthing bodies. The DVD also includes special features on circumcision and the prepuce.
To order

Put the gift of beautiful birth in her hands.

Brought to Earth by Birth

Give Brought to Earth by Birth, a collection of black and white photographs by Harriette Hartigan, one of the world’s master birth photographers. It makes a beautiful gift for your midwife or doula, for expectant or new moms, for grandmothers and for anyone who loves babies and birth. And remember to order a copy for yourself!
Order the book.

Learn how to examine a newborn

When you order Newborn Exam for the Student Midwife, you’ll receive a treasure-trove of detailed information. First you’ll learn the basics, such as how to examine the eyes, ears, nose and other parts of the newborn’s body. The next section covers common newborn reflexes such as rooting, sucking and swallowing, while the third part explains a variety of gestational age assessment factors, both external and neurological. If you’re an apprentice or student midwife, you need this four-disk DVD set. To Order

Newborn Exam for the Student Midwife

Enjoy the birth stories of three couples

Homebirth Stories

Just $18, this 42-minute DVD will show you various ways of giving birth, including waterbirth and squatting. The couples also discuss why they decided that homebirth was the best option for them. The audio in Homebirth Stories is in Hebrew; the subtitles are in English. To Order

Put the beauty of birth on your wall!

mandala art prints

Choose from four inspiring mandala art prints by Amy Swagman. Each image is available as a 6 x 6 or 8 x 8 inch digital print on 9.5 x 12.5 inch archival, acid-free artist paper. Take a look at all four, then choose your favorite!
To order

mandala art prints

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. Midwifery Today Magazine

Web Site Update

Visit the Midwifery Today YouTube Channel

Please check out this YouTube video, part of our Birth Essentials series:
Shoulder Dystocia IV—Tricks of the Trade
In this video, attendees at Midwifery Today’s Denmark conference share more tricks of the trade about shoulder dystocia.

Click below to view; you may wish to download video and view without streaming interruption.


Read these articles from Midwifery Today magazine newly posted to our Web site:

  • The Role of Fear in the U.S. Birthing Process—by Colleen Bak
    Excerpt: Birth is inherently a female activity. The choice, the ability, the power to give birth is innately female. Historically women were the sole possessors of birthing knowledge and technique, and in certain cultures and time periods men feared them as a result of this (Arms 1996).
  • Touching Lives—by Keri Redding, LMT
    Excerpt: One client described experiencing "an incredible bonding feeling with my unborn baby." Another woman, who had gone through a miscarriage during a previous pregnancy, said massage therapy helped her "work through the fear and uncertainty." Yet another said, "after a massage, I would slow down and remember to enjoy being pregnant."

Advertising Opportunities

Find your international clients at our conference in Bad Wildbad, Germany

Reach a targeted international market by advertising at Midwifery Today’s conference in Bad Wildbad, Germany: “Preserving Our Traditions, Improving Our Skills”, October 19–23, 2011. By advertising at this exciting conference you will reach an audience passionate about birth. Space is very limited so contact us soon. [ Learn More ]

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Reach prospective students online with our Education Opportunities Page. It is the solution for promoting your midwifery education programs and CE courses. [ Learn More ]

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Make the vision of natural birth available for all to see.

Ask your library to order natural birth and midwifery books for you. When a mother has more information about natural birth available to her, she can make more educated decisions about how she wants to birth her baby. Making requests is easy; here’s how.

Birth Wisdom from the Web

The more we talked about it, though, the more sense it made for us to stay put when labor began and let the process be as natural as possible. I completely trust in my ability to give birth, and am excited to work with our birth team—an experienced CPM (certified professional midwife), who will make the trip over to the island once I go into labor, and a friend and midwife-in-training who will be living on the island….

— Sarah Crossman, one of nine pregnant women whose birth journeys are being profiled on NPR’s The Baby Project blog.

I felt harassed, I was just trying to feed my kid…I told her I wasn’t going to [leave], I told her we were fine. And we went back and forth and I told her I had a right to breastfeed and she went to get the manager. I thought that was going to be the end of it, because the manager should obviously know the law.

— Ashley Brown, mom, who staged a breastfeeding sit-in after being asked to leave a Memphis Social Security office for breastfeeding her child.

When people leave, the health service is not replacing them and it causes stress and strain. There seems to be a discrepancy between what the health boards are saying and what the reality is…. The public is being told there is a shortage of midwives, yet we have got fully trained midwives not being employed.

— Phillip Banfield, of the British Medical Association’s Clwyd North division, on midwifery cuts in the UK

If you’d like to share a bit of wisdom from the Web, please send a 4–5 sentence excerpt, accompanied by a link, to

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Learn about midwifery education!

Are you an aspiring midwife who’s looking for the right school? Are you a practicing midwife who would like learn more? Visit our Education Opportunities page to discover ways to start or continue your education.

Conference Chatter: Join Us in Germany

The Germany conference has, in the past, been attended by midwives and doulas from many different countries. At one Germany conference, the country count was 43! This year is another promising one for meeting friends from all over the world. (See scrapbooks of past conferences.)

I am amazed that almost every European country will be represented, as well as Australia, Ghana, Mexico, Canada and more! One big surprise is to have Eugene, Oregon, (where Midwifery Today is based) Rwanda, Ghana, Oman and Puerto Rico represented. Please don’t miss the Germany conference, October 19–23, if you can get there—it is going to be amazing.

I just got off the phone with Diana Paul and we are planning an International Motherbaby Film Festival for the Germany conference, as well. There are some amazing films coming out and Diana is the person to bring them to us. We have a great line up of teachers and the best part is—we hope to have you!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011, we will hold a free meeting of the International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative (IMBCI—, a daughter the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS). Robbie Davis-Floyd and Debra Pascali-Bonaro will be leading this great meeting. They will then stay with us to teach at the conference. I sure hope to see you there and making birth friends in our wonderful international midwifery community.

Jan Tritten

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Think about It

It is very unfortunate when a people, a community or a whole culture loses its original ways of doing important things—those things that were precisely what gave it its particular sense of reality, sense of self and relationship with the world.

Naolí Vinaver
Excerpted from “Tradition, Birth and the Kitchen to Cook It All in,” Midwifery Today, Issue 89
View table of contents / Order the back issue


Interested in making an impact this summer? Help the women of Haiti by traveling to Haiti in August with Circle of Health International (COHI). This trip provides volunteers the opportunity to give back to the Haitian communities devastated by the earthquake in 2010.

We’re really looking to promote our Resilience in Action trip coming up August 20–27. This trip will give those interested a chance to see COHI’s work in Haiti, while helping with our initiatives surrounding reproductive health. We have only 20 spots, and we want to fill them up, so please, as a favor to all of us at COHI, please send this information far and wide. 

Visit: or e-mail with any questions or concerns! And find COHI on Facebook at

Circle of Health International

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Classified Advertising

Online midwife training (pay as you go) using Moodle, WizIQ. Weekly classes and 2-week clinical trips for all to serve in L&D in Dominican Republic and Uganda.

Metamorphosis helps pregnant women and families with a gentle touch approach to easing unconscious tension so each family member can contribute more positively. Classes great for midwives doulas, and parents. Classes nationwide, book, DVD.

There are many out there who’d love to keep you in the dark about true wellness. Empower yourself, empower your family, empower your clients with our quarterly print magazine.

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