Around the World
In this international edition of E-News I want to share some lovely experiences Eneyda and I had in Europe in October. Our first stop was England in order to check venues for a future conference. While we were there we had the privilege of seeing our friend Sally Kelly’s hospital practice, thus renewing our faith in the possibly of having a lovely undisturbed birth in the hospital. She has a very special practice where women have the choice of waterbirth and many labor aids, such as balls and ropes. (We decided that Culford School would be an excellent place to hold a conference―it has been many years since Midwifery Today has been to England.)
After England we were off to the island country of Cyprus, or should I say “countries” because there are two very distinct countries within the bounds of the island. A midwife named Nabahat, who we had met at a conference in Turkey, invited us to stay with her in Northern Cyprus. We landed and made our way through the various checkpoints―the north and the south are very divided in Cyprus, but we found wonderful, caring midwives who want to make changes in their system for motherbaby. Birth there, as in so many countries, is riddled with interventions and cesareans. The need for change is apparent.
Nabahat took us into her home with amazing kindness and hospitality that touched us deeply. The northern part of the island is Turkish and the southern part is Greek, though both are independent. Nabahat put out beautiful Turkish breakfasts for us with as many as 20 or more delicious items to choose from. She introduced us to all of her extended family who lived nearby and we had lavish and lovely meals with them. We met a woman who confided to us how depressed she was after a forced cesarean. So many women are hurting all over this world by interventive and manipulated birth. The entire world is affected in ways it should not be. Birth can be beautiful and lead to a strong family bond if only we would apply gentle and safe birth practices globally. Our time with our dear friends there was so very moving for both Eneyda and I.
We also met with great midwives from the southern part of the island. They now have a midwives committee of nine midwives and are very ready to share and learn. They are committed to helping us bring a conference to Cyprus. Our goal with this conference would be to bring all midwives together from all religions for making birth better for families.
After four marvelous days and nights in Cyprus we were off to our conference in Germany where midwives from 27 different countries shared birth issues and skills with us. Besides the great conference, we spent many hours in the pools enjoying each other’s company. Next year we are headed to Belgium, and so we also worked on the program for that conference.
I came home for two days before heading to Hawaii to attend and speak at the Mid-Pacific Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. This conference, put on by Michel Odent and Heloisa Lessa, was top-notch, presenting the science of the horrendous birth practices and making us all aware of how we must change birth practices and follow Michel’s advice: “Do not disturb the mother.” His advice refers to labor and the immediate postpartum period. The baby belongs to the mother―keep them together. At Michel’s conference there were registrants from 57 countries, so we all returned home with many new friends from around this amazing world.
My friend Dorothy McKune, a midwife from South Africa, was also there. She and I were able to have our photo taken with Maya Soetoro-Ng, Barack Obama’s sister, who has written a lovely children’s book and was doing a book signing. (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B005HKKOJA/midwiferytoday) She is a real sweetheart and teaches at the University of Hawaii. All in all, in this whirlwind tour of the world, I feel very satisfied and ready to be home writing these little messages to you via Facebook and E-News and hanging out with my beautiful family.
Toward Better 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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Country Contact Reports on Cesarean Rates
We recently asked our Country Contacts about this subject: “Tell us about the cesarean rates in your country. Are the rates different between cities and rural areas? Are there any steps being made to decrease this rate?”
There are 75 maternity wards in Hungary (for 10 million people). The capital city of Budapest, the largest city in the country with two million people (surrounding cities have an extra half million, so 1/4 of the country lives in the Budapest area), has nine hospitals. The overall cesarean rate is 33%, and it is on the rise it seems. The capital has a cesarean rate of 36.5%; seven hospitals have rates over 33% and the other two hospitals have cesarean rates around 20%. Two rural hospitals in the country have the highest cesarean rates (55% and 52%). The lowest cesarean rates are found in a big Budapest hospital (19.7%) and in a small city hospital (19.5%).
There is a small group that is trying to find financial support for their campaign, which involves reducing the number of cesareans, but their plans are not yet in action.
— Gabriella Nagy
It is difficult to get reliable statistics, but in Belize I think the cesarean rate is between 35 and 40%. Inductions are no longer being done, so if labor hasn’t started, a woman automatically gets a cesarean.
I just talked with a lady yesterday. She was told her baby was big, and since she was not dilating, she needed a cesarean. Her due date was October 9 and she was told on October 4 to go to the hospital to have a cesarean within 48 hours. The lady did not want to go, but this kind of advice is given a lot.
Uninformed consumers believe the doctor is right and so our cesarean rate is rising. A lady had a cesarean because she was told she was carrying twins. She ended up with a cesarean and they found only one baby.
— Gail Johnson
Most hospitals in cities have a cesarean rate of over 50%; some rural areas have lower rates, between 30 and 40%. China’s ministry of health announced that a high cesarean rate brings harm to women’s health. They called for a reduction of cesareans and promoted natural childbirth, but it has had little effect.
— Mavis Chen
These statistics are from 2008.
Overall cesarean rate in Sweden: 17.2%
The highest rate is in Stockholm: 23.2%
The lowest rate is in the city of Linköping: 10.2%
— Diane Sjögren
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Ina May Gaskin on Risk Assessment for Breech Birth
In this video, Ina May Gaskin of The Farm Midwifery Center teaches in the Breech Birth workshop at the Midwifery Today Conference in Eugene, Oregon, March 2009. She describes frank breech and explains the importance of screening clients for breech birth.
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A Wise Decision
By the time you read this, the December issue of Midwifery Today will be on its way to the printer. We received so many fine articles on the theme of “Doulas.” Now we are beginning to focus on the Spring 2013 issue on hemorrhage. We have a wonderful group of contributors already lined up including Michel Odent, Sister MorningStar, Robbie Davis-Floyd and Robin Lim. We are so thankful for the natural childbirth advocates who submit articles and help to distribute important information all over the world through Midwifery Today. Since the next issue is of a clinical nature, it is sure to be filled with relevant and educational articles. With each edition of the magazine containing around 25 articles, it is a resource worth having. If you are not already a subscriber of the magazine, signing up for a year’s worth of issues might be a wise decision since it will enhance your knowledge in natural childbirth and keep you up-to-date and informed on midwifery information.
— Nancy Halseide, managing editor of Midwifery Today
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My husband and I woke up at 4:44 am when I thought my water might have broken. Ten minutes or so later, increasingly strong contractions confirmed that I was in labor with our third child. While my husband called friends and midwives, I climbed into the shower because I desperately wanted to shave my legs before everyone arrived. Shortly thereafter I called for my husband because the contractions hurt so much and said, “If I have to do this all day, they’re going to have to knock me out!” He went to make more calls and just a few minutes later I called for him again. He entered the bathroom, saw my face and cried, “Oh no! Don’t push!” I didn’t, but my body sure did!
At 5:15 am, as I stood in the shower, my husband carefully received the precious gift of the most beautiful baby girl. He called our midwife in disbelief. Everyone showed up about 20 minutes later. In the meantime, my husband laid me back in the tub and kept us nice and warm with towels. I’d had two good hospital births, but this, our first homebirth, was absolutely magical. I still smile every time I think about it.
— Amy Sir Louis
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