The purpose of oxytocin, in most cases, is to make us feel relaxed, content and calm. Elizabeth Davis, when referring to how to act at a birth, says we must “run oxytocin.” If the midwife and everyone else in the room are calm and running oxytocin, the mother generally will, too. It is contagious, as is adrenalin. The oxytocin levels of mother and baby are at their highest levels right after birth. This is a time that is easy to lose and is not retrievable. It is of utmost importance to respect that and, as Elizabeth says, run it ourselves. It is not only the love hormone, but the hormone of bonding. It is there for the mother and baby to finally greet each other in the physical realm. It gets momma ready to breastfeed her precious child. It is her reward for a job well done—that incredible job of labor. I asked on my Facebook page: “What character traits make a person a great midwife or doula?” Many of the answers could be construed as “running oxytocin.” In fact, the first responder said, “Empathy, and someone who leaks oxytocin!”
When we have the honor of being at someone’s birth, it is so important that we protect the motherbaby by protecting their oxytocin levels after birth. I don’t know if anyone has measured oxytocin levels of babies mistreated at birth, as many are, but I would wager it is not high. The same is true for moms. How high are their levels when they are feeling afraid or abused? If we want to improve relationships on this planet, we must improve birth practices. We can begin by protecting, not preventing, the release of high levels of oxytocin.
Toward better birth with oxytocin!
— 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
Editor’s Note: Midwifery Today is interested in promoting international networking among childbirth practitioners. Our goal is to strengthen the international community by establishing a country contacts in every country of the world. Read our contacts’ reports and updates below.
For this international edition of E-News, we asked Midwifery Today’s country contacts the following question:
Do you feel supported in your birth practice by your local birth community?
I have not felt supported by the community because they are adamant when it comes to midwifery services for a fee. The community is comprised of needy people and they feel they should have free services, which I cannot offer entirely since I need to buy medications, but when necessary I am offering free services.
Others have their births at home while others prefer government hospitals.
— Violet Kengyeya
I feel supported by friends, family and the clients I serve. The local doctors have been supportive, and I have had no problems, really. Most problems come from sharing evidenced-based care, ideas and practices.
Since I just go my own way, I have had no problems so far, but when I ask to do things my way in their clinics or hospital, I am not allowed. This would be the same I guess if I went into an American hospital and wanted to show them such weird things as walking during labor, no fetal monitors, birthing on the floor and on hands and knees, eating and drinking in labor, using a birth pool, no episiotomies, etc. Some of these practices are too “way out” for US and here in Belize.
Actually, I think Belize is better than US with regards to birth because we have no fetal monitors in public hospitals, no epidurals in public hospitals, no restriction on walking during labor and no restriction on foods. However, there are no birthing pools, limited running water and too many episiotomies. Family is not allowed to be with the birthing woman.
— Gail Johnson
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We are very privileged in Paris. There are six of us midwives attending homebirth, and we meet every month.
We have the support of the CIANE—an association fighting for choice in birth. I also have marvelous support from the mothers. At our meeting place, mothers just enjoy being there together and talking with babies and toddlers playing around them.
— Françoise Bardes
Yes. I’m a doula in Kiev and I have lovely international and Ukrainian clients who are so kind and supportive of me and my family. We have a reunion each Thanksgiving. When we had our third baby recently, some shared clothes, baby things and food. They are just lovely people.
I also recently met with two other American doulas who are here for a few years connected with their husbands’ work, and we’re all very open to working toward building a supportive birthing community among ourselves. I’m so glad to have some others around now to “talk birth” with! We’re networking, processing, listening to each other’s goals, helping each other get experience, etc. It’s great.
— Anne Sokol
This January marks the 13th anniversary of Eve’s Foundation, a pregnancy school which I founded on the premises of the Police Hospital where I work officially. I still do not have even one midwife supporting this initiative.
A number of times I have asked hospital authorities for support, but I receive no response. I have been alone in this with occasional help from one or two midwives. It has not been easy, but I thank God for the support of some student volunteers from home and abroad. I have taught over 4000 women and all these women have had very safe births without any complications.
I do not feel supported.
— Florence Okra
The Bumi Sehat Bali midwives share mutual respect with many of the leading Ob/Gyns on the island of Bali and across Indonesia. We also have the support of the Department of Health, both local and national. This is particularly special, for we practice very gentle birth protocols, such as delayed clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord (three hours or more delay). We sing when the babies are crowning. We allow the birthing families to have anyone that the mother wishes present in the birth rooms. Birthing mothers may choose any position and we do have waterbirth. Bumi Sehat has a 100% breastfeeding rate.
Three years ago Dr. Hariyasa had his own child. He sang her the Gayatri mantra as she was born. Also, he just could not cut her umbilical cord. Imagine an Ob/Gyn blogging that his own baby was lotus born! Dr. Hariyasa’s gentle birth epiphany happened because the Bumi Sehat midwives convinced him gently, not with anger or argument, but with the same tenderness that we share with each laboring mom and emerging baby.
Even doctors who have called the Bumi Sehat midwives crazy for 15 years now support and work with us.
Last year we shared gentle childbirth protocols via half-day seminars with over 6000 midwives in Indonesia and the Philippines. We teach the young midwives that love is the secret.
— Robin Lim
I don’t feel supported.
— Su-Chen Kuo
I am happy to inform you that in terms of support from the local community, there is no doubt that the support is there. People in the community still prefer homebirth. However, the program of the Department of Health, which discourages homebirth in favor of health facilities, somehow is affecting the situation. There are some local chief executives (city and municipal mayors) who approved ordinance discouraging homebirth. The midwives have to follow particularly those employed under the government.
Private practicing midwives who have birthing facilities and have back-up doctors continue their practice.
— Cecilia Banca Santos
Learn about rebozo massage!
The Rebozo Technique Unfolded features detailed instructions for 10 techniques you can use during pregnancy and childbirth, including a way to use the rebozo with a birth ball. You’ll also learn a bit about the history of the rebozo, what kind of cloth makes a good one and how to take care of yours. The techniques are illustrated with black and white line drawings and the spiral bound format makes it easy to keep the book open to a particular page. If you’ve ever wanted to try a rebozo, but didn’t know where to start, this is the book for you! To Order
Birth Wisdom from Michel Odent
This e-book is a collection of 24 articles by French obstetrician and natural childbirth advocate Michel Odent. Dr. Odent has been influencing the history of childbirth and health research for several decades and is familiarly known as the obstetrician who introduced the concept of birthing pools and home-like birthing rooms. When you buy this e-book, you’ll be able to read articles such as When Love Hormones Become Useless, Dispelling Disempowering Birth Vocabulary, and Childbirth from a Bacteriological Perspective.
Get your copy on Amazon to read on your Kindle or free Kindle app here.
Also on Smashwords here.
Want to know more about shoulder dystocia? You need the Shoulder Dystocia Package!
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Mexican Art Expresses the Joy of Birth
Put excitement on your walls with four colorful Mexican art prints celebrating birth and midwifery.
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Fill Your Birth Library with Midwifery Today Back Issues
Each quarterly issue of Midwifery Today print magazine is packed full of birth news, insights and information. You’ll also get an in-depth look at an important topic, with several articles devoted to the issue theme. Look over the list of available issues, then order the ones you need to help improve your practice. Order yours.
Visit the Midwifery Today YouTube Channel
Please check out this YouTube video, part of our Birth Essentials series:
An Interview with Sister MorningStar—Excerpt 1
In this video, Jan Tritten interviews Sister MorningStar, author of The Power of Women by Motherbaby Press. In this excerpt, Sister MorningStar tells why she wrote the book. “I wanted preserve for my great great great granddaughters what their great great great grandmother was doing.” She
tells of a story from Mexico of twins being born weeks apart.
Click here to view video.
Eugene, Oregon, Pre-Conference Classes
The conference in Eugene is coming up soon. I hope you can join us. We have concentrated quite a bit on the skills you need in order to be the best midwife or doula you can be. There are 10 all-day pre-conference workshops making it a little difficult to choose just one each day. Gail Tully will be doing her famous Spinning Babies class. Among other things, Gail will help you learn to recognize a potentially long labor and turn it around to a shorter labor. This is quite an information-packed and fun class. Ana Paula Markel from BINI birth will teach us Comfort Techniques. Her style is joyful and empowering to everyone around her! We also have two full days of Midwifery Skills packed with fascinating classes by Sister MorningStar, Anne Frye, Carol Gautschi and many others. If you are just beginning your birth path, Essential Midwifery is an excellent start. We also have Twins, VBAC, Mexican Techniques, an all-day class with Michel Odent and all-day Breech and Craniosacral Therapy classes. This is all before the conference begins. This is going to be an important event for your further education and also for your heart and soul.
This year we have an all-day summit meeting (again, pre-conference) called The Persecution of Midwives as a Human Rights Issue. This is going to be a groundbreaking event. I hope to see you there!
— Jan Tritten
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Weirdest birth I’ve ever seen—Baby came out doing the splits. One foot came out with the head. When checking her, we could not figure out what was going on!
— Karen Jenson Bunker
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