February 12, 2014
Volume 16, Issue 4
Midwifery Today E-News
“Postpartum Depression”
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In This Week’s Issue

Start your journey into midwifery!

Attend the full-day Beginning Midwifery class at our conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, April 2014. Carol Gautschi, Sister MorningStar, Heidi Yanello and Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos will share their wisdom and love of midwifery in a way that will nurture your interest and make you feel welcomed to the world of birth. Topics covered include Prenatal Care for Well-being, Normal Labor Care, Anatomy of a Home Birth Bag and Emotional Issues in Pregnancy, Labor and Birth. This class will also help you decide if midwifery is the profession for you.

Learn more about the Harrisburg conference.

Sign up for the full-day Shoulder Dystocia and “Malpresentations” class

UK conferenceGail Hart and Jane Evans will discuss the mechanical and physical causes of shoulder dystocia, as well as symptoms and signs you can use to predict it. You will learn about more than 14 maneuvers for shoulder dystocia and discover techniques for assessing and dealing with different types of presentation.

Learn more about the Bury St. Edmunds, UK, conference.

Quote of the Week

There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.

Laurel K. Hamilton

Do you like what you’re reading? You’ll get even more content when you subscribe to our quarterly print magazine, Midwifery Today. Subscribe here.

The Art of Midwifery

One thing I notice in my practice is that new mothers often do not have the time or support to be able to process their birth experience. This is vitally important, especially if the birth was traumatic in any way. Some women may hold in their feelings of violation, fear, sadness or shame for many years. Homeopathy works to assist the woman to release emotionally so that she does not suppress these negative emotions. Often the release will come in the form of a dream or a good cleansing cry. Since a new mother does not have a great deal of time to think, journal or talk with therapists, the body is effective and efficient, using a dream to begin the resolution of the experience.

Piper Martin, excerpted from “Homeopathic Medicine for the Postpartum Period,” Sharing Midwifery Knowledge, Tricks of the Trade, Vol. IV, a Midwifery Today book
View table of contents / Order the book

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.

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Editor’s Corner

Checking Our Routines

If we look at how birth was intended to be, we can take our cues, as midwives, for what to do and what not to do. What is expected of us from our divine calling? We've been discovering treasures at birth, such as the role hormones play in helping labor along. The process goes smoothly about 90% of the time, and when it does, we can simply let the birth unfold on its own. We have learned that if a mother and baby get to see, know, smell and feel each other in the first minutes after birth, this will go far in stemming complications (but only if we follow this design).

So what can we do? Most of the time no physical help is needed, but that does not mean we can’t help mentally or spiritually. Prayer is always welcome. We must be ever vigilant in reading the signs and signals of normal in order to be ready to act when needed. If a hemorrhage starts, we must stop it. If a baby stops breathing, we need to step into action. My partner and I were at a birth once where a baby stopped breathing a few minutes after the birth. We easily got the baby breathing again. Thank heavens that does not happen very often, but it did this one time. I have even read a birth story where the baby, born healthy just like our little one was, stopped breathing. This little one was covered with a blanket, so no one saw the problem and the baby died. Ever attentive can mean doing very little, but midwives are there for a good reason.

It is important to look at our routines and see if what we are doing is what we really want to be doing. The idea of not talking so motherbaby get their first outside-the-womb meeting when the hormones are high is crucial and may prevent hemorrhage. In order to facilitate an undisturbed environment for those oxytocin-high moments, you may need to explain to the parents in the prenatal period how important this time is. Remind them to save their phone calls for after the initial bonding time. It is easy to get excited in those first thrilling moments.

Being a midwife is such an interesting occupation. It is so multi-faceted. There is so much responsibility, but often our task is simply to be a quiet presence. Midwife Nicky Leap said, “The less we do the more we give.”

PS: Please look at this trailer of one of the most important films being made on the topic of birth. Please help Toni and Alex in their efforts—it may just save childbirth. Here is their fundraising campaign page.

— 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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Midwifery Education: Caring and Sharing

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Conference Chatter

Can you help?

We are having such fun in our office with figuring out how to let the world know about the three very stimulating conferences we have coming up in 2014: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, April 23–28; UK, May 26–30; and Byron Bay, Australia, November 4–9. I sure hope I get to meet more of you. If you would like to help us get the word out, we can send you paper flyers for the UK conference or the Australia conference that you can hand out to your networks.

Our Harrisburg conference is coming up in April, but there is still time to register. For quick and easy registration, use the online form.

The UK program is done and I think it is very exciting.

The program for Byron Bay is nearly finished, but it will take a little time to get it proofed and put online. Until then, you may see some basic information on the Australia event.

— Jan Tritten

Keep up to date with conference news on Facebook:

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

Featured Article

The Power of Natural Progesterone: Treating Hormone-related Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression (PPD) and related mood disorders may affect as many as one-fourth of mothers at some point during the year after their baby’s birth. According to the 2008 “New Mothers Speak Out” survey, almost two-thirds of the mothers surveyed experienced some form of PPD. Unfortunately, the study also revealed that 60–75% of women suffering from PPD, posttraumatic stress disorder or other emotional difficulties failed to seek help (Declerq et al. 2008). In Natural Health after Birth: The Complete Guide to Postpartum Wellness, midwife, herbalist and physician Aviva Jill Romm suggests that many women avoid treatment for PPD because “[t]here is still stigma attached to depression” (Romm 2002, 170).

Another part of the problem may lie with the perceived lack of alternative treatment options. Standard treatment options for PPD generally involve antidepressant medication, counseling or some combination of the two. However, research conducted by the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, Nebraska, suggests that natural progesterone may be a highly effective alternative treatment option. In a small survey of 24 mothers that I conducted on this subject, 87% of the women who said they had suffered from PPD and did not seek help would have done so if they had known there was a natural and effective treatment option available to them. This result suggests that educating mothers and caregivers about natural progesterone treatments may encourage more mothers to seek help when they need it. This is critical for the health of both mothers and their babies.

Assessing the root cause of PPD is crucial in formulating an effective treatment plan. In their FAQ publication on PPD, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) presents a number of contributing factors, including hormone fluctuation, fatigue (especially following cesarean birth), emotional challenges, breastfeeding difficulties and lack of support for the new mother (ACOG 2011).

Setting hormonal fluctuations aside momentarily, let us briefly consider some of these other potential causes. Aviva Jill Romm notes that, while doctors are inclined to consider internal factors such as chemical imbalances or thyroid issues, women tend to name external factors, such as their birth experiences or the level of support they receive, as causes for their depression. She points to several studies which confirm the negative impact that such external causes can have on mothers’ postpartum health (Romm 2002), and this continues to be upheld by recent research.


Shannon K. Valenzuela
Excerpted from “The Power of Natural Progesterone: Treating Hormone-Related Postpartum Depression,” Midwifery Today, Issue 103
View table of contents / Order the back issue

Featured Products

How would your baby like to be born?
How Will I Be Born? In How Will I Be Born? Jean Sutton explains the principles of optimal fetal positioning in a clear and straightforward manner. Written for expectant parents, this book is packed with helpful advice and information, including an informative chapter on posterior position. A must-read for all pregnant moms and a book for the practitioner’s lending library. To order

If you work with birthing women, you need Penny Simkin’s Comfort Measures for Childbirth
Comfort Measures DVD

Watch this DVD and practice along with expecting guest couples as they learn more than 40 different comfort measures for women in labor. Penny shows you exactly how and when to use the techniques in each of the DVD’s four sections:

  • Basic relaxation and rhythmic breathing
  • Comfort measures, devices, and positions
  • Techniques to help with back pain and labor progress
  • Positions and techniques for pushing and birth
Comfort Measures for Childbirth is must-viewing for expecting parents and for anyone who works with women in labor. Order the DVD.

Read about the third stage of labor!
Third Stage e-book cover

The Third Stage of Labor e-book is packed with information about the umbilical cord, the placenta and natural approaches to this phase of birth. This collection of 15 articles from past issues of Midwifery Today magazine includes “Placenta Accreta by Marion Toepke McLean, “Cord Burning” by Kelly Dunn, “On Meconium at Home and Delayed Cord-cutting” by Naolí Vinaver, “Placenta Rituals and Folklore from Around the World” by Sarah J. Buckley and “The Problem Is Induction, Not Meconium” by Gail Hart. Buy your copy and have it with you at the next birth you attend!

Available on Amazon or on Smashwords in a variety of formats.

Learn and review basic midwifery skills
If you’re studying to become a midwife, you need General Skills for the Student Midwife. This 2-DVD set is packed with demonstrations by experienced midwives and nurses and gives you the opportunity to see hands-on skills being performed. Topics covered include Sterile Technique, Basic Treatment of Shock, Maternal Temperature Assessment, Maternal Skin Assessment, Newborn Temperature Assessment and much more! To order General Skills for the Student Midwife

Celebrate birth with Wild Naked Ladies !
From “Attending” to “Zone,” Wild Naked Ladies is a pictorial alphabet showcasing the beauty and power of pregnancy and birth. Each letter has been given a two-page spread where it is lovingly illustrated by a photograph or artwork and accompanying text. Buy it for yourself. Buy it for a friend. Wild Naked Ladies: Mother Nature’s Design for Birth is a book designed to be enjoyed again and again. To order book cover

Fill Your Birth Library with Midwifery Today Back Issues

Midwifery Today back issuesEach 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.

Website Update

Read this article excerpt from Midwifery Today, Winter 2013:

  • Amniotomy and Cord Prolapse by Judy Slome Cohain

    Excerpt: Research shows that artificially rupturing the amniotic sac (amniotomy) can cause umbilical cord prolapse. Amniotomy became a routine part of obstetrical care with the introduction of active management, without evidence of benefit. In the 30 years since active management was introduced, the rate at which amniotomy causes umbilical cord prolapse has not been directly studied.

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Learn more here or contact our Ad Director at ads@midwiferytoday.com.

Birth Q&A

Q: Did ingesting your placenta help with regards to postpartum depression?

— Midwifery Today

A: Yes, I had postpartum depression with my first baby, so I wanted to do anything I could to help myself the second time around. I had my placenta encapsulated the second time and noticed a significant difference! No baby blues and no postpartum depression. I enjoyed that time so much, so I now offer placenta encapsulation within my birth doula business.

— Jackie Kleber

A: Absolutely. I don’t know how I would have coped with my son’s colic had I not been taking my placenta capsules. I chose to make a tincture out of my last few capsules, and I’m able to take a little even now at 11 months postpartum. At 5 months postpartum, I started training with PBi to offer placenta encapsulation services to others. The placenta is in fact a filter, but it does not store toxins. It filters toxins and prevents them from being passed to the baby, but then removes them to be filtered by the mother’s organs. It is absolutely safe for consumption provided the mother is not a smoker.

— Martina Vance

A: The first time I read about this, I thought that was a line I would never cross! But the more I thought about it and considered the postpartum PTSD I’d been suffering for a couple years, I realized I was willing to try anything, even something as nasty-sounding as consuming my baby’s placenta. So I asked someone to encapsulate my placenta for me after my first homebirth. I had only heard of them being used for PPD, so I wasn’t even sure they would work for my PTSD, but the results were amazing. I never had a glimpse of PTSD as long as I took the capsules regularly. When I ran low on capsules, I started rationing them for particularly difficult days. Some of my PTSD symptoms began to return when I stopped taking them every day, but then would disappear within an hour of taking one of the carefully-rationed capsules. I confess that I cried when I ran out, but the much needed resting time the capsules provided gave my body an opportunity to rest and heal. When my PTSD symptoms returned a few weeks after running out of capsules, they were much less powerful than before, and I had the energy to address them so I could heal for good. Placenta capsules were just the miracle I needed, and now I provide the service to others.

— Heather Barson

A: But what about all those mothers who do not use placenta pills and still have happy, healthy postpartums? Most women do not get postpartum depression. The only way to find out if the pills are effective at preventing PPD is to do some easy, simple comparison tests of women who use it and women who do not. But these comparisons have never yet been done. The placebo effect is very powerful. I am a skeptic.

— Gail Hart

A: Within 15–20 minutes after taking 1–2 of my “happy pills,” I would go from feeling overwhelmed, panicky and full of rage to a manageable simmer below the surface. I didn’t take placenta pills until baby # 5, and I sure wish I had done it with all the babies before. I will definitely do it again with # 6, and most of my midwifery clients choose to encapsulate as well. Herbal tinctures were not cutting it at the level I needed. If it is just a placebo effect, then so be it; it’s worth every penny to be a fool.

— Christy M. Collins

A: I know of a woman who suffered severe PPD after the birth of her first child. She ended up on pharmaceutical antidepressants. After the birth of her second child, she was not open to eating her placenta but luckily the midwife saved it for her because on day three she started experiencing depression. I prepared her placenta according to a Chinese Medicine recipe and she started taking it and has been fine ever since. Pretty powerful, I’d say!

— Laura Wadhams Nichols

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