Vicki Penwell, LM, CPM, MSM, MA, has provided clinical maternity care for decades in low-resource, high-mortality countries and regularly teaches on midwifery best practice, dividing her time between living in the USA and the Philippines. She is the founder and Executive Director of Mercy In Action, a global NGO sponsoring birth centers in the Philippines, and Mercy In Action College of Midwifery, a MEAC-accredited school in the USA that promotes a global perspective on the provision of maternity care. Through the college, Mercy In Action offers many accredited CEU courses for practicing midwives, as well as offering a post-graduate diploma in midwifery & maternal/child health. Vicki has earned a master’s degree in midwifery and another master’s degree in intercultural studies. She is married to Scott, her husband of 42 years, and together they have raised three “Third Culture Kids” and now have two daughters-in-law and five second-generation TCK grandkids. Among their descendants are three CPMs, one MD, and one in medical school now; they all work for or volunteer with Mercy In Action in some capacity!
Photo by Jason Leung
Globally, there is the problem of the over-medicalization of childbirth, but there is also the problem of the under-utilization of lifesaving care, and marginalized people often suffer needlessly from lack, rather than overuse, of health care during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum recovery. This quote from Miller et al. Read more…. Become an Implementing Partner of the International Childbirth Initiative: A Model for Safety and Respect in Childbirth that Works in Every Setting, Everywhere in the World
Photo by Ian Penwell
It is the universal joy of every community midwife to run into a family months or years later and see them with the baby you so lovingly helped them bring into the world
Read more…. The Role of the Midwife in the First 1000 Days
Use of the Non-Pneumatic Anti-Shock Garment (NASG) being used to treat shock after a postpartum hemorrhage.
Photos by Ian Penwell
Speaking figuratively, a double-edged sword refers to something that has both positive and negative consequences. It will either hurt you or have a harmful cost, or it will help you and be good for you.
Read more…. Birth Interventions: A Double-Edged Sword
Photos by Ian Penwell
The most exciting thing to me about the future of midwifery is the non-traditional nature of midwifery education in America and the potential it has to become a model for the world. Student midwives can train by apprenticeship at the same time they also earn college degrees in midwifery, without ever leaving their home community. This is a game-changer. Read more…. Future-Thinking Midwifery Education: Birthing the Midwives We Need
Happy Postpartum Mother
Photo by Hannah Norris
In past articles I wrote in this series, I mentioned that while visiting Thailand years ago, I found that they have a charming expression that translates in English to “same same but different” (vendors in the market will say this to you repeatedly as they show you different products in the same basic grouping).
Read more…. PostPartum Care in the Context of a Developing Country
Photos provided by Author
Vicki with Students
To equip means to prepare someone sufficiently in all aspects, for a particular situation or task. Everyone who aspires to become a midwife desires to be properly equipped for this task.
Read more…. Building Strong Foundations for Midwifery Education: The World Needs Midwives, Now More Than Ever!
In my first and second articles in this series, I mentioned that in Thailand, they have an expression that translates in English to “same same but different.” As is true with pregnancy and labor and delivery, so it is true of caring for the newborn, as well. There are unique aspects to newborn care in a low-resource setting and, while many elements of caring for a newborn baby in the six weeks following birth are universal, the midwife needs to be aware of how best practices can be different according to the setting. The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) has created global standards, competencies, and guidelines to ensure that midwives in all countries have effective education and skills (ICM 2018). When working in developing countries where newborn mortality is high in the neonatal period, the midwife should possess advanced skills and be humble about the high-risk population in which she may find herself. Business as usual will not be adequate or even ethical in these situations.
Read more…. Newborn Care in the Context of a Developing Country
Photo by Rachel Joy Barehl
The author shares her experience after thousands of birth that labor is a continuum rather than being divided into stages. If left undisturbed, women will not even experience a “second stage.”
Read more…. The Disappearing Second Stage
Vicki Penwell shares the essentials of a training by Mercy in Action on how to deal with the unexpected during a birth. Read more…. Expect the Unexpected
The author with midwife Imelda Catama and one of the 14,700 families who have
delivered in one of Mercy In Action’s birth centers in the Philippines since 1991
Labor in a developing country can be very different than in a developed country. In this second in her series of article, Vicki Penwell shares the challenges faced by laboring women in the Philippines and other countries.
Read more…. Labor and Delivery Care in the Context of a Developing Country
Rachel Joy Barehl
In Thailand, there is an expression when comparing two things that are similar yet not exact; in English it translates to “same same but different.” So it is with the provision of prenatal care in the context of a developing country. There are unique aspects to maternity care in a low-resource setting and, while some prenatal care elements are universal, the midwife needs to be aware of how best practices can be different according to the setting.
Read more…. Prenatal Care in the Context of a Developing Country
International midwife Vicki Penwell discusses the culture of homebirth in America to see what might be done to improve the life-long health of the baby.
Read more…. Microbiome and Midwives: A Look at Culture