Midwifery Today Conference
Strasbourg, France • 19–24 October 2016
“Birth Is a Human Rights Issue”
Wednesday • 19 October 2016 • Pre-Conference
Rights and Realities in European Maternity Care
What is the relationship between women’s human rights on paper and their lived experiences of maternity care on the ground level? This one-day Summit, a joint initiative of Human Rights in Childbirth and Midwifery Today, will convene midwives, consumer activists and human rights advocates from across Europe to discuss the current status of human rights in maternity care systems in both Western and Eastern European nations, as well as to strategize ongoing advocacy efforts to make those rights a universal reality. Speakers from various European nations will illuminate how each country’s regulatory framework impacts women’s choices in childbirth, quality of care and safety for mothers and babies. Afternoon sessions will provide breakout sessions focused on collaboration and strategy for human rights advocacy efforts going forward. Attendees will help to draft a European Consensus Statement on human rights in pregnancy and childbirth, and what is needed to make those rights an accessible reality for all women. [ View or hide full description ]
Human Rights in Childbirth, Roda/Parents in Action, and Make Mothers Matter invite you to join us for the Human Rights in Childbirth Europe Summit 2016.
This event has the following goals:
- To strengthen the work of European maternity care activists by convening them for strategic advocacy planning, activism and advocacy workshops, and collaboration to advance the human rights of all women in maternity care across Europe.
- To report on, and document, what women are experiencing in healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth across Europe, in order to advance advocacy at the local level and to educate human rights lawyers and stakeholders from the European Court of Human Rights and elsewhere.
Representatives of national advocacy groups from across Europe will present reports on how women experience childbirth in their nation’s maternity care system. Reports will focus on two major issues:
- Informed Consent and Refusal: In Konovalova v. Russia, the ECtHR affirmed that informed consent and refusal is a human right and that it remains in effect during childbirth. National groups will share women’s reports on how informed consent and refusal plays out in reality during pregnancy and childbirth.
- Accessing Midwifery/Out-of-Hospital Birth: In numerous cases before the ECtHR, Eastern European governments argue that they should be allowed to refuse to integrate out-of-hospital birth in their maternity care systems, under the assertion that marginalizing midwives or forbidding them to attend home birth increases safety for women and babies by making them go to the hospital. Activists from both Western and Eastern European nations will report on the legal status of out-of-hospital birth in each nation, and how that status affects the reality of women’s choices, experiences, and safety.
This Summit will be an opportunity for activist organizations to present the data that they have collected about women’s experiences of maternity care at the international level at the seat of the European Court of Human Rights. Summit workshops and breakout groups will focus on sharing and strengthening advocacy tools and providing an opportunity for European activists to meet and strategize for ongoing collaboration.
Water is a great facilitator of birth. Many complications can be handled effectively in water; we will consider why water is often the best medium for birth with certain complications. Postpartum hemorrhage, breeches and twins will be discussed. First aid for depressed babies will be covered.
Together we will explore the unique experiences of sexual abuse survivors during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. For these women, these times are especially significant and hold the potential to be both healing and re-traumatizing. We will also discuss secondary trauma in birth care providers and the challenges of midwives who they themselves are sexual abuse survivors.
Miraculous Beginnings is a celebration of pregnancy and birth where moms and dads have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be conscious participants in this miraculous, creative process. When parents celebrate together with their midwife or other health provider the gift of conceiving, schooling in the womb and delivering a child, we all become part of this magical process. From this perspective, pregnancy and birth are what they are meant to be—a joyful and sacred event where mom, baby and dad actively participate in the miracle of creation.
As midwifery incorporates more and more of an impersonal, medicalized mentality, let’s return to the old ways without discounting the new, and preserve the distinction between the art of midwifery and the field of medicine.
Acupuncture can be very useful during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. Only a certified acupuncturist can perform this treatment. Learn about different conditions that can be helped and when to refer to acupuncturists for treatment. Acupressure and cupping are other treatment aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) closely related to acupuncture. In this class you can learn about their use during pregnancy and birth. Demonstration and basics of cupping will be covered in this powerful and informative class. Bring a small towel and your favorite massage oil. In addition, we will look at different massage techniques such as massage for stalled labor and techniques for relaxation and labor pain based on TCM.
Learn about the use of herbs, homeopathics and other natural remedies in pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Learn about practical uses of these remedies for your clients’ ailments and complications, such as using alternatives to halt a hemorrhage and how to keep your clients well. This class is for not just for novices but for everyone!
At a turning point in the history of life on planet earth, midwives are in a position to raise avant-garde questions. Should we expect an evolution of Homo sapiens in relation to the way babies are born? What is the future of underused physiological functions? Can we understand the basic needs of laboring women in the light of modern physiology? Is there a future for midwifery? Can humanity survive the neutralization of the laws of natural selection by reproductive medicine? Are human beings able to phrase vital questions before it is too late?
All are welcome.
Thursday • 20 October 2016 • Pre-Conference
In this class we will see why labor pain is important, how it functions on different levels, and how to find an “entering door” for every woman through the three neurological dimensions of pain evaluation and perception. We will learn about the three dimensions and find specific tools for preparation and training before birth and for specific support and non-pharmacological methods of pain relief during labor.
This class will help develop breech skills such as palpation, assessing fetal weight and amniotic fluid levels and version techniques. Frank, footling and complete breech and complications will be covered. Breech birth is not for the beginning midwife though everyone is welcome in this class (you never know when a breech birth will surprise you).
Join Cornelia in this part of the breech workshop to learn about the special circumstances of breech waterbirth. Breech birth in water improves fetal oxygenation by increasing uterine blood supply during immersion. Mobility of the mother in water allows better interaction of the baby through the pelvis. Fine-tune your skills at this important workshop.
The origin of these techniques and traditions from Mexico goes back thousands of years. We will teach how to use a rebozo, a useful tool in all parts of the childbearing cycle. In this amazing class you will discover simple techniques that promote healthy pregnancy and birth. You will learn many “new” old techniques you can apply immediately to your practice. Time for hands-on practice will be provided. Thea and Mirjam wrote the book The Rebozo Technique Unfolded, with Naolí Vinaver as co-writer.
Our teachers will explain and discuss the causes of shoulder dystocia. They will describe symptoms and signs used to predict it. They will analyze tools and methods used to overcome panic reactions, demonstrate effective treatments and look in-depth at more than 14 maneuvers. They will also cover mnemonics and the latest research. Learn about aspects of shoulder dystocia, including causes, incidence rates, prevention and solutions. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, you need to be ready.
Our teachers will share the protocols and techniques they use to help the mother move through labor. This discussion will include prolonged rupture of membranes, failure to progress, abnormal labor patterns and non-medical intervention. Listen to these experienced midwives discuss constructive and effective ways to handle both normal and difficult situations. Bring your questions and experiences to what promises to be an exciting class.
This gathering of doulas and midwives will begin with a round of introductions from all who join. Next, a brief presentation will be given by European Doula Network (EDN) and then a variety of topics will be covered in hopes of sparking conversation and inspiration. Topics include an open discussion around, “Do doulas need to be mothers?”, doulas moving to a foreign country and what is at stake, joining a local doula organization and relationships between doulas and midwives.
Maison Diocésaine St Pierre
27 rue des Juifs
Friday • 21 October 2016 • Conference Day One
Women’s and babies’ human rights have been violated in today’s birth environment. We need to take a long hard look at our practices and protocols and make sure we are putting motherbaby first. Join us in this conference to discuss how we can establish good birth practices that respect human rights. It is way past time. We will review the many different ways we can be with women, giving them respect, dignity and informed choice. First, do no harm.
Love is the essence of life, and as such it is of primary importance to be bathed by love molecules from day one: conception. Come learn from these physicians how this can be manifested wherever you care for motherbaby and each other. You can teach love in birth rooms where none existed before. In this aggressive world, the need for love is great. Learn what we can do in our role as midwives, doulas and doctors to help promote love, and listen as Michel and Fernando discuss the science behind love.
Verena will discuss maternal positions, various methods of “pushing” and effects on the mechanism of labor. This presentation is designed to help you understand the pathway through the pelvis and the transformation of the perineum as the baby makes his or her way into the world.
Learn about issues regarding tears and repairs and learn about both prenatal and second stage tear prevention. What do you do if a tear occurs? Carol will discuss when to stitch, when you do not need to stitch, and alternatives to stitching . Learn ways to facilitate healing with herbal baths and poultices.
This is a fantastic tool to treat labor dystocias, to get labor restarted and more. This treatment activates the parasympathetic nervous system and facilitates expansion. You can release tensions in the pelvis and pelvic floor and open up the birth channel. You can improve oxytocin, sexual energy and the well-being of the baby, supporting him in his effort of coming into the world. You may avoid many cesarean sections. Every midwife should have this tool!
The fourth stage of labor (welcoming the baby) is intricately linked to everything that happens for mother and baby during birth. There is a biological argument suggesting that the baby experiences strong but somewhat conflicting imperatives during labor. One is to be born, another is to suckle and a third is to survive and feel secure. What we do as midwives, doulas and lactation consultants in the moments and hours after birth can either enhance or hinder their needs—even with a gentle birth. This session will explore the physiologic basis for immediate and continuing motherbaby contact, introducing some biological nurturing variables that have traditionally been overlooked in the mainstream literature. “First, do no harm”—a concept that is a recurring theme in this conference—applies to breastfeeding as well as to birth.
Diane has extensive experience with twin birth. She will discuss strategies for safe twin birth, including positioning, time of delivery, premature delivery and avoiding postpartum hemorrhage, as well as special aspects of prenatal care. The teaching of “how to” skills as well as the telling of amazing birth stories are gifts of this highly-experienced midwife.
Analyzing the various techniques used around the world brings the surprising conclusion that neonatal resuscitation methods are a cultural, not a scientific, norm. The experiences of what works in one hospital unit is often different from a unit in the same city, and practitioners who work in both home and hospital know they often do things differently depending on the setting. Gail will present the concept of safe and effective physiological resuscitation methods that don’t require high technology for implementation.
The term “fetus ejection reflex,” originally used by scientists studying the birth of non-human mammals, was introduced in 1987 by Michel Odent as a key to understand the particularities of human parturition and to illustrate the concept of neocortical inhibition. Authentic midwifery will be presented as the art of protecting pregnant/laboring women against factors that usually transform the fetus ejection reflex into a second stage of labor with the need for voluntary movements.
This amazing doctor-midwife wants you to be prepared for anything and everything! You will learn about how to prepare for uncommon complications you may encounter: excessive bleeding, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), hematoma formation, amniotic fluid embolism and more. Learn about how to manage these while keeping the family and yourself calm. Bring questions and cases to study.
How can we help empower women for birth? This can be done with practical prenatal teaching. Fear in birth can be avoided with practical tools like: relaxation (including the rebozo), breathing, positions and knowledge of the body. We will work with the body in several ways and pay attention to the pelvis and pelvic floor.
In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that the human rights of pregnant women are violated when the state sanctions providers (including midwives) for supporting women in their birth choices. Nevertheless, the law operates in many ways, in many nations, to threaten and punish midwives for supporting women in physiological birth, particularly outside the hospital setting. Midwives often face a choice between doing what is ethical and what is legal. This session will create an opportunity to discuss whether European midwives feel safe in their work, and to work together to claim the right to be treated fairly by the law.
A woman’s personal health and the lifelong health of her new baby are connected to the health of the world we share. Midwives and mothers are the natural protectors of this natural world. We are guarding the future of our families when we guard the health of the air, the water, and the plants and animals around us, as well as the maternal environment—the womb. Gail will discuss some simple steps we can all take to help keep our shared home healthy and safe for the generations to come after us.
Michel Odent will put on a play! The cabaret is for everyone to show their many talents, whether in song, dance or whatever you do that you would like to share.
Saturday • 22 October 2016 • Conference Day Two
According to emergent scientific disciplines, we know the following: Newborn babies need maternal love; this need has been ignored for thousands of years (routine separation of mother and babies, delayed initiation of breastfeeding, etc.). Newborn babies are supposed to be colonized by friendly microbes that immediately educate their immune system: Until recently all microbes were considered enemies. The stress induced by uterine contractions has a positive role to play in the development of human beings: Until recently the word “stress” had an exclusively negative connotation.
Understanding the neuroendocrine dynamics in pregnancy and labor, the role of the fight or flight reactions and how they change in women during the mothering circle of life offers a deeper understanding of many phenomena in pregnancy and labor. When there are problems, this understanding can be a key in seeking non-medical treatments that lead back to health. You will read scientific papers with new eyes after this class.
How can you hold onto your autonomy in a medical setting? A huge part of our role as a midwife is to advocate for the motherbaby. This is made much more difficult when we are in a medical setting with all of the policies, protocols, guidelines and politics that seem to be “in charge.” How can we fully support motherbaby and yet work within these limits? Come and learn about how to empower yourself so you can provide justice for motherbaby and enhance your autonomy within your chosen vocation. There will be opportunity to share experiences both good and bad and to think outside the box.
What are we to do when the due date comes and goes? What are the real risks of prolonged pregnancy? How do we assess for signs of postmaturity syndrome? How do we know when it is time to intervene, and how do we intervene when it’s needed? Let’s look at what the evidence says about risks and how to mitigate them, discuss how to monitor the prolonged pregnancy, and learn about how to balance protocols with common sense. Also covered will be how to calculate due dates as accurately as possible, and how to determine fetal well-being.
“The Spinning Babies Lady” helps fit the puzzle pieces to overcoming lack of progress. Common issues from lack of engagement, shoulder dystocia and breech obstruction are described with the spatial solution. We are looking at a few concrete aspects, not trying to include every potential. Increase your familiarity with the pelvic diameters. When reaching into a woman’s pelvis is as familiar to you as your sock drawer you will better know which way to turn a stuck baby and use flexion and adduction to save lives.
In this well-loved Midwifery Today format, you’ll sit in on three interesting and inspiring roundtables of your choice. Roundtables will include:
As many as one out of three women are survivors of trauma (abuse, neglect, violence). Certain aspects of the childbearing experience can potentially reopen emotional wounds, activate unhelpful coping mechanisms and cause further trauma. Learn about how to identify these special women and care for them in a way that is healing instead of re-traumatizing. Discover ways to adapt your relational style to her individual personality in a way that meets her unique needs. We can do so much to generate positive outcomes, ensure greater satisfaction with the birth experience and facilitate bonding with the newborn in trauma survivors. This practical class will show you how.
Cornelia has been practicing having the mother catch her own baby, mostly in water, for over 35 years. Her insight and subtle understanding of birth, babies and women are outstanding. Breakthrough discoveries in birth psychology and newborn reflexes will be illustrated with amazing video sequences.
Asynclitism is a common cause of failure to descend. Gail tells us, “Some years ago, in her talk about occiput-posterior (OP) myths, Penny Simkin said we need more techniques for asynclitism. I listened and practiced and now feel I have something to share.” Learn about why asynclitism happens and what to do about the tipped head. Slides will help you visualize what is happening. There will be time to practice techniques presented.
Many of our traditional “folk cures” are more than superstition: there is science to support them! Come find out why our ancestors believed that certain herbs or particular techniques were effective.
There are many interesting midwives who join us from around the world. We will ask some of them to share their issues and practices with us. As well, we will brainstorm about how we can effect changes in midwifery and childbirth on the global level. We will learn about the midwifery and birth movements going on around the world and how you can help. We can make changes for the better with knowledge of global possibilities.
Sunday • 23 October 2016 • Conference Day Three
Learn about the role of oxytocin as an inner guide for motherhood. Oxytocin stimulates social interactive behaviors, reduces pain and increases calm and relaxation. Fernando will describe how oxytocin is released in both mother and baby during labor, breastfeeding and in response to skin-to-skin contact. He will also discuss how routines in the labor and maternity ward may influence these adaptations. Closeness, particularly right after birth, increases the strength of the adaptations. These adaptations may be disturbed by medical interventions.
Learn about the essence of a homebirth practice with practical information. Explore the many benefits of homebirth and the skills required. Carol will present different ways to provide the homebirth client with the highest standard of care. She will explore the homebirth model and why it is best for mothers and babies. She will explain how to go about setting up and maintaining a homebirth practice.
Fear in pregnancy and birth can have many consequences for both the family and health care provider. This class will help you define, understand and move through the fear that confronts us. Learn several ways of helping women, including midwives and doulas, turn fear into trust.
Most women can be relatively comfortable throughout labor if they have tools for relaxation, support and confidence. Much of the pain in childbirth is caused by fear and anxiety. Fear increases tension, which increases pain, which increases fear. Midwives and doulas can use methods to reduce fear and tension in order to reduce pain.
Nurturing a woman in a hospital setting for a wholesome birth experience requires consistent attention to emotional and physical detail, compassion and focus on her goals. All this can be accomplished when professional colleagues with varied backgrounds and the people in the woman’s support circle strategize a plan that creates safety. We will study the issues in detail and discuss the obstacles, concerns and solutions arising from a planned or unexpected hospital birth.
Gail shares her educational path to becoming the Spinning Babies Lady and creating a rotation-focused approach to birth. Gail will share the stories of three births and what they taught her that is helping change birth. These are not the easy births, these are the mothers and the births that taught her: 1) The first long labor, 2) The platypelloid pelvis, and 3) Long arc rotation through an android pelvis and the arm behind the back. Learn about how to observe, how to support long labors, and how to put it all together!
The way we are born affects our lives and the lives of future generations. Factors include hormones, microbes and the way human traits pass down through generations. Research of recent years and decades will be reviewed during this session.
Out of the ashes of clashes between humane birth practitioners and industrialized medicine, there is great hope for the future of the motherbaby birth year. Our dreams will be realized by each of us working in our community for positive change. In this closing session, let’s reiterate some of the best of what we have learned in this important conference.
Monday • 24 October 2016 • Post-Conference
Learn to spot a long labor before labor begins and turn it around to a shorter labor. This course goes beyond Optimal Fetal Positioning with the 3 Principles of Spinning Babies: Balance, Gravity and Movement in pregnancy and in labor. Compare anterior and posterior fetal position. Practice labor progress techniques appropriate to the level of descent and tell whether a cesarean is needed or just more time. Fewer transports and cesareans may be possible now. “When I took Gail’s class I knew we had to have this amazing teacher join us in Midwifery Today conferences.”—Jan Tritten