What is a country contact?
Country contacts are individuals who have offered to share information about the practice of midwifery in their respective countries or in countries about which they have first-hand knowledge. Country contacts are NOT agents or representatives of Midwifery Today, Inc., nor does their listing constitute a recommendation of their services by Midwifery Today, Inc.
Midwifery Today maintains as many country contacts for as many countries as possible so you—our colleagues—have a person to help you with midwifery and birth issues in their country. You may need to find a midwife for yourself or a friend, you might be traveling and want to meet midwives or doulas, or maybe you need information about birth in that country.
Country contacts also help Midwifery Today get the word out about our magazine and conferences. Four times a year we send our country contacts a question about a midwifery or birth issue to answer for our international-themed e-newsletter. To subscribe to our free E-News go to our signup page.
While we apologize for any inconvenience, Midwifery Today will generally not release Country Contact e-mail addresses to students searching for volunteer or apprenticeship opportunities due to the volume of requests. In addition, Midwifery Today will not release country contact e-mail addresses to commercial interests.
In all cases Midwifery Today reserves the right to determine whether to release country contact e-mail addresses.
To reach a Midwifery Today country contact, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Sabera Turkmani and Sharon Craig Economides
Sabera Turkmani has completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Midwifery from Mashad Medical University, Iran, in 2002. Her experience in Iran involved working with Afghan refugees providing reproductive health services under a UNFPA-funded project. Upon returning to Afghanistan she worked with International Medical Corps (IMC) as a midwifery trainer in a tertiary referral teaching hospital. Since 2005 she was working with JHPIEGO, Health Services Support Project (HSSP), funded by USAID, where she was the midwifery technical advisor for JHPIEGO’s midwifery pre-service education programs in Afghanistan. She has experience in performance quality improvements in midwifery education and clinical site strengthening. She was also a leading member of the national midwifery education accreditation board and with the board has actively participated in the establishment of midwifery education policies and standards for the country. Sabera is currently working on a master’s degree in public health at the James P. Grant school of public health, BRAC University in Bangladesh.
Sharon Craig Economides was born at home with a midwife. She has worked as a midwife and humanitarian in homes, birth centers, and in the hospital setting in Russia, the Philippines, Haiti, Afghanistan and California. As an undergraduate, Sharon studied English Literature at the University of California at Berkeley and holds a Master’s degree in Midwifery from the University of Sheffield in the UK. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She is a freelance writer; her articles have been published in Midwifery Today, Sojourners, Pakistan’s The Friday Times and other publications.
Marina Lembo, RM, has worked in maternity units with 20 births a day, confronting OB/GYN interventions and gender violence. She started homebirths assistance after time in Canada. She is the co-founder of the first birthing centre in Argentina. She advocates homebirth and independent midwifery.
Aruba is under the Dutch medical system and everyone here has a general insurance, which pays for all your prenatal visits and care. You are automatically under the care of any midwife you choose. Mothers categorized as “high risk” fall directly under an obstetrician’s care. VBAC is a requirement here, which is nice; however, the obstetricians are very impatient, as we already know. Under the general insurance, every single thing is covered, even c-sections.
We do have what is called “kraam hulp” in Holland, which is postnatal nurse care, but it is not yet covered by the insurance and can be pretty costly. It’s more traditional in our culture that family helps out around the home following a birth. We also have a pretty generous 12 weeks of 100%-paid maternity leave.
I am also a board member and the second treasurer of our only nonprofit breastfeeding organization.
That is a little bit about our tiny island of Aruba.
San Nicolas, Aruba
Alison Higgs moved to southern Australia from New Zealand and finds the differences fascinating. She tells us, “Even though we are neighbours it is as if we are in different decades.” She was a self-employed midwife in New Zealand in remote rural areas for 16 years and is now employed in a very remote part of South Australia. She has worked in tertiary units and primary units thus developing a broad experience in midwifery.
- Mullumbimby Birth Centre—rural, freestanding birth center
- Homebirth Access Sydney
- The Maternity Coalition
- Women’s Information Service
- Women’s Health Victoria
- Birth International
- Homebirth Australia
- Home Midwifery Association (QLD) Inc
- The New South Wales Midwives Association
- Australian Women’s Health Network (AWHN)
- La Leche League—Australia Chapter
- Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond—Jane Palmer
- Australian Breastfeeding Association
- The International College of Spiritual Midwifery (I.C.S.M.)
- Australian College of Midwives, Inc.
- Royal College of Nursing
- Capers Birth and Midwifery Books
- What Women Want—The political party for Australian women
Mary DeLashmutt became a CNM in 1969. She is a birth activist in the Bahamas. She is the founder and a member of Doula Delight.
She says her goals for midwifery are no different that that of IAM. Mary tells us: “For the Bahamas, my hope is to have mother respectful, safe, normal and natural birth become the way of birth in this Commonwealth rather than the abusive event it is. I will not live long enough to see it happen but I envision, one day, an empowerment sufficient enough for women to have the birth they want, safely and with respect for the gift they give this world: new life, new hope and the uniqueness of the baby › child › adult that newborn becomes.”
Lieve Huybrechts, Lisette Geerdens, and Veerle Bekaert
Gail Johnson lives in Corazol Town (northern Belize) and would like to be in contact with other midwives in Central America so they may support each other. Gail is a semi-retired Certified Professional Midwife with thirty-plus years of experience in natural birth and water birth. Gail tells us: “I am licensed in Texas and in Belize. I now do only a few births each year, but, since I am semi-retired I am able to be a traveling midwife and to provide more personalized and individualized care to women world-wide. In addition to my limited midwifery practice, I also developed some childbirth classes for the Corozal District Hospital. Also, with approval of the Minister of Health and the Director of Nursing, I have taught evidence-based maternity care topics in Belize.” Gail is also a Red Cross volunteer and a Red Cross instructor teaching First Aid.
Nicole Stovell writes: “We are trying to re-educate Bermuda’s residents about pregnancy, birth and birthing options. The OB/GYN model is the only one in place in Bermuda. We are working to change this so that people have midwifery options, i.e., homebirthing and a birthing center.
Khumo D. Modisaeman is a registered nurse and midwife. She has a Bachelor’s degree in nursing and an MSc in Advanced Midwifery. She previously lectured in the General Nursing Department (OB/GYN) and the Midwifery department at the Institute of Health Sciences and the University of Botswana Nursing department. She worked in antenatal clinic and maternity ward in the early years of her career at two district hospitals in Botswana and has been involved in Midwifery Education since 1998. She is working on formation of a midwifery interest group in Botswana.
Heloisa Lessa and Regine Marton
Heloisa Lessa is a nurse-midwife and got her masters in the subject of homebirth in an urban area of Brazil. She is an autonomous midwife doing homebirth in Rio de Janeiro a city with over six million people. She is coordinator of ReHuNa, the national net for Humanizing of Birth in Brazil. She also works with indigenous tribes and traditional midwives in the Amazon forest. She is a very active midwife and has organized large conferences about childbirth. The last one in 2005 was attended by over 2,000 persons from 15 countries.
Regine Marton, MS CNM RN, is a French and American CNM trained in the US. She had lived for more than 15 years with her husband and three children in Sao Paulo, Brazil, before she came to NYS to complete her nurse midwifery program as well as her doula prentice. She is now back in Recife, Brazil, and works for better perinatal outcomes in the poorest part of the area and collaborates closely with traditional midwives of the area. She also works extensively in preparing women for birth in water or on land with Aquanatal and Watsu. Her other fields of interest are public health, sustainable living for all, ethnobotany and religious anthropology. She is an instructor at Aviva institute where she teaches Spanish, Spanish for birth professionals, and Global health.
Toni Kalushkova and Yoana Stancheva
Toni Kalushkova hopes to set up her own pregnancy school. She graduated in midwifery education in 1988 at the Medicine College of Varna. After that she worked as a midwife for 12 years, consulting and helping with pregnant women. After reform in the Bulgarian health care system in the year 2000, Toni lost her job. She and a colleague operated their own health care center for nine years. Toni tells us, “In our country the midwife cannot have self practice, but must be working with a doctor. Pictures from our breastfeeding action can be seen on my website: www.happymumsbg.com” She would be happy to hear from others about working on such projects.
Yoana Stancheva is a doula who is on her way to a midwifery degree in the upcoming years. She says she loves what Jan Tritten said once: “It’s a natural progression for moms to become doulas, and for doulas to become midwives.” This is very much how things have unfolded for me. Yoana is Chair of the Association of Bulgarian Doulas. Yoana hopes that midwifery worldwide will rehabilitate its status as a true science with its unique methods and skills. She tells Midwifery Today how she envisions the future of birth and midwifery: “I envision powerful women of the present looking back to gather the essence of womanhood, healing our surroundings, offering true recipes for healthy babies and mothers, cooking soul food to keep our families strong and inspired for life.”
Maggie Traoré received her NARM certification in 2006 and is back in her “home” country now. Maggie reports: “We really need the input from other countries midwives to move forward our presentation in Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso is one of the three poorest countries in the world. We have in mind to do some research projects, birth preparation counseling/classes, and other projects to promote and propagate safe, healthy, evidence-based maternity practices.”
Louise McDonald has been practising midwifery in Canada since 1988 and has attended births in Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia (her home base), Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. She trained in 1986 with the Association of Ontario Midwives which pioneered the introduction of legislated midwifery in Canada. Louise is the mother of four homeborn sons and partner of a “long-suffering man who still wholeheartedly supports this difficult profession!” She is interested in sharing information about the challenges of “midwifing this northern nation into the 21st century.”
Mónica Guitart and Francisca Orchard
Mónica Guitart is chief midwife at Clínica Santa María, where midwives are committed to educating women and couples about developing a loving relationship with the fetus during the pregnancy, preparing for natural delivery and subsequently loving care of the babies. Midwives, in our center now, prepare mothers for natural delivery with yoga course, hypnosis, acupuncture, raiki and other natural medicine.
Francisca Orchard is an independant midwife, MS, and also a lactation consultant. She is interested in creating networks for Chilean professionals with the rest of the world. She believes that birth is a normal process and that one of the best practices to diminish our cesarean rates is to work under the midwifery model and to reduce medicalization of births. Francisca tells Midwifery Today, “Chile has a powerful interventional model of care for labor, with a high rate of inductions and many women are looking for a different way to give birth.”
Mavis Chen reports that in China, midwives cannot attend a homebirth without fear of losing their licenses. She says China’s c-section rate is very high, some areas already having surpassed 50%, though it is beginning to come down in some of the public hospitals.
In hopes of improving birth in China, Mavis began a business in 2004 training doulas. Her business now provides over 40 birth doulas in more than 20 hospitals and over 500 postpartum doulas who spend 30–42 days living in the home of the new mother and baby. She also offers birth classes for new moms. She hopes to bring more international conferences to China to help bring about greater awareness of natural birth. Mavis speaks Mandarin and English.
Eloïse Maeva Ciceron is a midwife, doula instructor, childbirth educator and postpartum/lactation consultant currently based in Colombia. She studied midwifery in Mexico, with Nueve Lunas in Oaxaca and apprenticed at Luna Maya birth center in the state of Chiapas. She is also a certified doula and has been working with Birth Arts International as the Spanish and French doula instructor since 2009. She also completed a professional certification program with Laura Gutman in Argentina and incorporates this method into the care she provides to women and their families. She is currently studying Chinese Medicine in Colombia.
Eloïse is a strong supporter and active participant of the worldwide humanisation of birth movement and has actively been a member of various midwifery and doula organisations throughout Latin America and written several articles on different aspects of midwifery and doula care. She is currently the midwife and coordinator of a home birth team in Cali, Colombia, called ALUNA which hopes to open a birth center soon, and is a founding member of Asociación Parir. Read more about Eloïse here.
Uva Meiner and Marie Tyndall
Uva Meiner, Holistic Homebirth Midwife, works out of her home-based office, “The Womb.” Uva has been involved with spiritual psychotherapy, natural medicine, including herbs, Flower Essence therapy, homeopathy, Martrix Energetics, Bioresonance, Reiki and Shamanism, which, together with water, are tools on the way to an empowered and conscious birth. She works on (possibly) Preconception, preparation for birth on many levels, Birth, and extended Postpartum care including parenting, on the path to becoming aware, informed, and empowered parents, contributing to a more peaceful, harmonious, and respectful humanity. She works with an apprentice, a dedicated young woman on her way to becoming a midwife, and she teaches/guides a young women’s circle of doulas and aspiring midwives.
Marie Tyndall is a midwife who has worked in diverse settings—from hospitals in Canada and England to rural communities in Iraq and Nicaragua. Originally from Canada, she now resides in Costa Rica where she works with her midwife partner Rebecca Turecky offering holistic homebirth and waterbirth services for intimate and gentle birth. Marie has worked for many years to support traditional midwives throughout Central America. You can find out more about childbirth in Costa Rica though her Web site www.mamasol.com.
Zuzana Stromerova tells us: “I am an independent midwife, attending homebirths and making a tremendous effort to open an independent birth house in Czech Republic. My field of interest is support of natural, not intervened, birth as a healthy social and family event in a woman’s life. I have worked 15 years in obstetric clinic, three years in Active Birth Centre which I have designed and initiated. This birth centre had been a part of the hospital. I have worked since 2000 as an independent midwife.”
As a direct entry midwife, Marlene Gryesten began practicing in California in 1993, following an apprenticeship in Humboldt, and in Denmark since 2000. She is now practising as a “known midwife,” paid and supported by the government, servicing 120 women a year. Women are offered their choice of setting, at their home, at a freestanding clinic or at the local university hospital. Over 50 midwives share call with equal time off, serving as many as 3600 birthing women a year. They wish to establish this as a common standard of practice in our midwifery center.
“As a TCM acupuncturist, I supervise my collegues on the labor ward, making sure they stay inspired to use acupuncture as a first choice when they have diagnosed need for augmentation, pain control, stuck placentas or such. In my private practise I offer yoga therapy, acupuncture and birth prep classes. For fun I continue to teach prenatal yoga, share information on how to keep birth sacred, do an occasional belly cast, or find other ways to love up pregnant women.”
Shalena King and Veronica Torah
Shalena King has been a labor and delivery Registered Nurse for 12 years and is now a Traditional Midwifery student. She has helped thousands of babies come into the world under all types of circumstances and environments. She is Executive Director of Midwives for the Dominican Republic, an organization dedicated to bringing midwifery to the Dominican Republic.
Shalena says her goal is for every woman in every country to have a choice and a voice and adequate access to midwifery care. She further tells Midwifery Today: “I envision the world beginning to look at birth not as a medical complication but as a natural, normal process of life. I envision midwives being used for all low-risk pregnancies and births, and physicians using their skills for more complicated pregnancies, surgery and disease processes occurring during a woman’s pregnancy.”
Shalena speaks English and Spanish.
Elbia Martinez graduated from the Central University of Ecuador then traveled to many countries following humanized birth conferences (Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, etc.). She is now studing general psychology to learn ways to improve services to birthing women. She has a natural birth center in Cuenca, Ecuador, with volunteer doula support, where natural childbirth can be what the mother wants, whether vertical birth, waterbirth, and so forth, respecting the times and the physiology of natural childbirth. Their goal is to offer a family atmosphere, with intimacy, love and trust.
Elbia tells Midwifery Today: “We started our humanized delivery care conference in Quito after the arrival of Dr. Michel Odent, with whom we shared the benefits of waterbirth. We have a mission in this world, to help create a world with more love, giving humanized care to mothers and newborns. I want a build a project of homebirth near to nature, to enable women to live fully their birth.”
Hanaa Kassem has worked as an OB/GYN since 1992 with a focus on natural birth techniques, and is the only the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth teacher in Egypt. She works currently as Specialist of Obstetrics and Gynecology at The Alexandria Regional Centre for Women’s Health and Development, a regional center for women in Egypt and Africa. The center has provided many training courses for nurses, midwives and doctors from Sudan and all over Egypt and Africa in maternity care, antenatal care and midwife skills.
One of Hanaa’s goals for international birth is to provide training for doulas, as there are currently only a handful of doulas in Egypt, all foreigners. Hanaa tells Midwifery Today: “I have the passion to spread natural birth and homebirth throughout Egypt.” Hanaa’s languages include Arabic and English. She can be reached through her site: Natural Childbirth Alex Egypt
Bekem Dibaba Degefa and Gebresilasea Gendisha
Bekem Dibaba Degefa has been an assistant lecturer at Mettu University in the Oromia region of southwestern Ethiopia. She is studying for a masters of science in clinical midwifery at Arba Minch University. Bekem has helped design a masters and PhD program in the relatively new midwifery department. She has also been working with NGOs such as Ipas and ICAP, which provide health care for women and girls in refugee camps.
In the future Bekem plans to work with other midwives internationally with the goal of improving midwifery knowledge and skills through training and sharing updated information online. Her languages include English, Amharic, and Afaan oromo.
Gebresilasea Gendisha currently teaches at Arbaminch University College of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Merewairita Valu, BNS, Certificate in Midwifery, is a Midwifery and Child Health Lecturer at the Fiji National University.
Pia Esselström is a midwife (graduated 2004) who has worked in the postnatal ward, the antenatal ward and labor-emergency duty/ward (the place where women first come when they come to give birth at hospital and all the pregnant women who have some problems in their pregnancy). Pia and a doula friend started their own business, called “The Nest,” for pregnant women and women who have given birth and their families. Pia is also involved with assosiation called Active Birth in Finland, responding to questions that people send to the assosiation considering anything and everything about pregnancy and labour. Most of the questions are about homebirths.
Pia tells us: “I have four children of my own and after birthing my second baby in water I got more and more interested in physiological birth, natural birth. My goals for international midwifery: getting our power and strengths together for better pregnancy-care and birthing for motherbaby and the whole family. I think that together we can do much more to make things better and at the same time enjoy doing it by getting together and spreading the love that is connecting people all around the world!”
Pia speaks Finnish, Swedish and English.
Françoise Bardes and Hélène Goninet
Françoise Bardes was born in Paris, France. She was a midwife at La Protection Maternelle et Infantile (PMI) for three years, followed by 14 years at the University of Paris (institute Mutaliste Montsouris). She has gained a new kind of birth experience in the last year by attending homebirths.
Hélène Goninet has been a midwife since 1992, attending home births. She gave birth herself at home in 1983 and that gave her the desire to become a midwife. Hélène “met” Midwifery Today at the conference in Strasbourg, France, in 2010 and enjoyed meeting midwives and doulas from all other the world “who think like me!” She believes all babies should have the most natural birth possible and should be welcomed in the most gentle way, and that mothers should be well treated all over the world.
Cornelia Enning is a licensed midwife practicing in Muehlacker, Germany, since 1975. She specializes in home waterbirths and has written several books about waterbirth obstetrics and swimming for babies. Since 1994, Cornelia has taught hospital staff and homebirth midwives about waterbirth midwifery. She also publishes a quarterly German-language newsletter, Wasserbaby Post, and is web mistress of www.hebinfo.de.
Abena Odum Okra has been serving women in Ghana through the maternal/child health services. She started childbirth education in 2000 as an intervention to remove the high level of ignorance that birthing women were faced with. She is also a guest speaker on a radio talk show on reproductive health and women’s health. She is an advocate of natural birth, improving maternity care and women’s empowerment. She initiated Eve’s Foundation (see below), a program to help educate the birthing community and to help reduce the high rate of maternal deaths in Ghana.
Abena is a single mother of two boys, Kwame and Nana. She qualified as a state registered nurse (SRN) in 1983, as a midwife in 1987, and as a public health nurse in 2001. She enlisted in the Ghana Police Service as a nurse in 1992 where she is still employed.
Helen Serpetini is an Independent Midwife who graduated from TEI (university) of Athens, in Midwifery School in 2004. She is currently involved with waterbirth, homebirth and natural birth (both inside clinics and at home). She manages the only Greek website for waterbirth (www.toketosstonero.gr). Helen’s goals for international midwifery are that all midwives are united and well educated in order to help awakening women. She says, “Women have the right to know their options in childbirth. Women must stop surrendering their bodies, their souls and their babies in bad health care providers.“
Helen tells Midwifery Today, “As far as I remember (even when I was 10 years old), I always wanted to become the woman who helps others to give birth. … I hope there will be one day that all pregnant women will have the birth of their dreams and that we (midwives, OBs, pediatricians, pregnant women, mothers and families) treat newborns and babies with the respect and dignity they deserve.” Helen is proficient in Greek and English.
Jennifer Houston is the director of Midwives for Midwives whose work is to support and strengthen midwifery in Guatemala through training and intercultural exchange. She and several other dedicated activists and midwives started the clinic in Antigua Guatemala in 1997 offering women full scope midwifery care. The organization continues to train midwives in Guatemala. Additionally, they offer the opportunity to place students to live and work with a traditional indigenous Guatemalan midwife.
Nadene Brunk is a CNM graduate of Frontier School of Nurse-Midiwfery in 1997, MSN in Community Health from UVA in 1990. Currently she works for Virginia Women’s Center of Richmond, Virginia, in full-scope midwifery care and women’s health care. Nadene began Midwives for Haiti in 2006, a non-profit organization with the goal to reduce maternal and infant mortality in Haiti by increasing the number of skilled attendants in rural and clinical areas.
Jeanne Hauguel is a birth and postnatal doula and childbirth educator in Hong Kong. She is the mother of two sons, born in 2009 and 2011 in Hong Kong. During her own pregnancies, Jeanne became fascinated by the process of birth and inspired by the capabilities of women’s bodies. After the birth of her second son, she decided to train to become a doula. Having been away from her mother and friends during her own pregnancies, births and postnatal periods, Jeanne feels strongly about being there for others when they embark on the journey of parenthood.
Jeanne is a certified birth and postpartum doula, a certified waterbirth doula and a certified childbirth educator. She is currently continuing her education to become a certified breastfeeding counselor and is in the certification process with Hypnobabies. Jeanne’s languages are French and English.
Andrea Noll and Nóra Schimcsig
Andrea Noll is a board member and international contact coordinator for the Hungarian Association of Midwives. She is also Midwifery Today’s country contact for Hungary. Andrea is currently in the process of translating Anne Frye’s Holistic Midwifery into Hungarian. She is founding co-editor of Bábák, szülésznok, the Hungarian Association’s midwifery magazine. She’s currently studying at the Maternidad La Luz midwifery school in El Paso, Texas. On her graduation and return to Hungary (planned for March 2005), she will be the first modern-age midwife of her country with out-of-hospital training.
Nóra Schimcsig is a doula, HBCE, activist and mom. She speaks English, German fluently besides Hungarian.
Kristbjörg Magnúsdóttir is a midwife at the National University Hospital in Reykjavik. She works part-time in the delivery ward. The University Hospital has about 2800 births per year out of 4000 in Iceland. She works for the Icelandic Midwifery Association, negotiating for higher wages and better benefits for midwives in Iceland who work for the government (all the hospitals are government run). She has three children, two of whom were born at home.
Manju Chhugani, Uma Handa, and Vijaya Krishnan
Manju Chhugani is an academician, researcher and trainer, and versatile leader in the field of nursing and midwifery with 20 years of extensive hands-on experience in the area of maternal and child health and university teaching. Manju Chhugani brings a unique mix of deep research experience and proven capabilities in leading teams while implementing educational programmes. She holds an office with the Society of Midwives (India), Central, and works tirelessly to achieve safe motherhood in India, working with various International NGOs like UNICEF, UNFPA and the Centre for Development and Population Activities (Cedpa). She is also a member of Global Alliance for Nurses and Midwives and a member of Midwifery Research Advisory Network.
Uma Handa has a BS and an MSc in Nursing with specialization in obstetrics and gynecology. She has worked in the field of nursing since 1974, in nursing educational institutions in both the conventional and distance system, as well as in national and international health agencies. Countries in which she has worked include Sri Lanka, UK, Bangladesh and South Africa (University of Namibia—UNAM). She has received many special awards throughout her career. She speaks English, Hindi (her mother tongue), as well as Punjabi and Marathi.
Vijaya Krishnan is a certified professional midwife (CPM), and the co-founder and director of Healthy Mother Sanctum, Natural Birth Center, and the leading official Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) in India. She is a graduate of the Midwifery Program from National College of Midwifery, USA. She is also a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and runs the Healthy Mother Lamaze Accredited Childbirth Educator Program, in order to educate and certify Lamaze educators all over India.
At her Natural Birth Center, The Sanctum, she has pioneered a unique Collaborative Model of Care, where women receive independent midwife-led care through pre-conception, pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum, with back-up support and emergency infrastructure on site. Since 2009, her birth venter has an overall 94% natural birth rate, even with women with complex needs giving birth naturally, with routine VBACs, VBA2C, twin births, and breech births. She believes strongly that respectful maternity care is the most important key to helping women have an informed and empowered birth.
Vijaya has been inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators (FACCE) in recognition of the work she is doing to bring about positive, sustainable change in birth practices in India. She is also the chapter leader of ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network), and runs the Healthy Mother Breastfeeding Support Network in Hyderabad. She sits on the board of advisors of Birth India, a national advocacy organization, which ensures that women have good information to make healthy choices for their entire reproductive cycle. Vijaya’s articles have been published in Midwifery Today, Journal of Perinatal Education, and online in MIDIRS as well. Over the past two years she has lectured widely and run workshops on gentle birth practices at universities and medical/nursing colleges in India, to sensitize the key care providers into adopting these practices widely.
She believes that through education, advocacy, and practice, we can bring sustainable positive change in current birth practices in India, and decrease maternal mortality and morbidity, while using the Midwifery Model of Care.
Robin Lim is a mother, grandmother, author, poet, midwife and educator who lives in Bali with her husband and children. She is a Certified Professional Midwife, with the North American Registry of Midwives and Ikatan Bidan Indonesia. She is a founder and executive director for Yayasan Ibu Bumi Sehat Birth Center in Bali. Lim splits her time between the birth center and the Tsunami Relief Clinic in Samatiga Aceh, Sumatra. Many of her articles, stories and poems have been published in Midwifery Today magazine and The Birthkit newsletter. Her books After the Baby’s Birth… A Woman’s Way to Wellness and Eating for Two…Recipes for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women were published by Celestial Arts. Lim has been given the Alexander Langer International Peace Award. Read more about Robin Lim in our biography section.
Elham Shirvani, Leila Mostofi, and Narjes Shiraghaei
Elham Shirvani is an Iranian midwife who entered to the world of midwifery around 1988. A direct entry midwife with a B.S. in midwifey from Shahid Beheshti University of Tehran, she has worked in hospitals and clinics and now has a private office in Tehran in which she gives prenatal care services.
Leila Mostofi holds a Bachelor of Specialized Midwifery and, with others, is working to empower mothers, midwives and doulas for physiologic birth in Tehran hospitals, developing programs that include waterbirth, prenatal exercise and antenatal parenting classes, and arranges workshops to teach different birth positions.
Leila works in Alwasl Hospital, the biggest maternity governmental hospital in UAE which is specialized only for maternity and pediatrics. Leila works in the labour suite as one of only four specialized midwives. She plans to expand breastfeeding awareness in hospital. Leila speaks English, Arabic and Farsi.
Narjes Shiraghaei is an Iranian midwife and currently head of the midwifery association in Mazandaran province. Narjes is an activist and is passionate about women’s health and rights. She is determined to continue helping Iranian women by raising awareness about women’s health and related issues.
Tracy Donegan is a doula and active in Doula Ireland. Tracy plans to publish a book called The Better Birth Book intended to give a more balanced view of how birth can be. She says: “I expect it will also ruffle some feathers…which we desperately need.” Tracy also runs the local International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) chapter.
Mindy Levy has been a midwife for since 1995, 10 working in the hospital, six as a homebirth midwife. She also owns and runs a birth center called Agoola and has been involved in educating midwives, doulas and childbirth educators for 13 years. She is a founding member a project in which Israeli and Palestinian midwives meet in order to participate in a dialogue where they can discuss midwifery, mothering, birth and life.
Mindy tell us: “We believe in peace through midwifery. I do volunteer work with pregnant and postpartum women who have fled from Sudan and Eritrea, have crossed the Israeli-Egyptian border and are currently living in Israel as refugees. I am also involved in a midwifery project in Tanzania called FLEMAFA which is now committed to building a maternity waiting house in Kisarawe in an attempt to solve the life-threatening problems of a lack of transportation solutions in times of birth emergencies.”
Mindy speaks English and Hebrew.
Verena Schmid and Valerie Barchiesi
Verena Schmid has been a midwife since 1979 in Florence, Italy, and has been an active midwife for over 25 years. She founded a center for natural and homebirth with continuity of care from conception until the first year of the baby; a midwifery magazine; and a school of physiology (Elemental School of Midwifery Art) with the goal of teaching midwives the true sense of the midwifery model of care, giving them a high competence in physiology and salutogenesis and promoting a new birth culture.
In 2000 Verena won the prestigious Astrid Limburg award for midwifery achievement and excellence. She has taught in hospitals all over Italy, in several European countries and in her school since 1988 and is teaching now on an international level. She developed a new paradigm of maternity care: Salutophysiology, based on health, resources and a global approach to women. Since 2011 she has been teaching this model of care in a master class at the University of Salzburg, Austria, and in 2015 at the University of Concepcion in Chile. She is an international teacher in English, German and Italian languages. She has authored or co-authored several books, and is an activist in political promotion of natural birth and midwifery.
Valerie Barchiesi is an Independent midwife who has been involved in homebirth for over thirty years. At her center, Il Nido www.associazioneilnido.it she holds prenatal classes in English as well as other English-speaking activities such as post-natal groups and prenatal and motherbaby yoga. She is a founding member of the Italian Homebirth Midwives’ Network. She has done a lot of teaching through apprenticeship both officially to midwifery university students and to young midwives seeking hands-on experience with continuity-of-care. She tells us that she is working on setting up a birth center “in the hope of passing on something useful to the next generation.”
Brett Iimura has lived in Tokyo, Japan, since 1993. She is American, married to a Japanese, with two children homebirthed in Tokyo. She has been teaching childbirth classes and counseling women and their partners in English and Japanese on caregiver choices, birth, breastfeeding, childrearing and bilingualism since 1996, having also established Childbirth Education Center (CEC) in 1997. She is in the midst of compiling data from the more than 1600 couples from over 70 countries who have taken classes with CEC to date. Intimately connected to the birth community both personally and professionally, Brett keeps her finger on the pulse of birth issues in Japan through a network of midwives, doctors, allied health professionals, birthing women and birth activists throughout Japan. She can be found at www.birthinjapan.com and on the CEC Facebook page.
Japanese Midwives’ Association (JMA) English page: http://www.nurse.or.jp/jna/english/
Official Japanese version of the Listening to Mothers Survey in both English and Japanese; comparisons between the results from the two countries also included: https://sites.google.com/site/mothersvoicesjapan/home
Suzanne Dwaik is a culturally diverse, American-Jordanian citizen and mother of two, with a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing Science. She has contributed to the work of several humanitarian NGOs providing mental health, protection and medical services to Syrian refugees in both urban and camp settings. She has received training in MHGAP (mental health integration in primary health care), sexual gender-based violence with the UNHCR, reproductive health and Minimal Intervention Service Package (MISP) with the UNFPA. She has additional education in epidemics, behavioral medicine, and innovation in health care. Her aim is to pursue a Masters degree in Global Health Policy, to more effectively promote women empowerment and an integrated, evidence-based approach to health care. She is currently employed as a study nurse and research assistant at Doctors without Borders’ (MSF) Amman project.
Suzanne’s passion for midwifery began with her own childbearing experience, prompting her to investigate the global and local trends in maternity care. She shared her personal birth experience in an article for Midwifery Today, Issue 108.
Benson Williesham Milimo works with Moi University, Kenya, training midwives at undergraduate and at masters level as master of science in maternal and neonatal health nursing. Benson is involved in training of undergradute students in midwifery and is working on a master’s degree in maternal and neonatal health. Benson is interested in the sharing of evidence-based practice in midwifery and tells us, “Currently I am doing a qualitative study on the perspectives of women on the meaning of quality care during child birth. Anyone with information on this area can share with me. I would also want to see more of natural childbirth and less of medicalization of childbirth especially in my country. In Kenya, we have a single training that combines nursing, midwifery and community health nursing. Hence all nurses are midwives and vice versa. However last year, one college was established to train midwives at diploma level. I believe that is the starting point of identifying midwifery as a different profession from nursing.”
As for a envision the future of birth and midwifery: “I wish to see a future where mothers will always say, ‘Yes, it was a nice experience’ when refering to childbirth process.”
Zuzana M. Nadova has been a midwife since 2000. She graduated in 2000 in the Slovak Republic then worked as a midwife for a year. She moved with her husband to Kuwait, where she has been living since. Zuzana was not allowed to practice in Kuwait because local authorities don’t recognize midwifery as valid specialization. However, Zuzana tells us: “I have stayed involved with my midwifery projects. It is my personal mission to establish midwifery as a new branch of health care system in the State of Kuwait.” She is promoting gentle birth in Kuwait using social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter. She is married and is the mother of Abdulrahman and Sara. She speaks English, Slovak and Arabic.
Rudite Bruvere started the first independent midwifery practice in Latvia, offering pregnancy care and breastfeeding support, as well as attending homebirths. She served for 12 years on the board of the Association of Midwives of Latvia, working on the politics of and for the profession. In 2003 she co-founded The Family Cradle, a non-profit organization that includes a maternity center and a training for midwives. Seminars are offered for midwives interested in learning safe out-of-hospital birth and other midwifery skills.
Joni Nichols is a Childbirth Educator, Doula, Labor Assistant, Activist, Photographer, Partera and the owner of one of the biggest and heaviest birth bags around! A few things are immutable in Joni’s daily life—exercise, chocolate and doing something related to birth. It might be a couple of hours on the Internet, a private childbirth class, a phone inquiry, catching up on sleep after one of the 40 births she attends per year, or a planning session with the other members of “Plenitud; pregnancy, birth and lactation” the multi-faceted childbirth group she helped establish. If not, she is working on a presentation for one of the many international conferences she attends, promoting midwifery in the schools, replying to e-mails she receives as the ICAN representative in Guadalajara, or inviting people for a tour of the intimate water birth center that Plenitud has created in the Hospital Valle de Atemajac. Proud to be a “people connector,” Joni works to help folks make contact with caregivers who practice the midwifery-based model within Mexico.
To contact Joni Nichols, please visit her website, Plenitud.
Jita Baral and Laxmi Tamang
Jita Baral is a midwife as well as a midwifery clinical instructor in Nepal since 2005. She has completed her Bachelor in Nursing in Midwifery. She is the Birth Center coordinator at the Model Health Care Hospital in Pokhara. She says she hopes to promote midwifery practices to reduce the maternal and the neonatal mortality rate of Nepal, which is the highest in Asia.
Laxmi Tamang has a Bachelor of Nursing from Nepal and a Master of Public Health from the University of New South Wales in Australia. She has extensive experience working in different settings, with diverse communities, in hospitals, national and international developmental agencies and educational institutions since 1995.
Laxmi is committed to promote independent midwifery practice in Nepal to encourage natural, holistic and low intervention care for women wherever possible, while being vigilant in recognizing risks and acting promptly and responsibly to achieve safety and well-being to both mother and baby. Her goals are to work toward raising the standards of nursing and midwifery education in Nepal and to work persistently for safe motherhood and women’s empowerment. She helped to establish first and only independent nurse-midwives-led birthing centre in Nepal. Organizations she is a member of: Aadharbhut Prasuti Sewa Kendra (Founder, Managing Director) and Nepal Family Health Centre (Founding member).
Thea van Tuyl and Izdihar Blank
Thea van Tuyl is a prenatal teacher in the Netherlands (her course is called “Samen Bevallen”). She was also a childbirth educator trainer for nearly 20 years. Since 2000 she has been a member of European Network of Childbirth Associations (ENCA), a European network that works for improvement of the care of mother and baby. She is secretary of the Dutch department of ENCA. She took part in the start of the Education for Doulas in Utrecht and became a doula trainer. During her visits to Midwifery Today conferences in Europe she learned the use of the rebozo from Naolí Vinaver and Angelina Martinez Miranda from Mexico. Together with Mirjam de Keijzer she started to organize workshops about rebozo massage in 2007. Thea and Mirjam wrote the workbook The Rebozo Technique Unfolded with involvement from Naolí Vinaver, who inspired their writing of the book. Thea is married, has two daughters and lives in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. www.theavantuyl.nl (Dutch)
Izdihar Blank is a midwife; her mother language is Arabic.
Lorna Davies, RM, PGCEA, MA, is a UK qualified midwife who has worked in midwifery education for the last thirteen years. Her particular interests lie in examination of the newborn, parent education, breastfeeding, birth art, normal birth and e-Learning. She is also co-director of www.withwoman.co.uk.
She has published numerous articles in midwifery journals, has contributed chapters to several midwifery textbooks. She recently edited The Art and Soul of Midwifery and Examination of the Newborn and Neonatal Health: A Multidimensional Approach.
She is married with three children and is currently a Senior Lecturer in Midwifery at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology in New Zealand. She also carries a small caseload as a self-employed midwife and is a childbirth educator.
Amaka R. Elochukwu
Amaka R. Elochukwu has practiced as a registered midwife in Nigeria since 2013. She is also a registered nurse, registered public health nurse, sexual and reproductive health specialist, and family planning services provider. Her passion for midwifery is to save the lives of the mother and child, as Nigeria has a high maternal and child/infant mortality ratio. She is encouraged to see a slight reduction in the rate of maternal death recently in the area in which she practices. She likes working in rural areas and areas short of qualified health care practitioners assisting with childbirth. She is also a writer, a researcher, and has an interest in cosmetics and fashion as well as animation movies.
Tine Greve received her midwifery education in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1991 and has been an IBCLC since 2000. She has been working in an alternative birth-care (ABC) unit in Oslo, Norway since 1997. Tine also started the first breastfeeding-counselling clinic in Norway in 2000. She has recently been working part-time at the National Breastfeeding Center in Oslo.
Tine’s three children are all born in ABC units; the two youngest are waterbabies.
Imtiaz Kamal, known as Pakistan’s grandmother of midwifery, directs her efforts to promoting the midwifery profession in Pakistan. Imtiaz has worked with WHO as a midwife consultant, developing midwifery curriculum, training midwives and midwifery teachers and developing teaching and learning materials for the study of midwifery. She is also secretary general of the National Committee for Maternal Health (NCMH), vice president of the Maternity and Child Welfare Association of Pakistan (MCWAP) and president of MCWAP’s Sindh Chapter.
Imtiaz has worked as a midwife in Pakistan for 50 years and says that she has lead a one-woman crusade for the promotion of midwifery as a modality separate from nursing, which is only now beginning to show fruit. Currently she is working to develop regulatory mechanisms for the practice of midwifery in Pakistan as none have existed to date. She is also working on the development of a curriculum for domiciliary midwives. Imtiaz received her midwifery training in the UK and pursued a master’s degree from Columbia University in New York. She has worked in more than 50 countries through various UN organizations in the field of maternal and child health.
Papua New Guinea
Lillian Siwi, with the help of a WHO representative and some midwife friends, is trying to start a midwifery association in her country, and would be appreciative of any assistance.
Cynthia Ingar is a Peruvian anthropologist (PhD), doula, women’s health educator, and mother of Maël. She is dedicated to the teaching and protection of ancestral Woman Medicine and traditions. She has applied her research work on reproductive health in different Andean contexts and in the city of Lima through her work in reproductive health programs. She is dedicated to Hampi Warmi, a Peruvian-based non-profit aimed to bring Woman Medicine back to women and girls worldwide throughout all the Cycles of Life. The main project, KillaWarmi Project, is a reproductive health intercultural project designed to empower Andean women and girls through woman-centered knowledge, the strengthening of Andean traditional midwifery and the Remembering of Andean feminine wisdom and spirituality. Cynthia provides menstrual health and sexual education to girls and menarque rites of passage ceremonies. She also teaches international women’s workshops and retreats in South and North America centered in the reconnection with Woman Medicine through our bodies and female cycles, and the re-connection with Pachamama. She collaborates with music and the Drum to deepen the ritual aspect of her work with women. She is committed to the Remembering of our Ancestors’ Wisdom and of the Rainbow Prophecy of Condor and Eagle coming together again.
She has written articles for Midwifery Today, including Midwifery and Women’s Health in Peru: Visions and Dreams from Midwifery Today, Issue 97.
Cecilia Santos is Consultant for Health Concerns, Philippines Department of the Interior and Local Government. The position is the intermediary between the Department of Health and associations of nurses and midwives. She pioneered the national Midwifery Agenda, which led to the creation and institutionalization of the Philippine League of Government Midwives, Inc., currently the largest body of professional midwives in the country with chapters nationwide and with a local chapter among the professional midwives working in Hong Kong. She played a key role in passage of the Midwifery Act of 1992.
Cecilia previously served as Assistant Secretary, Department of Health; Member of the Board of Midwifery; Population Program Manager in the San Juan office; and was the founder of the Philippine League of Government Midwives. She has Masters in Public Health and Government Management, a BS in Business Administration and is a 1975 graduate of the Midwifery course at Ortañez University.
Debbie Díaz Ortiz, CPM, MPH, began her midwifery career as an apprentice to Rully Delgado, a Puerto Rican traditional midwife, in 1986. Today they are colleagues. In 1992 she went to Maternidad La Luz, and from 1993 on worked as a primary caregiver at homebirths in Puerto Rico. She also has worked with traditional midwives in Uganda, El Salvador and Guatemala, and she is coordinator of The Latin American and Caribbean Network for the Humanization of Childbirth (relacahupan).
Vania Limban is an independent midwife and a spokesperson for the Romanian Midwives Association. She is very involved in the de-medicalisation of birth. Her areas of interest include childbirth education, pregnancy massage and teaching. She has been a practicing midwife since 1980.
Katerina Perkhova and Veronika Nazarova
Katerina Perkhova, editor in chief Domashniy Rebenok (Home Child) magazine, journalist, photographer and mother of two homebirthed children. Katerina and her husband, Philip Perkhov, the magazine’s publisher and art director, say they first envisioned their magazine after their second child, Masha, was born at home, surrounded by a close group of loved ones. Their first son, Michael, had already introduced them to the worlds of “natural parenting” and “attachment parenting.” Katerina explains that, in the Soviet Union, information about natural parenting had been closed, like secret knowledge. Today, there is more than enough information available about natural childbirth, breastfeeding, using a sling, natural medicine, natural health, alternative education and a healthy lifestyle. With Home Child magazine, they hope to make these resources more easily accessible and to help parents separate fact from opinion, and scientific evidence from mythmaking.
Midwifery Today and Home Child magazine organized a joint conference in Russia in 2010. More information: www.midwiferytoday.ru
Katerina and Philip are planning to publish Midwifery Today magazine in the Russian language. For subscription information: domrebenok.ru/podpiska-midwifery-today.html
Veronika Nazarova is a family doctor and homeopath who has been practicing homebirth midwifery for 15 years. Her greatest life passion is gentle, undisturbed births. Veronika is convinced that knowledge and information give women and families strength to make their own choices. She works at Russia’s first Center for Traditional Midwifery (www.center-akusherstva.ru), founded by her friend and fellow midwife, Tamara Sadovaya.
Besides being doctor and midwife, she enjoys teaching other midwives, doctors and parents about normal physiology, natural ways of giving birth and living. For that she participates in Midwifery Today conferences, reads books, journal articles and Web sites in different languages and shares this knowledge with parents and colleagues. She has translated several homeopathic books from English into Russian. Together with her colleagues from the Wonderful Child Parents’ Center, Veronika developed the first Russian-language Web site on midwifery called Akusherstvo Segodnya at www.midwifery.ru. She is always happy to help parents and childbirth practioners make contact and find each other all over the world!
Aisha Alhajjar is an American midwife (BSM and CPM) married to a Saudi. She began assessing and stimulating the birth culture in Saudi Arabia since her arrival in the country in 2010. She has created an Islamic childbirth education and doula program, AMANI Birth, and has trained numerous childbirth teachers and doulas with materials available in English and Arabic (as well as Indonesian and German) who work in the local communities.
The current midwifery model in Saudi Arabia is more of a hospital obstetric nursing role than it is midwifery; however, she has organized conferences and rallied leaders and champions of autonomous midwifery practice and is a founding board member of the newly formed Saudi Midwifery Group (SMG). SMG is working with the Ministry of Health, which has recently created a Midwifery Task Force (MTF) with recognition that Saudi Arabia would be best served by a midwifery-led birthing culture with need to cultivate 10,000+ midwives over the next five to ten years. With this in mind, teams are in place to develop a national bachelor of science in midwifery (BSM) program using International Confederation of Midwives’ (ICM) standards. There is a lot of work to be done for midwifery and birthing in Saudi Arabia and we are pleased at the visionary steps and support being shown today in concordance with Saudi Arabia’s recent announcement of the Saudi Vision 2030.
Iveta Jancigova is a Slovak mother, currently a PhD student in applied informatics in Zilina, Slovakia. Her two children were born in United States where she lived for 6 years. After the first experience with US hospital birth she decided to have her second child at home with the assistance of certified professional midwives. The difference was striking and it later inspired her to get involved in changing birth practices in Slovakia. She is a member of the Slovak movement, “Women’s circles”, consisting mainly of mothers who want to change common birth practices in this country.
Iveta tells Midwifery Today: “My goal as a country contact is to help Slovak midwives to connect with midwives from othercountries and get inspired to bring change to Slovakia. For Slovak midwives, English language is a problem. Therefore I want to serve them as a translator and a point of contact and encourage them to attend international conferences and to make personal contacts abroad.” Iveta’s languages include Slovak, Czech and English.
Ana Polona Mivsek, Ana Pavec, Zalka Drglin, and Willma Andreja Kolenc
Zalka Drglin, PhD in women’s studies and feminist theory, is a researcher at the Institute of Public Health of Republic of Slovenia, consultant for perinatal mental health problems, leader of the programs in the Natural Beginnings Society (see below), country representative for IMBCO, and external teacher at the Midwifery department at Health Faculty in Ljubljana.
Zalka translated Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth and Marsden Wagner’s Creating Your Birth Plan into the Slovene language. She is dedicated to reconsideration of the essence of the very core of motherhood: of childbirth in the symbiosis of nature and culture; about the confluence of his/her-story and vision, traditional wisdom and modern science; about the actual need for integration of (bodily) skills of women and midwives, concise thinking and ethic towards excellent holistic maternity care worldwide.
Ana Pavec is a professional translator, mother of four children, a DONA certified birth doula and an LLL Leader. She is an activist for human rights in childbirth and author of the Web site S TEBOJ SEM (“I am with you”). She organizes childbirth education classes, supports families in pregnancy, birth and postpartum, and coaches mothers in assertiveness skills through webinars and one-on-one sessions. She is a contact person for her country in the European Doula Network. She speaks English, German and Slovene.
Ana Polona Mivsek has practised midwifery for five years, the first two in the delivery room, and currently as the head of midwifery department at the college of health studies. Polona does practical training with students in the delivery room.
Willma Andreja Kolenc studied physics and worked in marketing, design and other occasional jobs. While preparing for her second birth, she fell in love with birth. Ever since then she has dedicated her efforts to improve birth experiences for mothers/families in Slovenia and around the world. She is a birth activist, international birth conference organizer, prenatal parental class educator, doula and aspiring midwife. She is president of Birth House, an association that offers support, information and help prenatally, at birth and postnatally), and the founder of international home birth day: 6 June. She is an independent breastfeeding consultant and author of a Slovene breastfeeding book. Willma is a mother of four
Ruth Ehrhardt, Robyn Sheldon, Marianne Littlejohn, and Haaritha Binkowski
Ruth Ehrhardt is a CPM (NARM), a doula (WOMBS—ZA) / Paramanadoula—UK), and a Helping Babies Breathe facilitator and trainer. She lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa with Marianne Littlejohn of Birthrite Midwifery. With colleague Lana Petersen, she started Home Birth South Africa in 2010, a web data base for those seeking information and advice on homebirth in South Africa. Together, they also run the Cape Town Home Birth Gatherings, a quarterly gathering for those seeking information and support on home birth in Cape Town and surrounds. She is part of the team that organises The Cape Town Midwifery and Birth Conference, which is aimed at sharing and collaboration between South African birth professionals and the women they serve for the purpose of promoting and supporting safe pregnancies and births. Ruth is the author of The Basic Needs of a Woman in Labour, a book based on the work of Dr. Michel Odent and which explores the hormone oxytocin and the environmental factors that effect it.
Robyn Sheldon, author of The Mama Bamba Way—The Power and Pleasure of Natural Childbirth, has more than 20 years experience pioneering more empowered birthing techniques and training midwives, birth facilitators and midwives. She studied direct entry midwifery in Oregon, USA. She is a CPM with NARM, and practices in Cape Town. Robyn believes that nourishing women emotionally and spiritually affects their birth process and facilitates an easier transition into the world for their babies.
Marianne Littlejohn has been a practicing homebirth midwife since 1982 and has attended more than 1500 births. Waterbirth, hypnobirth, hospitalbirth, twin births, breech birth and vaginal birth after one or more caesarians describe the range of her experience. She was a research assistant for Dr. Nils Bergman’s Kangaroo Mother Care research and is a published co-author of KMC research in the Infant Mental Health Journal. Marianne is a NARM preceptor and midwifery educator to local pilot project students, as well as a Helping Babies Breathe Trainer. She presents spiritualbirth education workshops for parents-to-be and training seminars for midwives, doulas and anyone who works with women.
Marianne tells Midwifery Today: “My hope is to bridge the gap in Africa between western medicine and a primal knowledge of birth that is fast becoming forgotten. I never want to cease learning from my clients, staying humble and passing on midwifery skills that are women-centred and compassionate and well as wise.” Learn more about Marianne at spiritualbirth.net.
Haaritha Binkowski tells Midwifery Today, “I am a midwife born and bred,” and she has personally had a homebirth. She has been teaching advanced practice midwifery in South Africa for 12 years and has published in the field. Projects she is currently involved in include research projects on women’s perceptions of long-acting contraceptives, and non-pharmacological, non-pharmaceutical management of postpartum hemorrhage, as well as a community project concerning child survivors of sexual violence.
Haaritha’s goal for international midwifery is to decrease the silos of practice—to have a space where midwives are respected, appropriately remunerated, and have their practices legitimized across countries. Her vision of the future of birth and midwifery is of an empowering space to birth without fear—for women and their midwives.
Sunday Taabu is planning a Midwifery Pilot Project to train 42 women: 3 women from each of the 10 states and 4 regions of Abyei, Blue Nile, S. Kordofan (Nuba Mountain) and Darfur. The goal is to train them as trainers who will train others in their regions. Her long-term goal is to establish a health care institution to train more women in health care, to do whatever is possible to relieve the suffering of women in South Sudan and the Sudan.
In August 2008, Sunday was among the Diaspora delegation that went to Southern Sudan to address several issues affecting women in Southern Sudan, including health care. The infant mortality rate in this region is alarming. UNICEF’s Southern Sudan regional representative report that “1 out of ten” women die during child birth inspired Sunday to do something about the situation even though she is not trained in the field.
Sunday tells Midwifery Today: “Although I have no experience in the process of birth, God has given me the heart to care about it as an advocate for reproductive health. As a young girl, I witnessed my own women relatives (wives of my uncles and sisters of mother and father, etc.) die when giving birth. Either the mother dies, the baby dies, or both. This still is the story in South Sudan. My auntie Yunnis Yawa was a trained midwife with no nursing degree who helped saved many lives at the time.”
Sunday currently works at Guilford County Department of Social Services in Greensboro, North Carolina. Previously she worked for the Government of South Sudan Mission to the United States in Washington, DC, as a diplomat. She speaks English, Bari and Juba Arabic.
Helena Lindgren is a midwife who has assisted home deliveries since 1996. She is currently researching planned home births as PhD student.
Demetria Clark is the Global Director of Birth Arts International (www.birtharts.com), Heart of Herbs Herbal School (www.heartofherbs.com) and a midwife assistant and doula living and working in Basel, Switzerland, and the tri-country region of Switzerland, Germany and France.
Estibar Bashoosh studied at Damascus University, Nursing and Midwifery School for five years, graduating in 2016. She then joined University Hospital Obstetrics to continue with midwifery, where—despite a lack of medical support—she and her colleagues fought for their dream and managed to achieve a good number of births.
Estibar thinks that only studying midwifery is not enough, that there is a need for workshops and conferences such as those provided by Midwifery Today to further the care and training midwives need to practice in childbirth professionally.
Estibar tells us, “Sadly, war has had severe effects on our hospitals, equipment and experiences, I hope we will recover with the help of networking with others in the global midwifery community. I look forward to elevating my experience and the level of proficiency of midwives in Syria and all the third world countries.”
Su-Chen Kuo teaches in the Graduate Institute of Nurse-Midwifery, National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences in Taipei. Although she is not currently a practicing midwife, she spends a lot of time on the promotion of breastfeeding. As part of that, she conducted a project training volunteers to support breastfeeding mothers in the community.
Debrah Lewis a founding member of the Trinidad & Tobago Association of Midwives. She is Midwife/Director of the Mamatoto Resource & Birth Centre, where they started doing births in 2008, including waterbirths. Her goal for international midwifery: “To see a network in my region—the Caribbean—and ultimately the world.”
Elizabeth Soubelet and Esra Çömezoğlu
Elizabeth Soubelet says: “There is a lot of work to be done here as we have the same problem as Brazil: nearly 100% of middle-class women have cesareans! It is impossible to have a VBAC and there are no birth centers or independent midwives in the cities (the countryside is another story, of course). The positive news is that almost everybody breastfeeds for a few months at least and most doctors are well informed about the subject.”
Esra Çömezoğlu was born in 1981 in Balikesir, Turkey. She completed her primary education in Tokat and Balikesir. In 1999 she attended Balikesir Zühtü Özkardaslar high school, majoring in English. She graduated from the Edirne Healty Upper School of Midwifery at Trakya University in 2003 and received a master’s degree from Marmara University in 2007. Her thesis was entitled “Analysis of the Factors Affecting Midwives’ Job Satisfaction.” Esra worked at Private Bilim Üniversity Avrupa Florence Nightingale Hospital in the delivery room as a midwife from 2004 to 2007. She has been a member of the executive board of the Midwives Association since 2006. She currently works for the association and as an independent midwife.
Edwidge Kezaabu and Violet Kengyeya
Edwidge Kezaabu, completed her Masters in Public Health in 2012, with a Post Graduate Certificate in Project Monitoring and Evaluation, BA Community Development, Diplomas in Midwifery and Nursing, as well as a Post Graduate Certificate in Research Methodology. She is involved also in counselling in reproductive health-related issues, community outreach and home-based care programmes that address maternal and child health. Edwidge has been involved with birth as a midwife, as a trainer of trainers, as a clinical instructor, and as a mother. Her goals for international midwifery are to gain knowledge and share experience and contribute to safe birth and reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. She would like to network with other members to share experiences and research findings. Edwidge tells us, “I love my career and would like to save as many women as possible from complications of pregnancy, labour and puerperium.”
Violet Kengyeya is a private midwife since the 1970s who is offering free antenatal checkups to needy mothers in Kampala. She also offers deliveries and care of the child after birth and other services. Violet tells us, “Childbirth and midwifery here is doing a little well but with a lot of challanges; that is why we would love to work with you to see that we get some kind of partnership and more training here.” She seeks to help educate her community.
Leila Mostofi is a Bachelor of Specialized Midwifery and works in Alwasl Hospital, the biggest maternity governmental hospital in UAE which is specialized only for maternity and pediatrics. Leila works in the labour suite as one of only four specialized midwives. She plans to expand breastfeeding awareness in hospital. Leila speaks English, Arabic and Farsi.
Anne Sokol and Svetlana Demianova-Ponomarenko
Anne Sokol, an American missionary/teacher, lives in Ukraine with her husband, Vitaliy, who is Ukrainian. Anne reports that birthing practices in Ukraine are starting to change and more and more people are becoming interested in midwifery and homebirth. Anne is very interested in childbirth and maternity issues and welcomes contact by others interested in strengthening the network in Ukraine. View more about Anne here: www.birthinukraine.wordpress.com
Svetlana Demianova-Ponomarenko is a mother of two (one water homebirth), a PhD student, an activist for the rediscovery and protection of human needs in childbirth, an organiser of Miracle in the Heart social project (since 2014), a publicist, and an educator. She currently serves as the International Affairs Director for Miracle in the Heart project. To learn more, please visit en.proestro.com. Svetlana tells us: “I’ve been involved with birth after becoming a mother. The topic of birth concerned me the most when I started to have problems with the state registration of my second baby born at home in 2013.” Svetlana has written for Midwifery Today magazine, including the article, “Increasing Networks on Five Continents.”
Verona Hall, Leah Hazard, and Lina Duncan
Verona Hall has been a midwife since 1996 and has had an independent midwifery practice since 2002. She is also a nurse and became a certified lactation consultant in 2005. Verona teaches preparation for birth and workshops on breastfeeding, homebirth, first aid and resuscitation. She devised a training manual for midwifery assistants and in 1997 received the Bounty Midwives Professional Development Award. Her goal in work is using research-based information and her extensive knowledge to help clients and other midwives, thereby raising standards. She may be contacted through her website: www.veronahall.co.uk
Leah Hazard grew up in the United States and graduated from Harvard University before moving to the United Kingdom to pursue a career in journalism and the arts. The birth of her first daughter in 2003 inspired Leah to retrain as a doula, providing birth support to families in homes and hospitals across Central Scotland. In 2006, Leah experienced the joyful birth of her second daughter at home. Since then, she has written articles on birth and parenting for a number of national and international publications, including Midwifery Today, Midwifery Matters, Birth and Beyond, and The Mother magazine. She is also the author of The Father’s Home Birth Handbook (published by Pinter & Martin 2011). Leah lives in Glasgow and is now a student midwife at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Amy Nacht and Jo Anne Lindberg
Amy Nacht is a certified nurse-midwife (CNM), who speaks Spanish as well as English. She has worked in homes, birth centers, and in hospitals, first as a direct entry midwife and now a CNM. She has taught childbirth education and prenatal and postnatal yoga. Amy is currently involved with raising her two young children and working as a CNM as clinical faculty in the University of Colorado. Amy tells us, “I hope to see the rate of maternal death decline. I hope to see the rate of midwifery education increase worldwide and to see the rate of conferences/meetings/alliances increase to allow all of women’s health practitioners worldwide to learn from each other. My goal is to aid in the process of creating a profession that continues to nurture families while nurturing itself. A healthy profession can reach farther and do more to support gentle and healthy births for mother and child.”
Jo Anne Lindberg has been advocating for midwifery since she had her children at home. After that wonderful experience she became a birth advocate and founded BirthLink.com in 1996. BirthLink is a resource for parents and practitioners who believe that the midwifery model is the best way to give birth. Jo Anne offers birth options consultations to parents who want to make informed decisions for healthier, happier births. Jo Anne tells us that her private practice in Asian medicine, in the form of shiatsu bodywork, “informs my birth work by honoring the cycles of all life. I’m interested in connecting with anyone who wants to know more about birth in the midwestern US. We stand for undisturbed birth, immediate bonding, long term breastfeeding, and engaged conscious parenting.”
Fernando Molina is a family physician, male midwife and prenatal educator from Venezuela. He now lives in Eugene, Oregon, where he works as a Traditional Midwife with Eugene’s renowned midwife Anita Rojas, doing exclusively homebirths. He also teaches “Magical Beginnings,” a comprehensive prenatal course designed to embrace the soul, mind and body for a happy pregnancy and birth, where mom, dad and baby are the protagonists. This course is now updated and available online.
Fernando dedicates much time for research on the latest information in epigenetics, the microbiome, mother-baby-provider communication during pregnancy and birth, and the neural wiring of the limbic brain of baby in utero and its repercussions in the personality, health and emotional intelligence of the human being.
Fernando also works as a Health Professional for Hooper Holmes Health and Wellness. He is a natural birth advocate who loves to teach at Midwifery Today Conferences and to work with other midwives and doulas.