Birth Change

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Midwifery Today, Issue 84, Winter 2007.
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“Birth Change” is one of my favorite themes because it suggests hope in a world gone mad around the subject of birth. By birth I mean the childbearing two years. Through Midwifery Today I have been working on this issue for 20+ years, but in total I have been working on it for 31 years. This Sunday, Renee, my daughter who got me started on this path, turns 31. My beautiful homebirth with her, after a demeaning hospital birth, got me started in midwifery. I know that we who are called to this passionate work can turn the tide of birth around together.

I also like the subject of birth change because it offers optimism—which is really important because things look rather bleak in most parts of the world. Amazing islands of faith can be found all over the world though, as our ideas are passed around and people get inspired, dream and carry out those dreams. More of us are called, and our hard work is needed to turn the tide. Robbie Davis-Floyd teaches that 20% is critical mass—if we can reach that we will make it.

Working with Midwifery Today’s many activities is my life’s mission and my work. Publishing Midwifery Today and fine-tuning our Web site with the many layers of information for the whole world to read and benefit from are important in bringing about change. I feel just as called to this work as I did to my work as a homebirth midwife. As many of you know, when you are called to a mission you have an overwhelming passion to do it. I feel that fire in my belly to do this work, as I am sure you do. I thank you for that and I encourage you to keep going.

One of the most amazing parts of my work is planning and carrying out conferences. We have midwives and activists from many different countries joining us. All are interested in improving birth ways in their own country or somewhere else in the world. At conferences we all get to make new friends from all over our world and to do incredible networking. We make plans for so many different projects. We get to collaborate with like-minded people. Many new projects have their roots in the synergy of these amazing events. This is in addition to the great teachers and classes we enjoy. One project that has resurfaced as a result of the Norway conference is to hold a conference in Africa. This has been a dream for years. We are looking at Cape Town, South Africa, as the location.

Although we have published Midwifery Today books for years we now are taking a new direction—publishing books from other authors. Our new venture is called Motherbaby Press. We currently have three books nearly ready to go to the printer. The first, Placenta: The Gift of Life, is a translated and updated book about placenta rituals and the use of the placenta as medicine. It is by German waterbirth midwife Cornelia Enning. Harriette Hartigan is the author-photographer for another book, Brought to Earth by Birth. The book showcases Harriette’s stunning photography, which is accompanied by her brief, lyrical prose.

The other book is Survivor Moms: Women’s stories of birthing, mothering and healing after sexual abuse, by Mickey Sperlich, CPM, and Julia Seng, CNM. This book has launched Midwifery Today into a new, but connected, direction.

We are planning a conference on helping survivor moms, scheduled for May 7–10, 2008, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the authors live and have many contacts with practitioners who have experience helping these moms. We are able to tap many of them as speakers, along with Phyllis Klaus, who with Penny Simkin wrote the groundbreaking When Survivors Give Birth. Sadly, all birth practitioners need to know how to best help these mothers because sexual trauma is so widespread, affecting both women and men. We also are blessed because Harriette Hartigan lives in Ann Arbor and with her beautiful photos and uplifting words, can help us with the enormity of our work.

Our plan is to do two tracks of working with sexual abuse survivors and two tracks of regular midwifery subjects because four full days of survivor issues may be a lot for some people and because we all love to learn more about the practical side of midwifery as well.

Watch our Web site,, for upcoming plans and programs and also check on our homepage for ever-changing birth and midwifery information. If you do not subscribe to Midwifery Today E-News and IAM News (International Alliance of Midwives), be sure to do so, to keep informed about midwifery and birth issues.

I believe that the other most important thing you can do for mothers, babies, fathers and society is to keep walking forward in your calling. Changing our birth ways will take all of us doing what we are called to do. Carry out your work with the passion I know you have in you. Don’t get discouraged. Put encouraging people around you. The Internet now provides a fantastic way for us to stay connected and encourage each other. You are not alone and the world is counting on you to embrace your calling and continue to work for motherbaby.

Each one teach one.

About Author: Jan Tritten

Jan Tritten is the founder, editor, and mother of Midwifery Today magazine and conferences. Her love for and study of midwifery sprang from the beautiful homebirth of her second daughter—after a disappointing, medicalized first birth in the hospital. After giving birth at home, she kept studying birth books because, “she thought there was something more here.” She became a homebirth midwife in 1977 and continued helping moms who wanted a better birth experience. Jan started Midwifery Today in 1986 to spread the good word about midwifery care, using her experience to guide editorial and conferences. Her mission is to make loving midwifery care the norm for birthing women and their babies in the United States and around the world. Meet Jan at our conferences around the world!

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