Honoring Birth Visionaries

Midwifery Today, Issue 134, Summer 2020.
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What are our politics? There is so much division in the US and the world right now. I believe we should get behind our politics—that is, the politics of midwifery and birth. Let’s put our energy into what really matters to us—birth. We want to make sure, as much as we are able, to help every motherbaby have the best birth possible. There are so many ways to do that: midwifery, being a doula, working abroad, and educating both parents and practitioners.

Have your dreams and carry them out. Collaborate with others in their pursuits. Help others in their efforts to carry out their dreams; dream with them. Be supportive and encouraging to others in their pursuits. Offer help.

As I look around the world, I see so many great birth works going on. My friend Carol Gautschi notes that we need more honoring of other people—midwives and everyone else. One of the definitions of honor that I like is, “great respect and admiration.” I honor many in the birth community, but I would especially like to highlight a few here.

We have formed an exciting partnership with our friend and one of the best teachers we have ever had at our conferences, Naolí Vinaver. Naolí’s style of teaching imparts a tremendous amount of information, woven with the most delightful stories. She is now offering classes by video, which you can livestream or watch at your convenience. She has an amazing array of interesting subjects she speaks on. One that really intrigues me is Natural Ultrasound. I know there are very real dangers of ultrasound, and providing that information and more is a great idea.

Naolí has an interesting approach that she draws from her knowledge of midwifery, from both the academic world and she learned from traditional midwife sisters in Mexico. To that she adds her vast experience in doing homebirths. Because she is very insightful and observant, the lessons she has learned run deep and she imparts them beautifully. 

Another dreamer and doer I especially admire is Elizabeth Davis. She has tirelessly worked to help the world make more and better midwives. Her education program is excellent. Her mentorship and care of her students is surpassed by no one. She works hard to design and revamp her classes to meet the needs of students and the current times we work in (she is currently offering virtual classes). We have also been so blessed by her teaching and writing for Midwifery Today for over three decades.

Elizabeth’s books have added to our core midwifery knowledge. I remember when the first edition of Heart and Hands came out. My partner and I had a lovely homebirth practice and kept several copies in our lending library. She said the same things in her book that we told our clients. Her information was spot on. I thought if every client would read it, we might not have to talk much! I am amazed that she was able to put this book together so early in our movement. She has updated it many times to keep up with developing information. It is now in its 2019, newly updated 5th edition.

Elizabeth’s political work over the years has helped make midwifery in California and, indeed, in the whole nation, become accepted and even thrive. She worked on the early midwifery bills in California, helped establish MANA (Midwives Alliance of North America), and spearheaded the development of the CPM at a grassroots level—a joint process involving input from almost every state midwifery association.

Debra Pascali-Bonaro is another visionary in the birth world. She has done an extraordinary amount of work for doulas, training hundreds all over the world. She has also added a lot to the body of birth knowledge with classes she has taught, such as Comfort Measures. Her classes are chocked full of excellent techniques for birth. Midwifery Today has been privileged to have her speak for us at many conferences. She also has been teaching classes on Business for Birth Practitioners. I have learned so much from attending her classes.

She also does an interesting course called Eat, Pray, Doula. She teaches classes in Bali, Indonesia, with Robin Lim, another birth visionary/midwife, helper in global emergencies such as the 2004 tsunami. Debra is a warm and amazing person who has changed the world of birth for the better, as are Naolí and Elizabeth. 

I consider it a blessing that I have gotten to be on this planet with these lovely people who have changed the world of birth with their visions and dreams. These times, though difficult in so many ways, are a time in herstory where the deep meanings of childbirth and midwifery have been brought to the fore by them and by you.  I hope you are carrying out your dreams, as well. Together we can make optimal birth for every woman the norm. Let’s support and care for each other in our callings. 

Toward Better Birth,

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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