My 37-Year Midwifery Today Voyage

Midwifery Today, Issue 147, Autumn 2023.
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I am humbled by this life God gave me to lead Midwifery Today. I have had the privilege of traveling to and putting on conferences in 20 different countries—attending, planning, and carrying out 86 conferences. I have also had the honor of planning, writing for, and helping produce 147 magazines, with a fantastic staff and excellent writers. It has been a long and winding road through efforts to change midwifery and birth. I am humbled by the joy, mostly, of getting to be the mother of Midwifery Today.

One of my favorite parts of all of this is bringing to and sharing with midwives in various countries great birth techniques. Here you see a photo of Naolí Vinaver teaching rebozo in Jamaica. Angelina Martinez Miranda has also taught these effective techniques all over the world at our various conferences. It is such a good feeling to know that these women have brought Mexican techniques to so many parts of the world. I remember Naolí teaching it in China, Russia, and so many other places.

I recently have been going through old photos that we have had from the beginning of Midwifery Today. What a trip down memory lane! I found photos of Marsden Wagner, Ina May Gaskin, and Michel Odent. All of us were a lot younger then. It has been a wonderful journey. Another thing I like about going through these old photos is seeing and remembering occasions I had completely forgotten about.

Join me on this trip down memory lane:

My sister Lo (Lora Jean LaPorte) and me preparing for one of the many conferences we coordinated together. The other special detail about Midwifery Today is that all my three children have been involved, doing various jobs.

A younger Jan Tritten working on editorial.

This is Penny Simkin showing techniques in China at our Tricks of the Trade circle. Tricks of the Trade has been a feature in every magazine and at every conference. I believe a tip today can save a life tomorrow. This has always been one of our most popular features both in the magazine and at conferences. It illustrates my desire and goal of exchanging important techniques and information in various countries of the world. In that, we have been very successful.

Marsden Wagner and me speaking at a conference with Ina May Gaskin in the background. One of the best things about carrying out the mission of Midwifery Today has been the amazingly gifted and wise people I have gotten to meet. Just as an important part of midwifery is relationship, so it has been for me in this work. I have made friends from all over the world and feel so blessed. I have fond memories of my work at Midwifery Today.

The Liberty Bell represents the need for freedom both in our lives and in midwifery and birth. It is a perfect symbol. We did several conferences in the Philadelphia area.

This is of my friends, Venus Mark, on the left and her daughter Lisa. Venus is an amazing midwife in Trinidad. Venus and her midwives did the births at her birth center and Lisa did the needed cesareans. Lisa is an obstetrician who tired of New York City medical politics and moved back to her home island. Their cesarean rate at that time was about 8%—lower than what the World Health Organization deems necessary.

Conferences have always had elements of fun incorporated in them. We often had a cabaret or a play or a singing session or all the above. This is Marta Orbis, Naolí Vinaver, Elena Piantino, and Robbie Davis Floyd singing at one of them.

Here is our dearest Michel Odent and Sara Wickham singing at another one. Michel always promoted singing both for pregnant women and for midwives.

Here is a much younger Michel and Jan at a conference.

Here Michel and I are in China.

Lara Fairy Love Stockbridge fire-eating at one of our many European conferences. She always does a great fire-eating show for us. This year she is putting on Physiological Birth: The Musical. She always invites everyone to join in. She also blows bubbles for us and generally entertains us, as well as teaching this year. She is the author of The Princess and the Poo.

This is Verena Schmidt teaching massage for restarting labor if it has stalled or needs a gentle boost.

This is Verena and me with a Mexican doula at the Teotihuacan ruins just outside Mexico City. We were able to put on a conference in Oaxaca. Elizabeth Davis told me it was the most moving conference she had ever been to. One of our colleagues had organized a traditional midwive’s conference for a few days before, at our venue, The Church of the Poor People. Many stayed over for our conference, which added so much interest and joy to what we were doing. Yes, it has been quite an important mission and I am so happy I was able to do it.

I also thank all of you: subscribers, readers, writers, speakers, and conference-goers. You have made Midwifery Today. I have always said, “Midwifery Today is by the midwives and for the midwives,” which includes birth practitioners and moms. It has been an incredible experience to be the mother of Midwifery Today for all these decades. Your love and support have kept it going. I hope you will give the same care to Shannon Mitchell who will be the new mother of Midwifery Today starting this November 2023.

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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