The Journey of International Midwifery

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Midwifery Today, Issue 132, Winter 2019.
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Midwifery Today has been trying to influence birth for the better throughout the world since our first issue came out in 1987. It took us a long time from idea to publication: to get the first one done, we started a full year before. We had a column called Working Abroad in the first issue and then began to receive contributions from other countries. Henny Ligtermoet, from Australia, wrote “My Mother was an Elderly Primagravida.” She talked about how if she were born today (then 1987) the OB would put fear in her mother, but since she was born at home in 1921 that did not happen. International issues and ideas have been a great journey and I have enjoyed it immensely!

Our published words have influenced birth for the past 33 years in many countries. We have sought out voices from abroad and have always encouraged people from other countries to write about birth and midwifery in their country. So, please, if you have something to share, write it up and submit it now.

To share our passion for international midwifery, we began to solicit midwife contacts from many countries around the world. We now have contacts from 75 countries. This means that if you are interested in traveling to one of these countries, for example, we can get help from our country contacts for your trip. It makes a great network. Our country contacts answer questions about birth and midwifery in their home country so we can present that information to you, mostly in our e-newsletter, Midwifery Today E-News. We typically send out four issues of E-News a year that focus on international issues.We will continue to use longer articles for our new electronic magazine (see more below).

Another special aspect of our mission at Midwifery Today is the international conferences we have had the privilege of organizing. Having just come home from one in Blankenberge, Belgium, I am warmed by the many midwives, doulas, and even a few doctors who joined us. There were 40 countries represented, and there was incredible energy and enthusiasm in the classes—with entertainment and meals shared. With all that good energy, I think we may have solved all the problems in midwifery and birth—if only the rest of the world would listen!

Since 1992, when we organized our first conference in Eugene, Oregon, we have put on 80 conferences in 20 different countries. We have probably had registrants from well over 100 different countries. That is a huge influence on birth practices and midwifery. Our programs have always promoted optimal birth and we have not sold out to medicalization. Neither have we been so radical in our approach as to be unsafe. Optimal birth is always the goal. That is the best birth possible for each mom, within the parameters of safety.

I don’t think any other organization, except ICM (International Confederation of Midwives), has achieved this kind of influence around the world. And the best thing is all of you—our authors, teachers, and supporters who have achieved this.

We are now embarking on changes to our prior print model for conveying essential birth information—as the technology has changed the way information is sought after, received, and delivered. After this issue, beginning in January 2020, a subscription will be in the form of a Website Membership, which will give you access to each issue online, rather than in hard copy. We hope that you will still consider writing for us so we can keep going strong.

An added value of being online is that we can easily have longer articles, because we do not have to cut to the size of print restrictions. We can add multimedia, such as video or audio clips from authors. We anticipate a whole new world opening to us. We plan to provide new articles every week, rather than waiting until the end of the quarter, as was required by print subscriptions.

At each three-month interval, we will publish our Cover, Poem, Tricks, Midwifery and Childbirth News, From the Editor, Marion’s Message, Media Reviews, Wisdom of the Midwives, and Photo Album electronically. Then it will all be put together and, voila, you have your magazine.

I hope you continue with us on this journey to provide birth information in the twenty-first century.

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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