|April 27, 2011|
Volume 13, Issue 9
|Midwifery Today E-News|
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In This Week’s Issue
Quote of the Week
Do something for somebody every day in which you do not get paid.
— Albert Schweitzer
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The Art of Midwifery
I have reintroduced the ancient practice of cord burning in disaster situations in Sumatra, Cambodia and Haiti. I have brought it to homebirths all over the US and Canada. Each time it has been received with open minds and thankful families when baby’s cord falls off quickly and easily without infection. I have had many discussions and sharing forums with traditional midwives all over the world and each time the midwives’ eyes light up; they feel like they have learned something that they can use with the resources available in their own communities.
ALL BIRTH PRACTITIONERS: The techniques you’ve perfected over months and years of practice are valuable lessons for others to learn! Share them with E-News readers by sending them to email@example.com.
Send submissions, inquiries, and responses to newsletter items to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes from the Eugene Conference
Our recent “national” midwifery conference held in Eugene, Oregon, “Gentle Birth Is a Human Rights Issue,” felt more like an international conference than a domestic one. The participants, from many countries, helped remind me that we are truly on a global mission. That mission is to change abusive birth practices all around the world by instituting good ones. When we were in Russia, we started the Global Midwifery Council (GMC) to address the needs of countries who want help changing the birth paradigm in their countries. We had many meetings in Eugene to figure out possible strategies for our approach to this change. It is still true that we (mostly the US) ruined most of the world’s birth practices with the waves of medical imperialism that overtook other countries’ practices. Those who understand birth need to add their efforts to this new paradigm. Many of you are doing that right now.
One thing I realize that Midwifery Today conferences do is plant amazing seeds, through conference classes, and through the education, networking, discussion, love and hugs that are exchanged throughout the conferences. In Eugene we had midwives from Oman, Ghana, Rwanda, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Denmark and many other places who will take the ideas, knowledge and insights they received and share them with their countries’ midwives. Changes will come because of all of the fine work and attention each one of you gives to birth, spreading good birth to your sphere of influence.
I really like the way CIMS (Coalition for Improving Maternity Services) works. It is egalitarian rather than hierarchical, one of the goals of the GMC. This makes it very fluid. As an organization, CIMS is able to use very talented and diverse people who show up at each meeting. Midwifery Today was privileged to have hosted their international meeting, IMBCI (International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative) before our Wildbad, Germany conference. We hosted one at our conference in Strasbourg, as well.
My overall goal is to have good—no, great—birth practices all over the world by the time God takes me home. I want great practices to be approved by the World Health Organization and other important international organizations. The IMBCI document is the starting point for human rights in the birth room (http://www.imbci.org/ShowPage.asp?id=174). Even something like decent hospital architecture can help changes things. One of our wonderful conference teachers, Vicki Penwell, sent me this link right after the conference: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chi-mgbako/maternal-death_b_844188.html.
My prayer is that Midwifery Today’s efforts through our conferences, Web site and print materials, plant seeds of change and that all of you water and tend those new plants. We will reach critical mass together.
— Jan Tritten, mother of Midwifery Today
Jan Tritten is the founder, editor-in-chief and mother of Midwifery Today magazine. She became a midwife in 1977 after the amazing homebirth of her second daughter. Her mission is to make loving midwifery care the norm for birthing women and their babies throughout the world. Meet Jan at our conferences around the world, or join her online, as she works to transform birth practices around the world.
Jan on Twitter: twitter.com/jantritten
Complementary and Alternative Therapies Review
The Network of Researchers in the Public Health of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NORPHCAM) recently reviewed 19 studies published between 1999 and 2009 covering the views of more than 3,000 maternity professionals in seven countries. The review lead NORPHCAM to conclude that the use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) in maternity care, while steadily increasing in popularity, is still received more positively among midwives than among obstetricians.
However, “a study of 401 American obstetricians found that 98% routinely endorsed, provided or referred patients for at least one CAM treatment” while a similar study reported just 89% of American midwives who answered study surveys said they’d refer a patient to a CAM provider. In the studies mentioned, obstetricians most preferred CAM’s included movement therapies, biofeedback and acupuncture. The midwives most preferred CAM’s included herbal preparations, pharmacologic/biologic treatments and mind-body interventions.
The review findings emphasized the need for an evidence base that would provide more insight for maternity care professionals on the use of complementary and alternative medicines. Some professional organizations, including The Royal College of Midwives have echoed these findings by endorsing CAM training for midwives.
— “Review highlights need for more education and guidance on complementary and alternative medicine use in midwifery.” Medical News Today. February 24, 2011.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7348448
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The Same in Any Language
I had been in the Philippines for three days. I was still a little jet-lagged, still a little overwhelmed, but getting there. Definitely getting there. I was there for a month, interning at a Mercy Maternity Center in Davao, brushing up on my skills and generally having a working vacation. I was lucky in that I didn’t need catches, didn’t need paperwork filled out. I was there not for the NARM or for numbers. I was there for me, in a sort of self-guided quest to learn more about myself as a midwife and as a person. Perhaps it was a mini-midlife crisis but, whatever the motivation, I was looking forward to some serious introspection—right after I figured out where, in this huge city, I could get some decent coffee and find air-conditioned rooms.
It was my first day working in the prenatal clinic. I love clinic, always have. I think so many young students come into this profession enamored with the births. Me? I loved the interaction and relationship that comes from seeing the same woman, week after week, hour after hour. I love building her trust in her body and in herself, and seeing how I changed too, as I draped the midwifery model of care around each of my families.
It was different here, of course, but different was what I wanted.
How do you apply the midwifery model of care, with its emphasis on personal empowerment, female solidarity and choice in a place where individualism is decidedly not valued? It’s not that these women don’t have minds of their own. They certainly do. It’s just that their heads and hearts are centered on and in a large, strong community, one that is necessary to survive in this place. It’s the old Vulcan “needs of the many” philosophy.
For instance, we had a mother who had to be transported to the Davao Medical Center soon after birth when she developed a large anal hematoma that needed care. The baby was not allowed to come along with his mother, but her husband went with her and that left us with a little mascot for the night.
Now, holding and loving on a newborn is not a problem for a bunch of midwives, but sooner or later that baby is going to get hungry and vocal. The obvious solution in the US would be to rustle up some Enfamil and call it good. Here? Three newly postpartum mothers volunteered to nurse this baby as well as their own. Can you imagine that happening in the States? Breastfeeding a stranger’s child? Without knowing the mother’s or baby’s disease status? What about AIDS? Hepatitis? Isn’t that just plain gross? But here it’s called community, and is seen as a lovely thing, not a reckless death wish. My Seattle clients might do this if the chance arose, but I’m sure that they would have questions for me regarding the other mother’s health. My clients also know that I deal with a low-risk population, and that is not necessarily the case in the Philippines. It’s just a different way of looking at the world, and your place in it.
Prenatal care also is very different here. Women in the Philippines are given a prenatal day, rather than a prenatal time. Time is a different concept here, and everyone has his or her own interpretation of it. At 8:00 am, women start arriving for their prenatal day. They gather in a room, where the administrative personnel check them in and get a set of vitals. Then there is a health teaching, which includes singing. So much singing! I love this place! Usually it’s something about the dangers of STDs, or about how important it is to eat vegetables, or something along those lines. Of course, the singing is all in Visayan, the dialect most of the clients speak, so I can’t be sure what the lyrics are, but they scan beautifully and it sounds great.
My room is next door to the prenatal clinic, and I love waking up to the music. After the teaching, each woman is called on a first-come, first-served basis. The prenatal exams are done in one big room with six exam tables separated by the ever-present moveable curtains. There are six midwives working at one time, and the client sees whichever midwife is available at that time.
Web Site Update
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Birth Wisdom from the Web
Editor’s Note: From the pages of Facebook to our favorite blogs, news bits and videos, this new E-News column brings you the best bits from the birth-related Web.
The White Ribbon Alliance is an international coalition working to ensure safe pregnancy and childbirth for all women and babies. Read the inspiring stories the alliance has gathered of midwives volunteering around the world: http://www.whiteribbonalliance.org/storiesofmidwives/
April is Caesarean Awareness Month: theunnecesarean.com has a number of informative and educational resources. Their page on avoiding a caesarean is one expectant mothers will find especially useful: http://www.theunnecesarean.com/avoid-an-unnecesarean/
If you’d like to share a bit of wisdom from the Web, please send a 4–5 sentence excerpt, accompanied by a link, to email@example.com.
Think about It
Sometimes we have personal epiphanies or collective euphoria, declaring to the world that our power cannot be named, or tamed, even by ourselves. The current carries us, willingly or unwillingly, and in the end, it is us, and not the other, who has filled our river with tears of sorrow and bliss.
— Sister MorningStar
Dear Midwifery Today Readers,
We are in the process of undertaking scoping work around initial midwifery education and practice placements in midwifery worldwide.
We would be grateful if you could complete an online questionnaire for us by going to this link: http://www.impressity.com/Survey/sl.aspx?SurveyLinkId=vnifvlikcgsyzdcxuqfo
As we hope to inform you of the results of this scoping work in the summer, we would appreciate it if you could complete the questionnaire by the end of April 2011. However, responses after this date will also be accepted. It is anticipated that the completion of the survey will take no longer than 30 minutes of your time.
We also encourage you to forward the questionnaire link to any contacts you may have within the midwifery community so that we can collect results from midwifery educators in as many countries as possible. In this way we can ensure the scoping exercise is truly global.
We acknowledge that you are busy and take this opportunity to thank you for your valuable contribution.
— Tina Harris Lead Midwife for Education/Midwifery Division Lead, De Montfort University, UK
— Kuldip Bharj Senior Lecturer/Lead Midwife for Education, The University of Leeds, UK
Only letters sent to the E-News official e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, will be considered for inclusion. Letters sent to ANY OTHER e-mail addresses will not be considered.
Periglow, the best to support the perineum after birth. Periglow is a ready-to-use Swiss compress to promote healing the first weeks after giving birth. As a soak or bath. http://www.periglow.com
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