September 12, 2012
Volume 14, Issue 19
Midwifery Today E-News
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Placenta rituals, remedies and recipes…

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…are what you’ll find in Placenta: The Gift of Life. Read this book to discover the various ways placentas have been used by people around the world and throughout the ages. You’ll also find 15 recipes that will show you how to use the placenta in ointments, essences and other remedies for a variety of ailments. Placenta: The Gift of Life is a book from Motherbaby Press, an imprint of Midwifery Today.
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Immerse yourself in midwifery education!

Germany conferenceMidwifery Education for a Global Future is an intensive study day designed for existing and would-be midwifery educators, students and anyone who cares about this topic. Elizabeth Davis, Sharon Evans, Gail Hart and Jan Tritten bring diverse experience and approaches that will enhance your knowledge in this area. Part of our conference in Bad Wildbad, Germany, this October.

Learn more about the Germany conference.

Develop your breech skills!

Eugene conferenceAttend the full-day class with Angelina Martinez Miranda (pictured), Michel Odent, Diane Goslin, Betty-Anne Daviss and Carol Gautschi. The teachers will discuss how to turn breech babies and what to do when attempts at turning don’t work. Topics covered include palpation skills, estimating fetal weight, amniotic fluid, prolapse, fetal heart tones and frank, footling and complete breech. Part of our conference in Eugene, Oregon, April 2013. Plan now to attend!

Learn more about the Eugene conference.

In This Week’s Issue

Quote of the Week

The parallels between making love and giving birth are clear, not only in terms of passion and love, but also because we need essentially the same conditions for both experiences: privacy and safety.

Sarah Buckley

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The Art of Midwifery

Midwives, please ask yourselves the next question: Why are we buying into the medical ritual of cord cutting? When I see one of my Lotus birth babies gingerly holding her cord, I feel the goodness of leaving them intact. Her cord, his placenta, the baby’s companion in the womb, who has sustained mother and child through pregnancy, has shared the baby’s magical prenatal world. We live in a world of mine, with mountains of possessions. I wonder if the roots of consumerism are planted in the practice of taking babies’ cord and placenta away before they naturally let go. And I ask myself: Why cut the cord?

Robin Lim, excerpted from “Lotus Birth: Asking the Next Question,” Sharing Midwifery Knowledge, Tricks of the Trade, Vol. IV, a Midwifery Today book
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Jan’s Corner

Midwifery Is Not Medicine

The situation of childbirth around the world is frightening in a number of very sad ways. Medicine comes along with horrendous practices and ruins the miracle of birth, as well as the most important moments in the life of a mother and baby. What should be a miracle becomes abusive—a situation from which mom and baby need to heal. Bad practices are applied in most countries and linger on for decades no matter how much evidence shows they are contrary to health. A few examples are lithotomy position, artificial rupture of membranes, immediate cord cutting, drugs, episiotomies and separation of mother and baby (and, and, and…). Then these practices tenaciously hold on. I just asked on my Facebook page, “Have the hospitals in your area done away with central newborn nurseries and only have NICUs for sick babies?” The answers made me ashamed to be in the US. It seems that the UK has done completely away with nurseries, but most places in the US still have them.

Our starting point is all wrong. Childbirth has been wrongly placed in the realm of medicine. Childbirth is as unique as life; both can be going along fine, and then the need for medical care may come up and save a life or improve an outcome, but birth should not be placed in medicine. Birth belongs in the unique category of midwifery, and midwifery needs to be mother-led.

The way to change birth in the world is to put it into midwifery, and then take midwifery out of medicine. Just because we need some tools from medicine, does not mean midwifery is medical. It belongs as its own study drawn from aspects of psychology, counseling, indigenous studies, anthropology, massage, naturopathy and alternative medicine. So let us revamp midwifery to be a partnership with women, as in the New Zealand model, and begin to teach moms and dads from the time they are born how beautiful birth can be and how with truly good practices (mostly hands-off), mom and baby can be given a strong and powerful place to begin their new roles in life.

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.

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News and Research

Freedom for Birth

Freedom for Birth is a 50-minute documentary that could be the most important film about birth ever made. It explains why and exactly how women will take back childbirth.

There will be a global premiere event, where thousands of people will be hosting screenings of the finished film in their local community on September 20, 2012.

Shortly after the global network of premieres, the film will be released over the Internet for free, hoping to build on the momentum started by the premieres. The makers of the film are hoping to inspire action with this project.

— “About One World Birth.” Accessed August 26, 2012.

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Featured Article

The Care and Keeping of Placentas

The placenta is not generally a topic of discussion during the course of a pregnancy, unless it is not doing its job properly or is not in the best position for safe birthing. If the placenta is functioning as it should, little thought or consideration is given to it.

The placenta is a key player in the generation of new life. Each one is as individual and unique as the baby itself. Every baby needs a strong, healthy placenta in order to have the best chance at surviving the pregnancy and birth. Considering the important role the placenta plays, I am surprised that it remains something of a mystery to the vast majority of people. In a discussion with one first-time mother, she expressed her confusion at the fact that she did not feel the baby pulling on her belly when it moved around in her uterus; she thought the umbilical cord was connected to the back of her belly button. Most expectant parents don’t know what a placenta even looks like. Some women don’t realize that they actually need to birth the placenta the same way that they birth their baby.

With so much confusion and a lack of basic knowledge in the US, the placenta is treated indifferently or even fearfully. When a placenta is born in a hospital, the obstetrician will examine it to make sure that none of it has been retained. Sometimes a mother is injured when the obstetrician tries to rush the natural birthing process by pulling on the umbilical cord, which can cause the placenta to tear from the womb before it is ready. This can cause unnecessary trauma to the mother and has not been shown to have any benefit whatsoever.

Hospitals treat placentas as medical waste or biohazard material. The newborn placenta is placed in a biohazard bag for storage. Some hospitals keep the placenta for a period of time in case the need arises to send it to pathology for further analysis. Once the hospital is done with the placenta, it is put on a truck with all the other placentas and medical waste accumulated at the hospital that week for “proper disposal.” If it is sent to the pathology department, it will be analyzed using chemical treatment and dissection.

In other hospitals, placentas are incinerated onsite. One might think that each placenta is incinerated individually, but the truth is very different. According to a charge nurse at a major hospital, all of the placentas are tossed into a large bin together. The contents of this bin are then dumped into the incinerator about once a week or “when it starts to leak or smell.”

Jodi Selander
Excerpted from “The Care and Keeping of Placentas,” Midwifery Today, Issue 90
View table of contents / Order the back issue

Featured Products

Fill Your Birth Library with Midwifery Today Back Issues

Midwifery Today back issuesEach quarterly issue of Midwifery Today print magazine is packed full of birth news, insights and information. You’ll also get an in-depth look at an important topic, with several articles devoted to the issue theme. Look over the list of available issues, then order the ones you need to help improve your practice. Order yours.

Bask in the beauty of six good births

Five Countries, Six Births, Seven Babies DVDFive Countries, Six Births, Seven Babies showcases homebirths in Guatemala, Costa Rica, France, the USA and Bermuda. Filmed between 1994 and 2010, this DVD’s powerful images of mothers and babies can inspire a woman to learn to embrace birth as a joyful experience. It definitely belongs on any birth professional’s media shelf. Buy the DVD.

What’s black and white…

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The Shoulder Dystocia Handbook
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Womb with a View pendant This sterling silver pendant by Russell Wray captures the quiet potential of a baby in the womb and makes a fine gift for any birth professional. ORDER HERE

Carry a bundle of birth stories
on your smartphone or e-book reader!

Birth stories are fun to read and good to share. And now you can have 21 birth stories available anytime and anywhere, when you purchase and download Birth Stories, a collection of personal accounts from past issues of Midwifery Today magazine. These stories were written by mothers, fathers and midwives, and cover homebirth, hospital birth, twin birth, breech birth, VBACs and waterbirth.

Check it out on Smashwords, then choose your format, purchase and download. Learn more about the different formats here.

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Website Update

YouTube Tricks-3Watch this YouTube video mentioned in Jan Tritten’s editorial from Midwifery Today, Autumn 2012, highlighted in last issue’s Website Update:
Shoulder Dystocia III—Tricks of the Trade
In this video, attendees at Midwifery Today’s Denmark conference share tricks of the trade about shoulder dystocia. (You may wish to download the video first and then view it without streaming interruption.)

Read these reviews from the Summer 2012 issue of Midwifery Today magazine, now on our website:

  • The Postdates and Postmaturity Handbook, Edited by Jan Tritten, reviewed by Sunday Tortelli
    Excerpt: Induction rates are at an all-time high with a corresponding increase in prematurity rates and adverse complications. The prevailing societal expectation is that it is perfectly acceptable to choose a baby’s birth date; in fact, women have been convinced that it is dangerous to allow a pregnancy to continue as long as it might need to.
  • Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond by Nancy Bardacke, reviewed by Nancy Halseide
    Excerpt: The purpose of the book is to teach mindfulness during pregnancy, labor, birth and beyond in lieu of taking an actual MBCP class or as a supplement to the class. Bardacke coaches expectant couples to let go of their preconceived ideas about childbirth and become free to discover for themselves what giving birth is all about.

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Birth Q&A

Q: What did you do with your baby’s placenta?

— Midwifery Today

A: Each of our children has a fruit tree that is planted with their placenta. On their birthday we take a photo of them with their tree, and they look forward to enjoying and sharing their fruit with their siblings.

— Allie Ibbotson

A: We put it in a 9 x 13 container on the porch to keep it chilled (it was early winter). We forgot about it in the joy of the new baby. It froze and got knocked off the porch. The container broke open and the dog ate it. He seems a lot more in touch with his feminine side now…

— Megan Roelfs

A: Encapsulated it! I had to smuggle it out of the hospital after having a surprise induction at 33 weeks because of HELLP (a complication of preeclampsia). Best decision ever—this was baby #5 and my milk supply was awesome even with having to pump (the little one couldn’t suck just yet). My bleeding was only period-heavy less than 24 hours after starting the capsules and stopped all together in about nine days. With all the reasons I had to be more depressed, it worked at least 100 times better than the Zoloft I had taken with previous babies for PPD.

— Andrea Felsinger

A: I made placenta prints with both of mine. The pictures are so beautiful and unique. Afterwards I had them in my freezer with plans to plant them, but we moved so I had to dry them. I would like to plant them somewhere special one day.

— Jessica Haworth

A: I didn’t know I could do anything with it. It makes me sad…

— Bridgette Becker

A: Nine years have passed and it’s still in our freezer waiting to be buried for a special tree planting!

— Navah Paskowitz

A: We left it attached, but on ice in a cooler until the cord fell off on the third night. The next morning my husband did placenta prints with spirulina and turmeric. I rinsed and cut the placenta in small pill-sized pieces and froze them to take raw a few times a day. I plan on making a few bottles of tincture for future use. My son is 1 month old, and this babymoon and transition have been terrific!

— Amy Giove

A: Placenta wine. I’m saving it for menopause.

— Crystal Crickette Fedele

A: I’m due in a week and am planning a lotus birth.

— Jennifer Ramsey-Dietlin

A: When my midwife turned it inside out, I was enamored with its beauty—the colors and the veining. I had to be hard-pressed to eat a bit of it, but it was to help slow my bleeding. It worked! That was 32 years ago, but I remember like it was yesterday.

— Louisa Haddaway

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Wisdom from the Web

Reverent celebratory rituals are performed to honor the placenta in countries all over the world, and even here in our own backyard. The Navajo of the American Southwest customarily bury a child’s placenta within the sacred Four Corners region to bind the child to its ancestral land and to its people. The Maoris of New Zealand bury the placenta in native soil for the same reason. They even applied their word for land to the placenta—whenua.

— Nourishing Wisdom Services

Women who give birth at home have the luxury of being in complete control over the care and handling of their baby’s placenta. A woman who births in a hospital has to adhere to the guidelines and policies in place at their facility of choice. In some cases, there is no written policy, and mothers are then subjected to the whim of the staff on duty at the time they deliver. If you want to take your placenta home after its birth, you must have a plan before you walk through the doors in labor. Your chance of success will increase greatly.

— Placenta, Mother Nature for mothers

This organ grows from the time of conception to eventually take over the production of hormones needed to sustain the pregnancy at around 12 weeks gestation (from your last menstrual period). It supplies your growing baby with a means of obtaining nutrients for development, as well as a method of waste disposal. This is the only disposable organ ever made.

— The Amazing Placenta

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

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Learn about midwifery education!

Are you an aspiring midwife who’s looking for the right school? Are you a practicing midwife who would like to learn more? Visit our Education Opportunities page to discover ways to start or continue your education.

Conference Chatter

Conference Dreams

Before we head for our October conference in Bad Wildbad, Germany, Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos and I will go first to our friend Sally Kelly in the UK and look at a possible venue for a conference, a lovely retreat site she has found. It is always exciting to visit places where we might do a future conference. We try to find not only the place to have the conference, but we also try to get a feel for the midwifery and birth climate in that country.

After a couple of nights with Sally, we will head to the island of Cyprus. Several of us dreamed of having a conference where all midwives (Muslims, Jews, Christians, those who claim another religion and those who claim no religion at all) feel comfortable to attend. Good midwifery practice is needed the world over and that is what Midwifery Today teachers strive for. Cyprus came up as one of those places. We want a place near enough to Europe, but also convenient for our sisters from Islamic countries. If you have contacts or places you think we should check out on Cyprus, please let us know.

After Cyprus, we will be off to Bad Wildbad, Germany, for the conference we have been so looking forward to. Our conferences now bring many countries’ midwives and doulas together in one place, and I am excited to meet new friends from all over the world. I also look forward to learning from our excellent teachers and, of course, enjoying those amazing spas and the beautiful little town! I hope to see you there.

— Jan Tritten

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Bring resources about homebirth and midwifery to your community.

Does your library have relevant natural birth and midwifery resources? Did you know that as a patron of the library, you can make requests for specific books, magazines and DVDs? If these resources are not available for mothers to find, how will they make educated decisions? Making requests is easy. Go here to learn how.


A dad dropped a cooler with the placenta and ice on the steps of the hospital lobby. The placenta slid through the lobby. Everyone froze. He ran, grabbed the placenta and kept right on running out the front door!

— Amber Price

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