September 26, 2012
Volume 14, Issue 20
Midwifery Today E-News
“Essential Oils and Pregnancy”
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Brush up on the essentials of midwifery

Germany conferenceLearn about the art, the essence and the subtleties of midwifery care when you attend this full-day workshop with Elizabeth Davis, Carol Gautschi and Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos. Topics covered include prenatal care, holistic complete exam, emotional support in labor and postpartum care. Let these experienced teachers share their wisdom and love of midwifery in a way that will nurture your interest and make you feel welcomed to the world of birth.

Learn more about the Germany conference.

Come weave together the art, science and spirit of midwifery!

Come to our conference in Eugene, Oregon, April 2013. You’ll learn from a great group of teachers, including Elizabeth Davis, Patricia Edmonds, Sharon Evans, Anne Frye, Carol Gautschi, Gail Hart, Sister MorningStar, Michel Odent and Gail Tully. Classes to choose from cover a wide array of topics, including a full-day Spinning Babies Workshop, a full-day on Mexican Traditions and Techniques and a two-day Midwifery Skills class. Plan now to attend!

Learn more about the Eugene conference.

In This Week’s Issue

Quote of the Week

I preach to all who will listen that the best way to serve a woman during her pregnancy is to help her realize that she is her own authority and that a midwife or doctor or doula is only a paid consultant…a woman is her own best expert for her birth and her body knows exactly what to do if given the chance.

Carla Hartley

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The Art of Midwifery

To ripen the cervix, author and midwife Anne Frye suggests inserting six to eight capsules of primrose oil in to the posterior fornix (behind the cervix) every eight to twelve hours. This helps the cervix to produce its own prostaglandins so it can ripen. This will usually work within 24–36 hours.

Jill Cohen, excerpted from “More Evening Primrose Uses,” Wisdom of the Midwives, Tricks of the Trade, Vol. II, a Midwifery Today book
View table of contents / Order the book

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Jan’s Corner

Reaching Critical Mass for Better Birth

Robbie Davis-Floyd tells us that reaching critical mass means that 20% of people know about something; this 20% then tells others in their sphere of influence and the knowledge is passed along until all have heard. Empowering, motherbaby-centered birth is our interest and what we want talked about all around the world. Are we going to reach critical mass for this idea? It seems there are more birth workers, midwives, doulas and childbirth educators, as well as those aspiring to be in these fields, than ever before—will we soon reach critical mass for better birth?

One World Birth has created a film called Freedom for Birth, which was shown in various locations around the world on September 20. There is also a new film out about Ina May Gaskin, and there are many other excellent birth movies being created around the world, including one about our dear friend and colleague Angelina (the proceeds from this movie will go to building her a new birth center in Mexico). There is going to be a British public television show on midwives airing soon. There are magazines, conferences and Facebook discussions about gentle birth going on around the world. Midwifery Today’s Facebook page has a constant stream of new birth discussions. There is so much positive birth work going on and so many people working so hard for motherbaby.

This is the first time I have felt this hopeful about the possibility of reaching critical mass, even though things are worse now than possibly any other time in the history of birth. Maybe things had to get really bad before we would corporately scream loud enough to be heard. There is still so very much work to do, but I am looking at a great hope for the future of birth. That hope is in you. You are the people who are going to be, and are, at the forefront of birth change. Keep up the good work!

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:
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Birth Is a Human Rights Issue:
Midwifery Education: Caring and Sharing:

Live your dream and become a Nurse-Midwife at Frontier Nursing University

advertiserFrontier Nursing University’s nurse-midwifery program is the longest-running midwifery program in the United States, was the first to offer distance education, offers one of the only ADN-MSN online bridge options and educates more certified nurse-midwives than any other program in the country. The community-based distance education program allows you to complete your coursework online and clinical work in your own community.


News and Research

Brazilian Mothers Fight for Natural Birth

More than half of all babies in Brazil are born via cesarean section, a figure that rises to 82% for women with private health insurance. But it seems this trend of managed birth may be changing.

Because more women are pushing for their own choices in childbirth, the federal government is investing billions of dollars into a natural childbirth campaign, including the building of hospitals devoted to maternal care.

“We need to have a serious discussion in this country to see what can be done to change this culture,” said Olimpio Moraes Filho, one of the head doctors with the Brazilian Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Women are starting to rebel, and they should.”

In July, a medical regulating agency in Rio de Janeiro forbade doctors from doing homebirths and doulas from helping out in hospitals, saying, “There are many complications possible during labor that require immediate medical attention.”

In response, women organized marches in 13 cities. In Sao Paulo, they bared their breasts and carried posters reading “Our Children, Our Decision” while chanting “Brazil, don’t follow Rio’s example.”

— Information from “Brazilian Mothers Fight for Natural Birth.” Fox News Latino. Last updated August 13, 2012. Accessed September 10, 2012.

Bini Birth proudly presents a One-day Workshop with
Jan Tritten and Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos

Saturday, September 29, 2012 — 10 am – 5 pm 13743 Riverside, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

Topics include:

  • Visions and Dreams for Birth Change
  • Birth is a Human Rights Issue
  • Tricks of the Trade for Midwives and Doulas
  • Massage in Pregnancy—hands-on practice

CEUs offered. To register: e-mail

Featured Article

Teaching Respect for Hands-On Care

One of the greatest challenges before US midwives is teaching the value of hands-on care to birthing women, the midwives who come after us, the medical profession, the nursing profession and the overall culture. Our culture’s love affair with machines, contraptions and gadgets has, unfortunately, blinded literally hundreds of millions of people to the importance of human contact, feeling, experience and judgment in maternity care. Part of what makes our task a challenge is that hands-on care can be difficult to describe, to record in a few short words, to evaluate—even to recognize, especially to people who have never been present continuously through a labor and birth. We midwives have to learn how to excel at this kind of description, and we need to re-legitimize the art and importance of storytelling if our profession is to thrive once again.

If we don’t tell our stories, how are we to teach women that cervical dilatation can reverse itself simply because they go to a hospital or because the wrong person enters the room? How can women re-learn confidence in their bodies unless they hear how well women’s bodies work, given the right atmosphere? How else can we give the woman who has always had pain medication while giving birth the confidence to labor without medication?

When midwifery was “on a roll” during the 1970s and 1980s, many in our movement thought insurance companies and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) would recognize the savings that would follow adoption of the high-touch, low-tech version of midwifery care we wanted for ourselves and those close to us. That was because few understood the intricacies of how services are billed in hospitals, the extent to which women’s health insurance plans would limit their choices of care provider, the medical-legal requirements of hospitals, the close links between insurance companies and hospital corporations or the ease with which judges and juries could be convinced that a yard-long electronic fetal monitor (EFM) strip is equivalent to or better than the notations made by a midwife or nurse providing intermittent auscultation (along with kind words, comfort measures, encouraging stories and loving touch). EFM strips have incredible illusory power; to the uninitiated they make it look as if someone is in the room with the laboring mother and give the impression that knowing the fetal heart rate during contractions is more important than it actually is. (No one has been able to count the unnecessary cesarean sections that have been performed because of low fetal heart rates recorded during contractions simply because of EFM.)

Ina May Gaskin
Excerpted from “Teaching Respect for Hands-On Care,” Midwifery Today, Issue 70
View table of contents / Order the back issue

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Experience the authentic sights and sounds of birth!
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Birth with Gloria Lemay features nine beautiful homebirths, each one a lovely example of a normal, family birth. It’s a great resource to share with women to help build their confidence in their birthing bodies. The DVD also includes special features on circumcision and the prepuce.
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Discover belly mapping!

The Belly Mapping Workbook shows how a woman can discover her baby’s position in late pregnancy. This technique can be a fun bonding activity and is often used for proactive childbirth preparation using optimal fetal positioning. The workbook includes 100 drawings and photos that take you through details of head-down and breech babies. At just $14.95, it makes a fine gift for a pregnant friend! To order

Belly Mapping Workbook cover

Learn about Shoulder Dystocia and Malpresentations with Midwifery Today’s new 4-CD Audio Set

Shoulder Dystocia Audio 4-CD Set

When you order this CD set you’ll be able to listen to Gail Hart, Mary Cooper and Ina May Gaskin as they discuss a variety of important topics. Material covered includes how to identify true vs. false shoulder dystocia, how nutrition can be one of the best methods of prevention and how to assist shoulder dystocia when it does happen during birth. Also included is information about malpresentations such as twin, breech and asynclitic births and brow, face and periatel presentations.
Order the audio CD set.

Get step-by-step instruction on the maternal exam

Order Maternal Exam for the Student Midwife, Part I, and you’ll receive a two-disc DVD set that provides comprehensive instruction for both beginning students and practicing midwives. Topics covered include palpation of the breasts and abdomen, Leopold’s maneuvers, fundal height measurement and the correct procedure for taking fetal heart tones. Colorful illustrations, detailed descriptions and live demonstrations add to the usefulness of this package. To order

Maternal Exam for the Student Midwife, Part II, The Pelvic Exam is also available.

book cover

Website Update

Read this review from Midwifery Today magazine, Issue 100, now available on our website:

  • Catching Babies—by J.D. Kleinke, reviewed by Joni Nichols
    Excerpt: Kleinke’s novel provides accurate descriptions of the numbing fatigue reproductive specialists experience, as well as the exhaustive medical training these trainees must undergo regardless of where they plan to work after their residencies.

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Birth Q&A

Q: What essential oils did you find helpful during pregnancy?

— Midwifery Today

A: The scent of lavender and/or rose oils helped me with nausea.

— Tracy Biering

A: High quality oils are a must! But my personal favorites are Young Living’s: lavender, Valor, Surrender, lemon, peppermint, clary sage, PanAway, angelica and Thieves.

— Ursula Sabia Sukinik

A: Clary sage; not sure if it worked to help things hurry up at 42 weeks (I used it for a good three weeks prior), but it sure smelt beautiful and made me very relaxed.

— Angela Grego-McCulloch

A: Doterra’s Digestzen and ginger for morning sickness in early stages!

— Soshanna Taryn Shari Hayhoe

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Wisdom from the Web

It’s safe to use some essential oils while you’re pregnant, as long as you’re healthy and you’re careful with them. Essential oils are highly concentrated substances extracted from plants. They are powerful, so it’s important to use them sparingly.

— Babycentre

Ylang ylang properties include antidepressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, sedative (increases calmness) and tonic. It can also help with high blood pressure. It can help with rapid breathing, balancing equilibrium, frustration and even sex drive problems. To use ylang ylang, apply topically with no dilution necessary to reflex point or area of concern. You can also diffuse it.

— Birth without Fear

The oils of aromatic plants have been used for centuries for both their smell and their medicinal applications. But just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s good for you. I can’t think of a time this is more critical to understand than during pregnancy. Some essential oils have hormone-like effects, others stimulate the uterine muscles and others are just plain toxic.

— David Fisher

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

Conference Chatter

Social Networking for Conferences

Midwifery Today uses social networking for each of our conferences. Donna Dolezal Zelzer (our marketing director) or I start a page for each conference. Germany has a page ( and so does Eugene, Oregon ( These are great resources where you can see what is going on and figure out room or ride shares. You can start any kind of conversation you want, such as “Which classes will you take?” or “Shall we meet for lunch?” We also post any changes to the program on our website. The program is then linked from our Facebook page for that conference.

Speaking of Eugene, I am already really excited about this conference because I am thrilled to connect the art of our lives (gardening, song and dance, etc.) with many other arts, which is one of the special aspects of this important event. Besides all of the important clinical subjects we always include, we also have Patricia Edmonds teaching the “Art and Science of the Placenta,” and Patricia Couch will teach us “Palpation and Belly Painting.” These are just a few of the fun things we have in store for you. Besides fun, there will be insights to gain and inspiration to keep you working for motherbaby. I hope to see you there, or should I say here—since it is home! Join us on our Eugene page!

Join us in Midwifery Today’s hometown of Eugene which means “good birth.” See you there!

— Jan Tritten

ed page graphic

You want to be a midwife, but where do you start?

Are you an aspiring midwife who’s looking for the right school? Or maybe you’re trying to decide if midwifery is the path for you. Visit our Better Birth Education Opportunities page to discover ways to start or continue your education.


I was attending a VBAC hopeful mom this summer (2012) who was having lots of anxiety due to prodromal labor. I offered to help her calm herself with Young Living’s Peace and Calming essential oil blend. She visibly calmed down within a matter of moments. However, she had just about thrown in the towel around 48 hours later and was ready to go in for a repeat c-section for excruciating back pain. I applied Young Living’s PanAway essential oil across her lower back and then she climbed up into bed and slept a few hours. I left the bottle with her and throughout the night she would apply it again when overwhelmed by back pain. When morning came, she entered active labor and a few short hours later beautifully birthed her baby in triumph in her own living room, under her own power.

— Denise Easthon

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