May 22, 2013
Volume 15, Issue 11
Midwifery Today E-News
“International Edition”
Print Page

Welcome to Midwifery Today E-News !

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Check out our Spring into Savings page to find out how. Books in this series include Postdates and Postmaturity, Tear Prevention, Prolonged Labor and Hemorrhage. You’ll also find special offers from other birth-related businesses. Offer expires June 30.

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Join us in Belgium this fall!

Belgium conferencePlan now to attend our conference in Blankenberge, Belgium, 30 October – 3 November 2013. The theme is “Autonomous Midwifery” and planned classes include Placenta Medicine, Waterbirth, Breech Birth, Shoulder Dystocia and Spinning Babies.

Learn more about the Belgium conference.

Come to Moscow! Learn about birth!

Russia conferencePlan to attend the “Natural Birth: Skills, Science and Traditions” conference June 25–29 in Moscow, Russia. You will meet amazing and informative teachers from around the world, including Sister MorningStar (pictured), Carol Gautschi, Gail Hart, Elizabeth Davis and Beverley Lawrence Beech. Planned classes include Spinning Babies Workshop, Birth Trauma and Baby Health, Mexican Traditions and Techniques, and Fear: How It Affects Labor.

Learn more about the Russia conference.

In This Week’s Issue

Quote of the Week

The greatest joy is to become a mother; the second greatest is to be a midwife.

Norwegian proverb

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The Art of Midwifery

Lotus birth—leaving the cord intact and being patient until the cord releases—is the ideal in non-intervention and non-violence. (See Midwifery Today 58:14.) However, many families may find this psychologically burdensome. Since most modern humans shy away from just about anything as visceral as sleeping with a newborn baby still intact with cord and placenta, we have come up with a wonderful alternative to cord cutting: cord burning.

Doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine often treat a new patient for “the wound of having one’s cord cut at birth.” This leads us to ask; “What are we doing cutting all these cords? Why are we wounding babies?” In old China, the cord was carefully burned. This practice moves the qi that is latent in the placenta into the baby. Indeed, we have witnessed low Apgar babies, with dusky blue complexions, pink right up as the cord is burned. According to Bobbie Aqua, DCM, “Cord burning brings the element of fire to the birth; warmth is essential for baby’s well-being and mother’s recovery to full strength and ample milk supply.”

Robin Lim, Harvest Rowena Alcock and Kelly Dunn
Excerpted from “Tsunami Midwives: Learning to Burn the Umbilical Cord,” in The Third Stage of Labor, a Midwifery Today e-book.

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

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Jan’s Corner

“Traditional Birth Attendant” vs. “Traditional Midwife”

I have been working with my friend and colleague Debbie Díaz Ortiz in fighting the derogatory term of traditional birth attendant (TBA) that WHO, ICM and others have given to traditional midwives. TBA is being applied to midwives all over the world who do not fit into an educational regime dictated by others. It is our hope to call a midwife a midwife rather than decide who is a midwife. Communities define these women, not our medical imperialistic ways. The following piece was written by Debbie; the full article can be found here.

During the last decades of the twentieth century, international programs were mostly directed to help midwives in isolated areas. By the year 2000, the goals set forth for the new millennium by The United Nations only promoted professional midwifery services for all, implying that the midwives from the villages (referred to as “traditional birth attendants”) were to simply accompany women, while referring them to the professionals. The midwives from isolated communities were only to work as midwives when there was not a professional to take charge.

Shortly after those changes, Latin America began to report the following: 1) more mistreatment during transports and in hospitals, 2) [fewer] supplies than previously received from governments and NGOs, 3) no personnel available to send to the communities for continuing education and other matters and 4) lack of transparency from the professional care providers. What’s more concerning is that the disconnection of midwives from their roles is not as prolific in Latin America as it is in Asia and Africa where WHO has more of a focus.

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:

Products for Fertility, Pregnancy & Nursing Health


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Featured Article

Country Contact Reports

Editor’s Note: Midwifery Today is interested in promoting international networking among childbirth practitioners. Our goal is to strengthen the international community by establishing a country contact in every country of the world.

For this international edition of E-News, we asked Midwifery Today’s country contacts the following question:

Please tell us if you have been personally persecuted because of your midwifery profession. Briefly describe the legal situation in your country regarding your profession.


Indonesia has great respect for midwives. I have had the honor to speak before 7600 young midwives in 2012. So far in 2013, I have shared Gentle Birth Seminars with over 4000 young midwives and their teachers.

Midwives in our country enjoy much autonomy. However, they struggle with the regulations, including the 58 steps for how to deliver a baby, authored by Jhpiego, the corporate arm of Johns Hopkins University, USA. Midwives in Indonesia wish to follow gentle childbirth protocols, including delayed clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord and early initiation of exclusive breastfeeding. They express to me how difficult it is to practice evidence-based gentle medical protocols in the shadow of the Jhpiego publication.

The UN Millennium Development goals are not nearly going to be achieved in 2015. Governments tell departments of health, and in turn midwives, doctors and birthkeepers, to let no mother or baby die. Yet, how can the birthkeepers be responsible for the side effects of poverty, hunger and malnutrition, which claim the lives of 27 out of 1000 new babies born in Indonesia? In Indonesia, 228 mothers are lost per 100,000 live births—still one of the highest maternal death rates in Asia.

Midwives are acknowledged in Indonesia as the essential bridge that can guide women safely into motherhood.

Robin Lim


This is neither a birth-friendly nor successful breastfeeding country. The medical model of care rules with an iron fist. Women have no say in what happens to them, and physicians are intolerant of questions. Midwives are paid by the Public Hospital’s Authority; they have neither autonomy nor independence. They work from the medical model of care and are little more than physician assistants.

The basic facts about maternity care in this Commonwealth are:

  1. Physicians have the ultimate and absolute authority over clients; options do not exist and the physician is not to be questioned. The Prime Minister’s representative to Grand Bahama said, “Because it (The Rand) is a public hospital and health care is free, women have no rights.”
  2. Evidence-based practice is irrelevant. Current research outcomes have no part to play in the obstetrical practice here.
  3. There is no ethical code. Physicians have absolute and unquestioned authority.
  4. There is no accountability relative to birth outcomes, the high incidence of cesarean births, operative obstetrics, induced cord prolapse caused by early amniotomy, breastfeeding outcomes or the abuse of childbearing women.

So, what does this mean?

  1. The care is totally physician-oriented rather than client-centered. The physician’s comfort comes first (home at a decent hour for dinner and sleep). Forced and active management of labor is what it is all about. Mothers are not given options because the physician is not to be questioned, and his choice of practice is what will determine the care the mother receives. The mother has absolutely no say in what is happening to her or what she would like to have done to her.
  2. Research is of no merit here. The physicians do as they were trained. New research findings are of no consequence because there is no accountability for the physician’s practice or outcomes. Nothing is learned from past error, and the aged protocols prevail because no one is demanding change.
  3. There is no respect for women, their rights, their bodies or their births. It is a male-dictated and dominated event. There is no ethical code of conduct. It is as the physician wants and no questions are to be asked. Since nothing is unethical, whatever level of care (or lack thereof) prevails.
  4. No one cares what the birth outcomes are as long as there is a living mother and baby. The circumstances of the birth or the condition of the clients don’t matter. There is no transparency of birth practices, so physicians can do whatever they do without concern for examination of outdated, abusive, harmful care. No one challenges the doctor.

— Mary

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Birth Wisdom from Michel Odent

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This e-book is a collection of 24 articles by French obstetrician and natural childbirth advocate Michel Odent. Dr. Odent has been influencing the history of childbirth and health research for several decades and is familiarly known as the obstetrician who introduced the concept of birthing pools and home-like birthing rooms. When you buy this e-book, you’ll be able to read articles such as When Love Hormones Become Useless, Dispelling Disempowering Birth Vocabulary, and Childbirth from a Bacteriological Perspective.

Get your copy on Amazon to read on your Kindle or free Kindle app here. Also on Smashwords here.

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Midwifery Today Magazine Issue 103

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.

Website Update

Read this article from the current issue of Midwifery Today, Spring 2013:

  • A Scholarship Solution and Grand Challenge from Mercy In Action by Vicki Penwell
    Postscript by Claudia Booker and Jennie Joseph

    Excerpt: Overseas midwife Vicki Penwell shares her scholarship program and challenges other organizations and midwifery schools to join her in her efforts. “A midwife for every woman—that is our grand ideal, but what if you are a woman of color in America? Where is the midwife from your unique culture? … When we are aware of the grave injustice of black babies dying at twice or three times the rate of white babies in America and know that the disparity in maternal mortality between black women and white women is even wider in the US, this question takes on dire urgency.”

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Conference Chatter

Conference in Russia

Midwifery Today and Home Child magazine are presenting our third joint conference in Moscow, Russia, 25–29 June 2013. The theme this year is “Natural Birth: Skills, Science and Traditions.”

Our experiences in Russia have been more than amazing. As one who lived through the cold war, going there and seeing how warm and friendly the people are was quite a shock. It is striking how we are all fighting the same battles in birthing rooms around the world. The touch of a loving midwife and the respect a birthing woman needs are the same all over the world. Our battle is real and it is worthy of our efforts.

We have many excellent teachers from the US, England, Mexico, Norway and, of course, Russia, speaking at this conference. At our last Russian conference, there were some registrants who came to the forefront through sharing their skills, and who now are scheduled as presenters at this year’s conference. You will meet Julia Shelepina, a traditional midwife whose knowledge made us say, “She has to teach!” Last time in Russia, in between classes she was always on the floor showing all sorts of techniques and helping the women who were present. As with Mexican midwife Angelina Martinez Miranda, her hands-on knowledge will be a joy to learn from. You will meet many other great Russian presenters and learn firsthand of the joys and frustrations of making birth change in Russia. Here is the link to the information about classes and teachers.

— Jan Tritten

ed page graphic

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About 12 hours into the birth of my second child, there were no indications of an impending delivery—I just knew I was in for a very long night. I got out of the tub for a bathroom break, but as soon as I stood up, the contractions came on like a 100-car pile-up, and my body started pushing. I couldn’t believe my midwife when she said I needed to get off that toilet or else my daughter would be born in it. She came out fast with red hair and in the caul, and those were very nice surprises.

— Kristin Howard O’Malley

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