May 7, 2014
Volume 16, Issue 10
Midwifery Today E-News
“Maternal-Infant Bonding”
Print Page

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In How Will I Be Born? Jean Sutton explains the principles of optimal fetal positioning in a clear and straightforward manner. Written for expectant parents, this book is packed with helpful advice and information, including an informative chapter on posterior position. A must-read for all pregnant moms and a book for the practitioner’s lending library. To order

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In This Week’s Issue

UK conferenceMidwifery Today is coming to the UK

“Midwives Hold the Future” is the theme of the conference which will be held in Bury St. Edmunds, UK, 26–30 May 2014. Planned teachers include Michel Odent (pictured), Beverley Lawrence Beech, Robbie Davis-Floyd, Betty-Anne Daviss, Gail Hart, Sally Kelly and Sara Wickham.

We must receive your registration in the office by 12 May. After that, you may register at the door. Learn more about the Bury St. Edmunds, UK, conference.

AU conferenceJoin us in Australia

Plan now to attend “Promoting Midwifery: Skills from Around the World” in Byron Bay, Australia, this November. You’ll be able to learn from a great line-up of teachers including Robbie Davis-Floyd, Gail Tully, Sister MorningStar, Sarah Buckley, Carol Gautschi and Gail Tully. Planned sessions include Promoting Optimal Fetal Positioning, Breech, Shoulder Dystocia and “Malpresentations” as well as a two-day Midwifery Issues and Skills class.

Learn more about the Byron Bay, Australia, conference.

Quote of the Week

A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.

Victor Hugo

Do you like what you’re reading? You’ll get even more content when you subscribe to our quarterly print magazine, Midwifery Today. Subscribe here.

The Art of Midwifery

That first hour or two, skin-to-skin connection with mother and baby is so vital. Baby has felt liquid for about nine months, and now skin is so very important. A quiet, oxytocin-flowing environment, with everyone using their voice as little as possible except for mom talking with baby, is the goal.

Jan Tritten
Excerpted from “Fourth Stage of Labor and Midwifery,” Midwifery Today, Issue 102
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In Memoriam: Marsden Wagner

WAGNER130 (4K)We at Midwifery Today fondly remember Marsden Wagner upon receiving news that he passed away last week. He was 84. Marsden was a well-loved speaker at Midwifery Today conferences for many years, and was a contributing author to Midwifery Today magazine. A perinatologist, author of several books and father of four, he was director of Women’s and Children’s Health in the World Health Organization for 15 years. Please see his biography on our site, which includes links to all of his Midwifery Today magazine articles online, here.

Editor’s Corner


I remember the birth of LilyAnn like it was yesterday. Her naked squirmy body was placed on my belly, and that was the greatest feeling I had ever felt. After two-and-a-half hours of pushing, I could finally feel her on my skin. The next little bit is a blur, and then my memory jumps to an image of me in a hospital gown and sitting up in a hospital bed with a large tray of hospital food in front of me. I wanted to eat all of it, but none of it. I looked across the room and saw my mom and my husband bathing my new baby girl. I was filled with so much joy at thinking how wonderful it was that they were getting to share such a special moment together. I didn’t realize at the time how important those first hours are for a mom and her baby. I later learned through the birth of my second daughter how important it is for mothers not to be separated from their babies so the bonding process can fully take place. With my little Adalyn’s homebirth, she never left my side. We all snuggled on the bed with her and fell in love. I even got to take her first bath with her in our bathtub over an hour later.

I was very overwhelmed by the demands of motherhood the first time around. When LilyAnn woke me in the middle of the night to nurse, I was grumpy and flustered and I just wanted to sleep. With Adalyn, however, I would wake multiple times in the night and was overjoyed with my ability to care for her.

I truly believe the bonding I experienced with Adalyn made me a more capable mom. I realize it was my second time around, and experience does help, but it sure was a lot easier mentally, emotionally and physically to transition into new motherhood after having experienced a very precious and extended bonding time with my daughter.

— Nancy Halseide, managing editor for Midwifery Today

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Conference Chatter

The Midwifery Today office is buzzing with excitement over the upcoming UK conference. Some of us will be together with some of you in Bury St. Edmunds for five wonderful days, 26–30 May 2014.

The teaching roster list includes Suzanne Colson, Jane Evans, Gail Tully, Sara Wickham, Robbie Davis-Floyd and others—what an amazing group of people! There is still room to join us and we would love to meet you in England. Visit us on the web for more information.

— Nancy Halseide

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Featured Article

First Hours after Birth

The drama after birth sometimes unfolds with comments like these from the mother: “I did it! I did it! I can’t believe I did it!” “Oh my, is that our baby?” “What is it—a boy or girl?” “Is she all right?” “She doesn’t look like a baby!” “Look at her little hands, and her feet!” “We made her!” “She’s so big!” “Look, she has your dimple!” We’ve all heard these outbursts of joy and relief right after the baby comes out, sometimes among kisses, tears of joy and exhaustion or happy laughter.

We’ve also all heard expressions of exhaustion and relief from the mother and seen a temporary lack of interest in her baby. The exclamations might sound more like these: “It’s over! I can’t believe it’s over!” “Can I just lie here for a minute?” “I can’t hold the baby right now. You take it.” “Please just leave me alone right now.” “I’m so glad it’s over.” “We’re never doing this again!” Sometimes it takes a while before the mother can turn her attention from the intensity of the birth to her baby.

The mother may respond in silence and stillness, moaning a bit as tears flow or crying from relief, joy, exhaustion or simply waiting for the next feelings to come as she holds her baby on her chest; feeling him, but not yet really looking at him.

Regardless of how the drama unfolds, the mother’s reaction is correct. Once the intense experience of labor and birth is over, whether ecstatic, triumphant, tedious, disappointing, exhausting or traumatic, she may need time to internalize the reality that she is no longer in labor—it is over and she has her baby. We should trust that her reactions after the birth are correct for her and are the result of a lifetime of experiences, her current circumstances and the nature of this birth experience. No woman should be rushed to hold and suckle her baby any more than she should be rushed to get into labor, dilate her cervix, push her baby and placenta out or latch the baby onto her breast. Nor should her ability to mother her baby be judged by how she responds in these moments.

Penny Simkin
Excerpted from “First Hours after Birth: Family Integration and Mutual Regulation,” Midwifery Today, Issue 102
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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.

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Website Update

Read this article excerpt from the Spring issue of Midwifery Today magazine, now on our website:

  • Motherbaby Placenta: State of Emergency—by Robin Lim

    A very emotional and powerful story about the recent Typhoon that ravaged the Philippines and how Robin Lim and her team helped mothers and families in the aftermath.

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Birth Q&A

Q: How do you protect the first hour after birth so mom and baby can bond?

— Midwifery Today

A: I leave the cord intact and quietly do other post-birth chores, such as documenting, packing up birth equipment, reading or crocheting. I like to be within earshot so that the peacefully bonding pair and family know I’m nearby in case I’m needed. By leaving mama and baby connected and together in their quiet and safe space, bonding unfolds beautifully.

— Erica Andrews

A: Before I retired from midwifery here in the Philippines, I found that the Asian model of bonding worked well. Usually the whole family was involved in the birth, and grandma or auntie or daddy held the baby while mommy was tended to. (The most frequent complication in the Philippines is hemorrhage.) We also usually had perineal issues to deal with as our tiny Filipina moms tended to tear. My personal opinion is that midwives need to be sensitive to the medical needs of the mom and baby and not make the bonding time a hard and fast rule. It’s okay to play catch-up. In the meantime, if mommy is busy with the midwives, the rest of the family can enjoy baby. Sadly, homebirth is now illegal in the Philippines and midwives are not allowed to do them.

— Denie Heppner

A: We were always taught to leave the room. I like to leave and do my charting knowing that mom can call out to the next room if something comes up. Sometimes it’s a challenge to get people out of the room.

— Mary Bernabe

A: No hatting, chatting or patting.

— Carla Hartley

A: I could write 500 words to give the same excellent advice that Carla Hartley gave with five: No hatting, chatting or patting.

— Gail Hart

A: I tend to leave cords intact as long as I can, while encouraging skin-to-skin contact. Many of my clients are very shy and modest about showing their body (Anabaptist and other conservative Christians), so as soon as I am assured baby and mom are stable, I leave the room to start the clean-up and to fill out birth certificate worksheets, leaving them to nurse and bond in privacy. I tell them to holler at me when they start having placenta-expulsion contractions. Of course, most of the time the lights are dim for the labor/birth and it stays this way during the postpartum time. I use a headlamp to light my immediate work-space, while leaving the ambiance of the room dim and relaxing. I do the newborn exam next to mom on the bed, floor, couch—wherever mom happens to be.

— Marlene Waechter

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