July 30, 2014
Volume 16, Issue 16
Midwifery Today E-News
“International Edition”
Print Page

Welcome to Midwifery Today E-News !

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Mexican Art Expresses the Joy of Birth

Put excitement on your walls with four colorful Mexican art prints celebrating birth and midwifery. These lively creations also make wonderful gifts. See all the prints here.

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In This Week’s Issue

Attend the full-day Shoulder Dystocia and “Malpresentations” workshop with Tine Greve and Gail Hart

AU conferenceIn Part 1 of this two-part class you will hear about the mechanical and physical causes of shoulder dystocia; the associated risk factors; symptoms and signs to predict it; and tools to remedy it. Tine and Gail will also analyze tools and methods used to overcome panic reactions and demonstrate effective treatments. Part 2 will give you an in-depth look at malpresentations and mal-rotations; their likelihood and causes; palpation methods to identify them and the techniques for assessing and dealing with them.

Learn more about the Byron Bay, Australia, conference.

Quote of the Week

Change your thoughts and you change your world.

Norman Vincent Peale, minister, author and progenitor of positive thinking

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The Art of Midwifery

In the maternity unit at the Pithiviers hospital in France, we used to meet around the piano and sing together on Tuesday nights, pregnant women, young mothers and newborn babies, midwives, cleaning ladies, secretaries, etc., could join the group. After singing, and often dancing, there was an atmosphere of happiness and even euphoria. Such sessions were probably more beneficial for the growth and the development of the fetuses than would be a series of sophisticated ultrasound scans or a Doppler screening of placental perfusion.

Michel Odent
Excerpted from “Eat Sardines, Be Happy…and Sing!” in Birth Wisdom from Michel Odent, 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 mtensubmit@midwiferytoday.com.

Send submissions, inquiries, and responses to newsletter items to: mtensubmit@midwiferytoday.com.

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Editor’s Corner


I recently attended the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) conference with over 3700 midwives from many different countries in the beautiful city of Prague. It was exciting to be with so many wonderful midwives. There were hundreds of papers presented in breakouts, many poster sessions and some great general sessions, as well as many meetings both formal and informal. Here is the conference website.

Toyin Ojora Saraki from Africa, a keynote speaker at the conference said, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” To me, this statement embodies ICM’s goal of midwives working together. I also thoroughly enjoyed hearing Lisa Kane Low’s talk about access and improving care and outcomes for women and their families.

While I was at the conference, I met a lovely midwife from Papua New Guinea. She told me stories about her country and the difficulties of midwifery in such rough terrain, so I shared with her the technique of using the cord, membranes or placenta for hemorrhage control. This trick of using what is within a mom’s own body can be effective at saving women around the world.

It is always nice to renew friendships. I was able to reconnect with MANA and ACNM midwives, who had booths in the exhibit hall. These midwives are working so hard for mothers and babies all over the world; seeing them gave me so much hope that we will achieve our goal of bettering maternal and infant mortality and morbidity, that we will change birth practices for the better. The next ICM conference is in Toronto, Canada. I hope to see you there!

— 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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Conference Chatter

Greetings everyone! It’s been a few months since I’ve written a piece for our conference corner as we were hard at work bringing you two back-to-back conferences in Harrisburg, PA, and Bury St. Edmunds, UK. We’re happy to say that both of them went smashingly!

Now we’re back home and getting our Byron Bay, Australia, conference set up for this November 4–9, 2014. We’re so thrilled to bring you such a wonderful array of classes and teachers in such an amazing location! Our venue will be only a few blocks from the spectacular Byron Bay beach. I highly suggest you check out this amazing seaside town.

The theme of the Australia conference, “Promoting Midwifery: Skills from Around the World,” also fits in perfectly with this issue of E-News. We have planned workshops on a diverse array of topics, including such international subjects as: Creating Viable Midwifery Systems in the Developing World, Promoting Midwifery: Skills from Around the World, Mexican Traditions and Techniques, and Changing Birth Worldwide. There are classes by local Australian birthworkers as well as American, Mexican, Danish, New Zealander and Cherokee speakers. On Friday during the conference, we’ll also be showing a film at lunchtime that perfectly encapsulates this international theme. The film, A World of Birthworkers by Jenny Blyth, honors and celebrates the lives of traditional and autonomous birthworkers in 10 different countries. We’re very excited to have it shown at our conference, and we know you will enjoy it!

Please visit our website if you’d like to find out more about the Australia conference and other upcoming conferences.

And be sure to “like” us on Facebook!

Many Blessings,
Andrea Straw
Conference Coordinator, Midwifery Today

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Country Contact Reports

Question: What are some of the alternative birth remedies you have learned from the indigenous people of your country?


I live and work in India. One of the best remedies to decrease hypertension in pregnant women is moringa leaves and garlic. Moringa leaves have a high calcium content and we know that regulation of calcium channels is essential to regulate blood pressure. A handful of washed moringa leaves plus a clove of garlic is boiled and then steeped in a liter of water. This is strained and then drunk throughout the day on a daily basis. We have had fantastic results with women who have borderline increases in blood pressure in their pregnancy. We also encourage women who have had a previous history of pregnancy-induced hypertension to start drinking this concoction when they are between 20 and 24 weeks pregnant. I have found it to be almost 100% effective in keeping their blood pressure within normal limits.

Vijaya Krishnan

In the villages of Rajasthan, the dais, who are midwives that grew up learning midwifery from their moms, grannies or neighbors, keep the cord attached and heat the placenta if the baby is not breathing or has distress with respiration. This treatment usually remedies the problem.

Turmeric is sometimes used for healing, especially for cesarean scars, but this is not a common medical treatment.

Lina Duncan

Argentina and Chile

Chilco tea, sipped during labour, gives courage when the labouring mom is having a long labour, doubts or complaints. Chilco can also be used in tinctures. This is a trick from the Patagonia natives of Argentina and Chile.

Marina Lembo

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Indonesia and the Philippines

To answer this question, I would love to introduce you to a botanical friend that was first introduced to me by my Lola (Filipino grandmother), Vicenta Munar Lim. She lived from 1888 to 1985. She was a hilot (traditional midwife) in the mountains of Luzon.

The following information comes from my book: Obat Asli…the Healing Herbs of Bali. This wise-woman herb is commonly used in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Moringa oleifera is a thin, gum-containing, deciduous tree with small, round, pungent leaves. The bark is corky. Small pale yellow flowers are somewhat honey scented and ribbed pods yield oily seeds. It is easily grown in gardens and found wild; it is not particular about soil or conditions. Moringa oleifera is a galactagogue, as well as a nutritional, anticonvulsive treatment for rheumatism. It is also analgesic and the fruit is an aphrodisiac; it contains vitamin A and is anti-asthmatic.

The leaves are very nutritious and mineral-rich and enjoyed by pregnant women in Indonesia and the Philippines to boost nutrition.

Caution: The root is an emmenagogue and abortifacient and should not be taken by women in early pregnancy.

Robin Lim

Grand Bahama

I am responding from Grand Bahama of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

Birth here is highly interventive. The government requires that birth only takes place in two public hospitals: Princess Margaret in Nassau, New Providence, or The Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport on Grand Bahama. Women from the other 29 inhabited family islands must come to either Nassau or Freeport at 34 weeks gestation so they can birth in one of the two public hospitals. There is no alternative care in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The midwives are employed by the government hospital authority (they have neither autonomy nor independence) and must follow physician-prescribed protocols.

The only alternative to the paternalistic obstetrical system that rules here is our birth doula practice, which embraces the practices of Midwifery Today and Lamaze International. Read more about the doula practice here.

There is no indigenous practice in the Bahamas, but there is a blending of Haitian folklore and Bahamian myth (e.g., breast milk burns a baby’s skin; once the baby is delivered, placental blood becomes instantly poisonous; one must not hold a newborn too much because he/she will become spoiled; formula is best; etc.).

Mary DeLashmutt

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Featured Article

Mercy In Action Midwives Form Disaster Response to Deadly Super Typhoon

“I think all of the midwives are dead!” This is what a distraught husband told his laboring wife the day after super typhoon Haiyan devastated the coast of Leyte Island in the Philippines. So although our own homes and birth center had been badly damaged by the severe flooding on Luzon Island the month before, my daughter-in-law Rose said, “Vic, we have to go help.” I knew it was true, so on very short notice and with no designated funding or much time to prepare, we headed down to ground zero of what weathermen are calling the largest storm to ever make landfall.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that there are currently 230,000 pregnant women in the typhoon-affected areas while 835 women are giving birth every day with very limited access to midwifery or emergency obstetric care. The midwives aren’t all dead, but the ones who survived saw their equipment washed away, their clinics and birth centers smashed into rubble and their own homes destroyed. In addition, many of them lost loved ones and are struggling with deep grief and emotional shock. The midwives who only lost roofs and had minimal other damages were serving birthing women as soon as they could. The area, however, was already deficient in proper maternity care services before the storm hit.

And so, during the last week of November, the midwives of Mercy In Action loaded our ambulance with half the stock of supplies and equipment in our birth center, along with half of our midwives, and we headed down to the disaster zone. It took 36 hours of driving and ferrying to arrive, but when we did, we went right to work. The devastation in the disaster zone was unimaginable. Identifying and feeding the pregnant and lactating survivors was our first priority. We set up a tent city in order to provide maternity services and medical care. Soon we were delivering babies day and night and seeing over 100 medical patients a day. Along with normal and complicated deliveries, we cleaned and sutured wounds, treated infections, gave antibiotics and tetanus shots and made ambulance runs to the Doctors Without Borders tent hospital in the capital city an hour away when something was beyond our ability. During one particularly busy week, 22 babies were born within 6 days. Our birth tent hosted the birth of a set of surprise twins, a footling breech and many premature babies (we used kangaroo care to help the little ones). Hemorrhages and high blood pressure were a constant—a legacy of the storm that left every woman weakened, half-starved and with an impaired immune system.

Vicki Penwell
Excerpted from “Mercy In Action Midwives Form Disaster Response to Deadly Super Typhoon,” Midwifery Today, Issue 109
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Friday, August 15, 9 am to 5 pm
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Website Update

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

  • Birth and the Human Future—by Marion Toepke McLean

    Midwife Marion Toepke McLean discusses an interesting topic: How does our way of birth affect future generations? Excerpt: “Lack of a healthy immune system may produce inflammation-based chronic diseases, as well as allergies and auto-immune disorders. Cesarean babies and babies who lack early contact with their mothers have been noted to have an increased incidence of these conditions…. I have organized a one-day workshop called Birth and the Human Future to share this information and to discuss its importance to childbirth practices. The workshop will be held … just a couple miles from my home on August 15, 2014.”

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