Midwifery Today, Issue 94, Summer 2010

Issue 94: Birth Is a Human Rights Issue
Theme: Birth Is a Human Rights Issue
Cover photo by Philip McCormick

The theme of Midwifery Today Issue 94 is Birth Is a Human Rights Issue. Whether it’s questioning the overblown use of synthetic oxytocin, challenging the accepted view that planned hospital births are safer than planned homebirths, or exposing the disparity between rich and poor nations in terms of maternal and infant mortality rates, this issue tackles the idea that every Motherbaby has the right to be treated with reverence and respect during the birth process.


Poetry: How Natural Birth Touches My Heart
Lara Fairy Love
From the Editor: Birth in 2050
Jan Tritten
Tricks of the Trade
Marion’s Message: Family Planning and Safe Motherhood
Marion Toepke McLean
Media Reviews
Classified Advertising
Photo Album


Vicki Penwell
Author Vicki Penwell delves into one of the world’s greatest injustices: While a mother dies during childbirth every minute of every day, only 1% of these deaths occur in the developed world.
Sister MorningStar
Humans are instinctual creatures, writes Sister MorningStar in this potent essay on the issue of birth rights. “Disturbed, the bodily functions of an instinctual animal will stop,” MorningStar writes. “Humans deserve the right to birth in their natural environment where they feel safe and with their own ‘kind.’”
Robbie Davis-Floyd, Debra Pascali-Bonaro, Rae Davies and Rodolfo Gomez Ponce de Leon
This article outlines the 10 steps developed by the International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative to help ensure that women everywhere are guaranteed the basic human right of humane and evidence-based maternity care.
Newborn Group B Strep: Top 10 Reasons Not to Culture at 36 Weeks
Judy Slome Cohain
In a smart twist of logic, author Judy Slome Cohain tells us why there’s no need to culture for newborn GBS at 36 weeks. Reason No. 2? Studies have shown that GBS cultures are not reliable for even 24 hours.
A Matter of Maternal Malnutrition? Explaining Stillbirth/Neonatal Death Rates in Developing Nations
Lisa Fehr
This article investigates potential reasons for the staggering stillbirth/neonatal death rates in developing countries and suggests maternal malnutrition may be to blame.
From Hospital to Home
Lisa Landen Thompson
Having learned from her “traditional American hospital birth,” a mother plans an at-home waterbirth and finds a midwife who makes her feel “important, respected and cared for.”
Shedding Light on Maternal Mortality
Courtney Stange-Tregear
The notion that, until we see through the oppressive forces that obscure the issue of safe birth for all women and babies, we won’t be able to think of birth as a human rights issue is at the heart of this essay.
April Bailey Weaver
A midwife tells the tale of a couple who gave birth under a full moon, in a tide pool ringed by black lava and white coral stones on Hawaii’s Kona Coast.
If I Were the Baby—Questioning the Widespread Use of Synthetic Oxytocin
Michel Odent
Birth expert Michel Odent explores the scientific data collected on the most common intervention in childbirth—the use of synthetic oxytocin to start labor—and concludes that doctors “would be wise to make labor induction an exceptionally rare practice.”
The “Miracle” of Induction
Alicia Kaye
After watching her mother grapple through a Pitocin/Cytotec induced birth, the author starts her quest to find a better, more natural way of birthing.
Pushing Through: A Tale of Homebirth after Cesarean
Johanna Trobough
Devastated by an unnecessary c-section, the author finds peace with her second birth: an unhurried home waterbirth attended by a midwife and doula.
Medical Progress in 2110? A Parody
Kirsten Cordes
Moved by the thought that we should birth our children as we conceive them, a mother wonders what might happen if, 100 years from now, we conceive our children as we birth them—in a starkly lit hospital, monitors strapped on and specialists at the ready.
Dear Rose
Gloria Lemay
In this simple yet touching tale, midwife Gloria Lemay remembers a birth she attended by penning a letter to the baby, Rose, who is now a full-grown young woman.
The Dangers of Planned Hospital Births
Judy Slome Cohain
Midwife and researcher Judy Slome Cohain dissects currently available published research and finds that hospital birth is never safer than a planned, attended homebirth for low-risk women.
Benjamin’s Waterbirth
Rhonda Shaw
After two hospital births, a mother finds herself drawn to a home waterbirth.
An Afternoon with Marsden
Sheryl Rivett
An intimate portrait of a legend in the birth field, Dr. Marsden Wagner.
Learning to Listen
Sandra Stine Tallbear
Women are being undermined in subtle, yet important ways inside the typical American labor and delivery ward, concludes certified nurse-midwife Sandra Stine Tallbear in this succinct essay about learning to truly listen to a mother’s needs.
Reclaiming Every Woman’s Birth Right
Sarah Buckley
Reprinted from Dr. Sarah Buckley’s new book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, this article calls for a rethinking of birth—from seeing birth as a medical procedure to viewing it as a powerful, central facet of family life.
Facing Fears, Embracing Birth
Teresa Field
A labor and delivery nurse who has delivered four children at the hospital, finds herself with a whole new perspective on birth after facing her fears and birthing her fifth child at home.
Breaking the Law: Midwives and Civil Disobedience
Sarah Jean Carter
A brief history of midwives who have resisted unjust laws and continued to practice their craft, despite the threat of persecution.
Brewer Babies
Marlene Waechter
Confounded by a client who has already birthed several handicapped children, midwife Marlene Waechter utilizes the wisdom of Dr. Tom Brewer and finds that diet really does make a drastic difference to pregnant mamas and their babies.

International Midwife

Marva Zohar
After five years working in the birth field, a new midwife encounters her first brush with death. This vividly told story highlights the stark reality for midwives working in the developing world.
The New Generation of Rincoeño
Vivienne Miranda
A new mother recounts her homebirth, attended by Puerto Rico’s last traditional midwife, Ruth “Ruli” Delgado, who recently retired after more than 30 years and 400 babies.
Brazilian Love Rebels: Bringing Awareness and Consciousness to a Birth-broken Nation
Ana Paula Markel
Native Brazilian author Ana Paula Markel attends a birth conference in Brazil and finds a group of “Brazilian love rebels” leading a social revolution that questions unnecessary medical interventions and embraces empowered birth.
One Trip around the Sun
Ryan Phillips
A father retells the story of his family’s year in India leading up to the birth of his second son, Shepherd Ketan.
Shasti Ma
Janet Chawla
Discover Shasti Ma, an Indian goddess of childbirth, in this lovely, mythical tale.
Cards & Letters