Midwifery Today, Issue 99, Autumn 2011

Issue 99: The Role of Story in Birth
Theme: The Role of Story in Birth
Cover photo by Michele Anderson
Pinkle Toes Photography

The theme of Midwifery Today Issue 99 is The Role of Story in Birth. A good birth story has the power to inspire, educate and entertain. Yet, the role story plays in birth goes well beyond the telling of our personal tales. Stories and storytelling “are fundamental to the development and maintenance of a woman-centered body of knowledge.” This issue takes you inside the experiences of birthing mothers and dancing midwives, considers the impact of the negative birth story and offers tips for starting your own birth story circle. Clinical articles on intrauterine infections and shoulder dystocia, and a special series on midwifing stillbirths are also included.


Poetry: Home Birth
Arielle Greenberg
From the Editor: Global Midwifery Council
Jan Tritten
Read about how Midwifery Today conferences inspired the birth of the Global Midwifery Council (GMC), a new grassroots organization that aspires “to change the paradigm of birth around the world.”
Tricks of the Trade
Marion’s Message: Herstory: Human Rights in Childbearing
Marion Toepke McLean
Marion reflects on stories and historical documents that have helped to shape the rights of childbearing women in the last half-century, and considers what we can do now protect those rights in the future.
Media Reviews
Classified Advertising
Photo Album


Sister MorningStar
Contributing editor Sister MorningStar recounts the magical, sacred home waterbirth of her newest grandchild, Sophie.
Sharing Stories, Reclaiming Birth Knowledge
Rachel Reed
An Australian educator and midwife argues for a body of midwifery knowledge that is “distinct, different and equally (if not more) valuable” than the technocratic approach that dominates modern obstetric care.
Thank You, Elvis
Wendy Freeze
How many women can say they gave birth during a 24-hour Elvis marathon? Author Wendy Freeze recounts the humorous and life-changing story of her first birth.
Daughter of a Midwife
Treska Lydia Stein
The 15-year-old author recounts her firsthand experiences “being with women,” as the daughter of a midwife.
It Matters How We’re Born
Gail Hart
The memories of birth will last a lifetime, for both mother and baby. As this article reminds us, women’s choices regarding how and where they birth do matter.
Why the Negative Birth Story?
Rina Crane
Alongside inspiring and empowering stories of birth come negative stories of pain, scary interventions and unexpected outcomes. While it’s important to honor all stories, doula Rina Crane considers how we can all work “to help make the positive birth story the only one there is to tell.”
When the Womb Is No Longer Safe: Chorioamnionitis
Valerie Hall
Intrauterine infections contribute to a host of complications during pregnancy and labor. “This article investigates current ideas about prevention, diagnosis and treatment from a midwifery point of view.”
Postmaturity: Accelerate Birth or Wait?
Samara Ferrara
An excerpt from Midwifery Today’s upcoming clinical booklet on postdates and postmaturity, this article evaluates why “most ‘postdate pregnancies’ are treated as postmature,” and considers what midwives can do to help their clients prevent harmful interventions.
Precipitous Twin Homebirth
Veronica Lacquement
A surrogate mom to twins tells the tale of their quick, healthy homebirth.
United We Stand, Divided We Fall—The Impact of Gossip on the Midwifery Community
Erika Obert
A midwife from the Midwest shares her thoughts on how divisive behaviors in the midwifery community can impact care, and why midwives need to work together to overcome gossip and competition.
Accepting Love without Perfection: The Roles of Grandmothers and Postpartum Doulas
Vicky York
The roles of grandma and the postpartum doula are often ill-defined, and can be challenging to balance with the immediate needs of a new mom and baby. Author Vicky York discovers that with a little effort and patience, doulas and grandmas can work together. After all, there’s nothing quite like grandma’s love.
The Value of Sharing Story
Molly Remer
Personal sharing through story is often discouraged in the medical professions, but a good story, well-told, can enrich the relationship between birth professionals and their clients.
KaRa Maria Ananda
Who are the Birthtellers and why are they so important to preserving normal, safe birth? Are you one? Learn more about the importance of stories and how to tell a good one in this informative and engaging article.
Dancing Stories
Robin Gray-Reed
In this poetic article, the author uncovers the grace and gratitude present in a moment shared amongst midwives, dancing their stories.
Shoulder Dystocia—The Perils and Possibilities
Sister MorningStar
“As a midwife, you must find, or help the mother and baby to create, an open path where one does not exist. How will you do that?” This article offers new insights and suggestions to help you manage shoulder dystocia with confident and tender care.
Beautiful Beginnings—Short Birth Stories from Midwifery Today Readers
Stillbirth Series
Tara Shah, Tammi L. McKinley, Bonnie Gruenberg and Liz Collins
Despite the conscious efforts of parents and care providers, some healthy pregnancies don’t turn out the way we expect they will. In this special series on stillbirths, Tara Shah takes you on the emotional journey of her healthy pregnancy gone tragically wrong. Midwives Tammi L. McKinley and Bonnie Gruenberg offer practical tools and resources to support midwives attending a stillbirth, and Liz Collins reflects on the touching beauty of all births in her poem, “Amaya.”
Midwives and Story: Passing on the Wisdom
Candace Whitridge Palmo
Motorcycles, art and ecstasy inform this touching trio of birth stories.
How Storytelling Affects Labor
Toni Rakestraw
What are women thinking during labor? Contributor Toni Rakestraw shares the internal narratives that impacted her deliveries, and how her midwives helped her through them.

International Midwife

From the Roddom to the Black Sea: My Experiences in Russia
Miriam Medicine Prayer
A traditional midwife recounts her journeys to a newly post-soviet Russia, taking us on a tour of a changing birth culture, from the Roddoms of the cold war era to pioneering birth camps at the Black Sea.
Laxmi Tamang
Read how a group of dedicated nurses in Nepal formed the country’s first midwifery organization, and what it is doing to improve birth for Nepal’s largely rural population.
Childbirth in Eldoret, Kenya
Mary McRae, with Sarah McRae
Join author Mary McRae as she explores the landscapes and people of Kenya in her mission to support safe birth.
Did the Earth Move You? Lessons from the Christchurch Earthquake
Lorna Davies
How prepared is your birthing community to provide care in the wake of a natural disaster? Lorna Davies takes you back to the days following New Zealand’s Christchurch earthquake, uncovering some insightful answers.
Female Empowerment and the Traditional Midwives of India
Soma Mukhopadhyay
A researcher reflects on her 15-year of study of rural India’s traditional dai, much loved by the families they serve, and widely misunderstood.
Cards & Letters