Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I hope 2009 is filled with joy, the love of family, and the smiles of good friends! I also hope it is filled with humane, respectful care for women and families during the childbearing year. And, I hope that 2009 welcomes the legalization of CPMs in the states working towards this during the 2009 legislative session.

One of my resolutions this year is to increase the number of birth classes I teach. I also resolve to seek more varying opportunities to raise community awareness about healthy birth (more of a "birth network" approach). If you have a birth-related New Year's resolution, I'd love to hear about it!

Happy New Year!

Molly Remer
CfM Blogger
(P.S. I'm going to start signing my posts, as they're being automatically imported from this blog into several Facebook pages now and it can get confusing about who is writing them! :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

All I Want for Christmas... to the see the maternity care system in our country experience wide reform. I also want women everywhere to have the choice of a midwife-attended birth if they want it. And, I want women to have access to good quality information about their options and choices in birth. And, I want women, babies, and families to be treated with respect and tenderness in the birth environment, wherever and however the birth happens to be.

With regard to my first Christmas want, I wanted to share a link to the statement from Childbirth Connection about Health Care Reform Priorities for Maternity Care.

And, with regard to my second and third Christmas wants I would like to share links to some excellent blog posts at the Independent Childbirth blog. The first is Happy New Year ACOG and the other two are about How We Are Born Matters and The Home Birth Experience.

Finally, with regard to my final Christmas want, I want to share a link I received today to a segment on a local television station about homebirth and midwifery in Missouri. It was a two-part story. The news anchors do make a comment about needing collaborative practice with physicians and at the end about "if the situation was to become life-threatening..." but overall it is an extremely positive piece and a really moving one (I cried when the baby was born!). The first clip and transcript can be found here and the second here.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Grassroots Network: Jennifer Block's LA Times Op Ed on Health Care Reform!

Dear Friends,

Just in time for the Holidays, the LA Times has published an Op Ed piece by Jennifer Block with her take on health care reform (i.e., maternity care reform). Read her article Midwives Deliver. As always, very well written and to the point, you may find this useful for meetings, legislators, etc.!

Happy Holidays to all of you!

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Note from Molly: If you haven't already read Block's book, Pushed, I hope you get it for Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Homebirthing Discussion on "The Artist's Craft"

Just got a link to this interesting segment about home birth and midwifery legislation on the NC television show The Artist's Craft. It features Jennifer Block (Pushed) and Russ Fawcett (North Carolina Friends of Midwives).

Check it out!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Birth films + free e-book

Yesterday, I learned about an interesting new film called Home Delivery: The Adventure of Giving Birth at Home. I am also looking forward to watching an Australia film called The Big Stretch.

Speaking of films, Pregnant in America is now available to buy on DVD and so is Orgasmic Birth!

I was also excited to find out that Sherri Menelli's book Journey Into Motherhood: Inspirational Stories of Natural Birthis available now as a free e-book. I downloaded my copy right away and I'm looking forward to reading it. I learned about this offer from the Hypnobabies blog.

Speaking of Hypnobabies, they've recently started selling their home-study program on Amazon. You can also find their Hypno-Doula Workbook there as well as a Hypnosis for an Easy Pregnancy CD set.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Literary Magazine Exhale + Developments in IL

My term as a Board member has now come to an end, though I will continue on as the CfM blogger. CfM's new Board member and newsletter editor, Arielle Greenberg, is a writer and poetry professor. A brief article by Arielle about her experiences traveling out of state to give birth with a legal CPM was published this week here. Arielle is also a columnist for the online literary magazine Exhale ("for intelligent people who have lost a baby, or have trouble making babies in the first place"). This magazine is an important new resource for families and I wanted to make sure to bring it to your attention!

Exciting news from Illinois this week in that the Illinois Nurses Association officially changed its position on the "Home Birth Safety Act" from Oppose to Neutral! The Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing already moved to Support several months ago.

From the Illinois Nurses Association: "the INA has changed its position from oppose to neutral because they feel the current proposal adequately protects the public, including sound education and certification requirements, and does allow women to choose to have a licensed certified midwife to provide prenatal and childbirth services in their homes."

You can read more about what is going on in IL on the new Illinois Families for Midwifery blog.

Also in IL, I've been reading up on a recent case in which a woman filed a civil suit against her obstetrican regarding his treatment of her during her labor and birth. Originally in the Chicago Tribune, you can read all of the disturbing details of the OB's treatment of this woman on the Unnecesarean blog.

Scottish Article

From comes an interesting article, "Pregnant women are urged to give birth at home." I was fascinated to read this article and am so very struck by the differences in attitude toward homebirth compared to in the U.S.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Grassroots Network: ACTION ALERT for Birth Centers

Dear Friends,

I know we are all really busy, but below is a really important ACTION ALERT from the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) to help Birth Centers. Your 3 phone calls are a gift you can give to mothers and families that costs you nothing more than a few moments of your time.

Read AABC’s Alert below for very straightforward instructions. Phone calls are needed before December 22. Make your calls even if you have nothing to do with Birth Centers support this midwife/mother friendly option for all women.

Some background: Birth centers around the country are owned and staffed by all kinds of midwives, and are one place where CPMs and CNMs frequently work together. Birth Centers provide an excellent alternative to the hospital setting and should be available to everyone. Medicaid does not specifically cover birth centers, so even where the midwife professional services are covered, there is no mandate to cover the "facility fee" the costs of the birth center itself, and insurance coverage typically follows Medicaid rules. Some state medicaid programs have opted to cover this cost, but recent actions at the federal level threaten this coverage because birth centers are not specifically named in the relevant federal statute. Without medicaid and insurance coverage for birth center facility fees, most if not all birth centers will be unable to continue operation, depriving all of us of this option. The only solution is to get federal legislation to specifically include birth centers in medicaid. This is the effort that the American Association of Birth Centers is spearheading; the first step is to get Senators and Representatives to sponsor the bill AABC is developing. ALL of us are needed to help achieve this goal! For more detailed background information, see the link in AABC’s Legislative Alert message below.

When you call your Congress people, do tell them that you are a mom/midwife/doula/etc., and you can say that birth centers are a vital birthing option to which all women should have access. (If you work/own/birthed at a birthing center, great, tell them that, but you don't need to have had a birthing center experience to support this action.)

Read AABC’s ALERT below, and make your 3 brief calls today!

Arielle Greenberg Bywater and Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

American Association of Birth Centers
Legislative Alert

URGENT - Make Calls before December 22nd!

We are making progress with education of the House and Senate about the need to add the birth center facility to Medicaid covered services! But, many Representatives and Senators have not yet had a call from you or your clients. We must have sponsors from both parties! We are also targeting key people who will vote YES or NO whether our bill will get out of committee and to the floor -- once we have introduced the bill.

For background information click here

Please make calls to congressional health staffers this week before the holiday recess!

1. Click here to get the names and phone numbers of the Washington D.C. offices of your two Senators and your Representative.

2. Ask the name of the healthcare staffer and ask to speak to them.

3. Write down their name and phone number.

4. Tell them you own/direct/work at/are a consumer of/care about the services of a birth center.

5. Tell them that a bill will be introduced soon to add birth centers to Medicaid. [NOTE: the bill does not yet have a bill number.]

6. Ask for their support and sponsorship of our bill to add birth centers to Medicaid. That's all you need to say--we'll do the rest.

7. Then call or email AABC's lobbyist Karen Fennell (301-830-3910, or me (423-253-4455, to tell us what they said. We will follow up.

NOTE: We do not have a bill number because it is not yet introduced, but we want to introduce the bill in January and need sponsors now. We can send them the draft bill language if they are interested in sponsoring the bill.

This is urgent if we want to sustain birth centers in the United States. Please call today.

Please pass this on to your Friends of the Birth Center groups and ask them to call too.


Jill Alliman, CNM, MSN
Legislative Chair
American Association of Birth Centers

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Advocacy Tools from Other Organizations

A couple of links came to my attention this week with regard to legislative advocacy tools from other organizations.

From AWHONN (Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses), there is a new Legislative Handbook available. (Do be aware that AWHONN isn’t homebirth friendly.) "The new and improved Legislative Handbook is now available online at the AWHONN website. This resource provides you with helpful information to understand how the government works and advocacy tips for both the state and federal levels. This is now available to anyone, so feel free to share it with fellow AWHONN leaders, members, or colleagues."

Click here to access the new handbook.

Families USA: The Voice for Health Care Consumers also seems to have a wealth of tools available online for advocates.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fathers at Birth

Yesterday, I was very excited to learn about a new book called Fathers at Birth. I'm definitely looking forward to reading it, as I think it fills a very specific and valuable need. As a childbirth educator, I have a special interest in fathers at birth and I'm hoping to learn a lot more from this book and to pick up good ideas to pass along to others.

The author opens the book with a "taxicab delivery story" in which she briefly tells the classic story of a mother having a baby in the back of a taxi. She then goes on to say:

"So why am I telling this story? Everyone has heard a version of it, and no one wants to consider a taxi delivery as an option for birth. But what does it have to do with you, a father-to-be? Just like the driver, an expectant father is already equipped to attend his partner during childbirth (emphasis mine); the secret is switching modes. The driver has to shift out of his angst and habitual way of thinking so he can see and respond to the situation as it is. Not how he wants it to be. He has to show up and play it as it lays. In this story, the driver and the woman discover their capacity beyond the edge. While neither wants a taxi delivery, when push comes to shove, they immerse themselves, and they succeed."

Can't wait to read the whole thing!

Speaking of fathers at birth, I posted here before about the upcoming documentary The Other Side of the Glass that explores fathers' experiences of childbirth.

Couples planning homebirths may wish to look into the new film Homebirth Dads, that I reviewed for the fall issue of CfM News. The filmmaker was interviewed this week on the Hypnobabies radio show and you can click here to hear the interview

And finally, no post about fathers at birth would be complete without a reference to a classic book for fathers and other birth support people: The Birth Partner, by Penny Simkin. This book was released in a new edition earlier this year.

CNM Statistics

The American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) recently released their statistics for CNM attended births (CNMs attended 7.4% of all births in the U.S., 97% of those births were in hospital settings).

Motherlode blog

From Susan Hodges:

Yesterday the New York Times "Motherlode" blog included "Orgasms During Childbirth?" which has 395 comments as I write (i.e., in less than 24 hours). Very interesting to see the range of responses, the attitudes that are out there... Feel free to comment; it would be great to keep the positive and open-minded comments coming to balance the other remarks…

Thursday, December 11, 2008

20/20 Segment Postponed

From BOLD:

January 2nd date likely

"Well, we spoke too soon. 20/20's Orgasmic Birth segment just got bumped from this Friday night due to the Governor of Illinois' emerging political scandal. According to Debra Pascali-Bonaro, filmmaker of Orgasmic Birth, 20/20 is pretty certain the segment will air on January 2nd.

Who said being BOLD was easy? But one thing we know for sure - Orgasmic Birth will be worth the wait! Pleasure always is..."

You can still click here to visit the 20/20 website and share your comments on this topic!

Pre-Term Cesarean Birth Article

There was an op-ed piece by a health insurance executive in the Dec. 5th edition of the New Jersey Times called Pre-term Cesarean Birth. The article is a good look at the problems with elective cesarean before term.

A quote:

"Whatever the reason that women have elective C-sections before full term, it's bad for the baby. Recent research reveals that newborns delivered prior to 39 weeks are twice as likely to end up in the NICU than babies born at 39 to 42 weeks. "

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Health Care Forums

The Obama transition team is planning to hold health care discussions/meetings across the country. Read about this here. We encourage birth/midwifery advocates to be part of the meetings in their communities, or to consider hosting a forum themselves if there is not one in the area already.

It is important to continue to strive to bring maternity care issues to public awareness!

Orgasmic Birth on ABC 20-20 this Friday at 10 PM EST

Orgasmic Birth will be a featured segment on ABC-TV's "20/20" this Friday December 12, at 10 PM Eastern Time

Visit the ABC website to read more about Orgasmic Birth and share your comments on the film.

"Joyous, sensuous and revolutionary, Orgasmic Birth brings the ultimate challenge to our cultural myths by inviting viewers to see the emotional, spiritual, and physical heights attainable through birth. Witness the passion as birth is revealed as an integral part of woman's sexuality and a neglected human right. With commentary by Christiane Northrup, MD, and midwives Ina May Gaskin, Elizabeth Davis and other experts in the field . . . and stunning moments of women in the ecstatic release of childbirth."

For other posts I've made about this film, check here.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Recent Articles of Interest

I can hardly keep up with all of the articles and media coverage related to birth, maternity care, and midwifery in recent weeks! I decided to put everything together into one post:

Birthing the Old-Fashioned Way (from the Mommy Files--lots of comments, many negative or ill-informed).

Midwives see renewed interest in natural births (from the Billings Gazette)

More Young Women Opting To Schedule C-Section Births (From the Hartford Courant. This article comes across in favor of scheduled c-sections and as the person who sent the link to me said, "[responding to this article] is an excellent opportunity for us to raise awareness about the bias towards medical birth and how difficult it is for women to have a normal, "unpushed," birth in our local hospitals. If ever there was a time to make some noise - this is it!")

Would You Give Birth At Home? (Syndicated article)

MOMS Returns to Salone
(MOMS = Midwives on a Mission of Service)

On Nov. 20, The Today Show aired a segment about doulas that was negative in many ways and left the doula community feeling disappointed. DONA International responded to the segment with a helpful media kit and encouraged doulas to send press releases to their own local media contacts to correct misinformation in the segment, as well as to raise awareness of doulas throughout the country.

A follow-up article called Expecting parents: What is a doula? is available on The Today Show site.

A week prior to this coverage, Nicole Kidman made very positive reference on the Oprah show to having a doula :) (there is a bit more about this here.)

Additionally the New Space Birth Center in NYC has an interesting new blog.

A few older items of interest:

Midwives speak on birthing (from the Yale Daily News about midwives speaking to college-age women)

ICAN Responds to the Coalition for Childbirth Autonomy's Statement on the Cesarean Rate

Birth by the Numbers (In Birth by the Numbers, Eugene R. Declercq, PhD, Professor of Maternal and Child Health, Boston University School of Public Health, presents the sobering statistics of birth in the United States today.
"Early in the film, he says 'one thousand' when he means 'one million' regarding number of cesareans, as you can see the 7-digit sum in the background when he talks about it. Other than this mistake, the content is excellent! Enjoy!")

Monday, December 1, 2008

Grassroots Network: Support CfM with Amazon purchases

Dear Friends,

Hope you are enjoying the beginning of a peaceful and fulfilling holiday season!

We wanted to remind you that if Amazon purchases are on your holiday lists, you can support Citizens for Midwifery and all of our ongoing advocacy work by accessing Amazon through the CfM website. Your purchases cost the same and happen the same way, with the bonus that Amazon donates a small percentage of all purchases made through the CfM website to CfM!

Just go to (or, alternatively, scroll to the bottom of CfM's home page and click on the Amazon button). Type in the search term for whatever you want to buy into the little box on the Amazon banner, and you will be automatically bounced over to Amazon's site with CfM recognized as the referring agent, then shop as normal for as many items as you want to order. It's that easy!

And please spread the word, especially if Amazon items are on your OWN holiday wish lists.

Thanks, and happy holidays!
Arielle Greenberg Bywater and Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Note from Molly: There is also a search box for Amazon on the lower right hand side of this blog! :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What are we thankful for?

This morning I woke up reflecting that we have a lot to be thankful for within the birth world. I'm thankful for:

Natural birth pioneers and writers like Michel Odent, Sheila Kitzinger, Penny Simkin, Ina May Gaskin, Elisabeth Bing, and so many, many more who have devoted so much of their lives to this work.

The Coalition for Improving Maternity Care Services (CIMS), which has worked so tirelessly to encourage mother-friendly care in all birth settings and to spread evidence-based information about healthy maternity care.

Doula training organizations such as DONA, CAPPA, and ALACE, which have trained so many compassionate, skillful, passionate labor support professionals.

Childbirth educators like the wonderful women at Independent Childbirth

Statewide consumer groups like Friends of Missouri Midwives and Ohio Families for Safe Birth that are so dedicated to helping women in their states have access to skilled midwifery care.

My involvement with Citizens for Midwifery, the only nationwide consumer organization devoted to promoting midwifery and making the midwives model of care a reality around the country.

Mothering Magazine, a trusted resource, helpful "friend," and inspiring read regarding all elements of natural family living.

BOLD (Birth, The Play), which lends such a creative spark to public awareness of maternity care issues with its theater for social change model of birth activism.

Devoted birth bloggers like Birth Activist and Woman to Woman CBE and Enjoy Birth and Giving Birth with Confidence.

Midwives like Maria Iorillo and the countless other midwives out there who are "with women" day after day.

Books like Pushed and Our Bodies, Ourselves Guide to Pregnancy & Birth (and also recent treasures like Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart)

Choices in Childbirth and their most fabulous Guide to a Healthy Birth.

Childbirth Connection which has promoted safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care for all women and families since 1918 and offers a treasure trove of wonderful publications free on their wesbite.

Women's courage as they follow their intuition and give birth at home.

I know there are so many more organizations, people, and resources for which to be thankful. What are you thankful for in the birthing community?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Grassroots Network: Tell Obama about Midwives Model of Care!

Dear Friends,

If you haven’t heard yet, President-Elect Obama has invited YOU to tell him what you’d like to see in health care reform.

Thank you to everyone who has brought this to our attention!

Read about Obaman’s propososals for health care here. Click on the paragraph under "Present Your Ideas." This will take you to an online form you can use to offer your ideas on health care to the new administration.

You can urge the administration to support increased access to midwives and to take a look at the Midwives Model of Care page on CfM's website ( Issues that could be brought up: The need for accountability for outcomes and costs in maternity care; the need for transparency so women can find out accurate information about the practices of maternity care providers; the need to address disparities in access to care and effectiveness of care. A policy for evidence-based practices in maternity care, including the Midwives Model of Care, would help to address these issues. We also encourage you to suggest that the new administration implement the recommendations of Childbirth Connection's "Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Accomplish." This will bring this comprehensive policy report to their attention.

The more the campaign hears from us about the problems in maternity care and the SOLUTIONS, the better!

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Grassroots Network: Attorneys still looking for VBAC ban victims

Dear Friends,

This is a repeat of a previous GRN message: Attorneys looking for VBAC ban victims. The search is still on, so please forward this to anyone you know that might be interested.

As you are likely aware, many women are denied access to VBAC (Vaginal birth after cesarean) because of hospital policies and outright bans. Attorneys with the Northwest Women's Law Center in Seattle are looking at this issue. One of them asked us to post the following:

"I'm a lawyer with the Northwest Women's Law Center in Seattle. I'm
investigating possible legal responses to bans on vaginal birth after
cesarean at hospitals in the northwest states - Alaska, Idaho, Montana,
Washington and Oregon. If you are currently pregnant and want to have a
VBAC, but are facing a hospital policy that would require you to have a
c-section regardless of whether you want it and whether it is medically
necessary, and are willing to consider working with a lawyer on this, we'd like to talk with you. Please email us at Our services
will be provided free of charge."

Even if you are not in one of the states listed, you can still help by emailing this out to any email lists you are on and asking everyone who receives it to email it to all the lists THEY are on as well so that it is distributed far and wide. Thanks.

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Friday, November 21, 2008

The more things change...

Re: attention paid to obstetrics:

"Learned societies have invited lectures and discussions upon its practice and teaching, and committees have been set up by the government for the purpose of investigating maternal and infant mortality. Medical journals have published a vast amount of literature concerning the abnormalities and complications of childbirth, while the lay press rarely misses an opportunity to bring before the public any information upon the subject that can be gleaned from the transactions of the societies and associations of the medical profession. Vast improvement has resulted in both knowledge and technique, but, unhappily statistics have not shown a relatively pronounced advance upon those of 10 or 15 years ago...But it is generally agreed upon that one of the most important factors in the production of a complicated labor, and therefore of maternal and infant mortality, is the inability of obstetricians to stand by and allow the natural and uninterrupted course of labor. It may be an excess of zeal, or anxiety born of ignorance, but it is an unquestionable fact that interference is still one of the greatest dangers with which both mother and child have to contend."

While the above could have been written today, it is actually from the preface to the classic Childbirth Without Fear by natural birth pioneer Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, penned in 1933! Though I'm familiar with his work, I've just begun reading the book for the first time.

In the introduction, the OB who edited the newer edition of the book says that from Dick-Read he learned the dictum, "Tense doctor = tense patient = tense cervix." Timeless wisdom!

Also in the preface, Dick-Read says, "Thousands of women today have had their babies born under modern humanitarian conditions--they are the first to disclaim any knowledge of the beauties of childbirth..."

On the heels of reading this, I read a birth story in which the mother rested comfortably after the second attempt at an epidural. She was playing solitaire on her cell phone while contracting away and then was surprised and be happy to be told she was complete and could push. Besides the obvious irony of the game she was playing, I know very well that this story is repeated countless times around the country every day and I feel a sense of grief over what has been lost :(

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Unnecesarean Website

New on the birth activism scene is a powerful new website dedicated to the "unnecesarean" (unnecessary cesarean). The site includes a good section about avoiding an unnecesarean.

Friday, November 14, 2008

More Articles in Unexpected Places

After enjoying the New York Times article about homebirth this week, I wanted to post about a couple of other articles that popped up in unexpected places for me this month.

The first is an article called Industrial Childbirth that was published in Adbusters. The concluding paragraph is particularly powerful:

"I wish that we talked about it. That we could stop reveling in horror stories and better place our fingers on the reason for our traumatic births – not the curse of Eve medicated to by our benevolent system – but the systematic violence that delivers our babies for fear that we might give birth to them ourselves. For in the process we might begin to understand our own strength and find words for our anger. We might begin to disobey."

Speaking of difficult births, there was also a brief article on this subject in Ode Magazine this month. I was very surprised to see it there, but less surprised to see that it was by Jennifer Block! It is a very short piece in the "Ode to Possibilities" section of the magazine. The piece is about midwives coming to help in Sri Lanka post-tsunami. The midwife quoted says, "Midwives are leaders in their communities, they're the women we trust, they lead us through transition in our lives...They are these things to women all over the world." The article ends with the classic sentiment, "peace on earth begins with birth." According to a search, the article is available online, but when I go to the link it is down. I'm including it here anyway, in case it starts to work!

I've long enjoyed Ode magazine, it is one of my favorites among non-birth related publications. So, I love to see birth getting some attention in its pages.

It is VERY exciting to me to see birth issues touched on in publications like this--birth activists have always know that *birth matters* and it is good to see public confirmation that it does. Birth issues don't need to only be discussed in birth-related publications, they belong everywhere--Ode, Adbusters, the NYT. This is great!

Another unexpected article popped up in my Google Alerts for birth a couple of weeks ago and I've been meaning to post about it since then. The article itself is about the "the truth about Heath Ledger's women." However, what caught my eye in this article were the quotes about birth by the late actor:

"For man, birth is the realisation that you're just a hopeless, useless specimen of life and witnessing this innate, primal strength within women can be such an intimidating experience,"

"When you come out of the birthing experience, you actually have a better understanding of how and why men have over-compensated in society by creating battles and wars and steroids, and why they go to the gym. It's because we want to be strong and tough, and we're not. And it's this endless quest to kind of find this strength that can equal women's. Experiencing those nine months with Michelle was incredibly humbling, and I just relinquish all kinds of respect and power to her. She's incredible."

They article also says that they "opted for a natural birth with a doula, a non-medical assistant."

When I read things like the above, I wonder how society would change if more men had the experience of viewing their partners in this way...

Grassroots Network: MEAC Needs Our Help!

Dear Friends,

This is a beautiful opportunity for you to help midwifery!

The letter below is from national organizations that are directly related to promoting midwifery, and especially direct entry midwifery, in a variety of ways, and you can see that Citizens for Midwifery is right in the list. The letter below explains the situation.

In the midst of hard times in the economy, which are affecting all of us, MEAC seriously needs financial help at this time, as the letter explains. Please make a donation of whatever size you are able. Our help at this time will make a real and positive difference for midwifery education. Make checks payable to MEAC, POB 984, LaConner, WA 98257. I know, everyone is asking for contributions at this time of year. This is a one-time request. Midwifery in the US cannot afford to let anything happen to MEAC's official recognition.

This is one of the only times a Grassroots Message will include any requests for donations. Thank you for any donation you can make!

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Allied Midwifery Organizations

October 2008

Dear Friend of the Allied Midwifery Organizations,

MEAC needs our help!

MEAC is the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council. MEAC promotes excellence in midwifery education by supporting and accrediting midwifery schools around the country that prepare midwives for national certification as CPMs. MEAC is doing exciting, groundbreaking, and vital work for our midwifery movement. Just this month, the Milbank Memorial Fund, a non-partisan institute devoted to health policy analysis, issued a new report titled, "Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve." The report cites data from the landmark study of CPMs published in 2005 and concludes:

The low CPM rates of intervention are benchmarks for what the majority of childbearing women and babies who are in good health might achieve.

MEAC currently accredits eight free-standing institutions and two programs that reside within universities, providing excellent midwifery education for more than 500 matriculating students.

Why does MEAC need our help now?

This year, the U. S. Secretary of Education deferred a decision to extend recognition of MEAC, requesting that MEAC provide evidence of a stronger financial and volunteer base. It is ESSENTIAL that MEAC satisfies the requirements to continue its recognition by the USED. This appeal to you hopes to accomplish two things:

1. Increase the capacity of MEAC's Reserve Fund to cover one year's operating budget ($120,000).

2. Demonstrate to the USED that MEAC has a strong base of support that can be called upon to respond swiftly and effectively in a time of need.

Please help us in this one-time capital campaign. We have come so far in the last decade. We can't let it slip away. Your support is crucial and so much appreciated at this time! Please give generously. Large donations of $500-$1,000 will provide significant support. Smaller donations will help, step-by-step, to achieve this goal. We can do this together- it is an investment in our future!

Sincerely Yours,

The Leadership of the Allied Midwifery Organizations

*Donations to MEAC are tax deductible!
Make checks payable to MEAC, POB 984, LaConner, WA 98257,

Grassroots Network: Home Birth Article in The New York Times

Dear Friends,

The rumors turned out to be true! The New York Times, the nation's paper of record, published a long article on home birth in yesterday's edition. It's available online here. (You must register for free to access the whole article.)

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the article is that the reporter, Julie Scelfo, writes about the increased interest in home birth of late, confirming the sense that we all have in the birthing community. She writes that, "local [NYC] midwives...have been swamped with calls and requests in recent months, in some cases increasing their workload from two, three or four deliveries a month to as many as 10," that one local childbirth education center is seeing twice as many couples planning home birth as they did six months ago, and that ", one of the biggest online purveyors of birthing pools...said its sales have doubled since last year." Also, that "the increase is coming not so much from the dyed-in-the-wool back-to-nature types as from professionals like lawyers and bankers."

The piece is pretty fair-minded, focusing on the increased interest in home birth in NYC, with attention given to both the risks and benefits of home birth; there's also a good deal of space given to the supposed problems of birthing in a small New York City apartment, with neighbors and thin walls and such (although the article goes on at length about these issues, none of the families interviewed report actually having problems with neighbors or mess, etc.).

Let's keep working for midwifery and home birth so that women all across this country can choose the safe option of home birth with a licensed midwife for their families.

Arielle Greenberg Bywater and Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Grassroots Network: March of Dimes "report card" on prematurity

Dear Friends,

Take a look at the March of Dimes map that grades most states in the US a D or E when it comes to prematurity. While the March of Dimes does not specifically mention any role for midwives, this is great ammunition to support increased access to midwives in and out of the hospital for their superior prenatal care and fewer inductions and cesarean sections.

Read the article below, and visit You can sign a petition urging the Federal Government to support research on prematurity, increase access to prenatal care, and calls on "… hospitals and health care professionals to voluntarily assess c-sections and inductions that occur prior to 39 weeks gestation to ensure consistency with professional guidelines."

This is just a baby step, but the March of Dimes is a very big organization. Let’s let the March of Dimes know that we appreciate their work, and ask them to support midwives and the Midwives Model of Care as a way of improving prenatal care and decreasing cesarean sections!

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Report urges states to tackle preterm birth crisis

By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard, Ap Medical Writer Wed Nov 12, 7:39 am ET

WASHINGTON The odds of having a premature baby are lowest in Vermont and highest in Mississippi. The March of Dimes mapped the stark state-by-state disparities in what it called a "report card" on prematurity Wednesday to track progress toward meeting a federal goal of lowering preterm births.

There's not much chance of meeting that goal by the original 2010 deadline, if the "D" grade the charity bestowed on the nation is any indication.

More than half a million U.S. babies one in every eight are born premature each year, a toll that's risen steadily for two decades. The government's goal: No more than 7.6 percent of babies born before completion of the 37th week of pregnancy.

Preterm birth can affect any mother-to-be, stressed a recent U.S. Surgeon General's meeting on the problem. Scientists don't understand all the complex causes.

But Wednesday's report highlights big geographic differences that March of Dimes president Dr. Jennifer Howse called "a dash of cold water."

In Vermont, 9 percent of babies were preemies in 2005, the latest available data. In Oregon and Connecticut, just under 10.5 percent of babies were premature.

Travel south, and prematurity steadily worsens: In West Virginia, 14.4 percent of babies were preemies; more than 15 percent in Kentucky and South Carolina; more than 16 percent in Alabama and Louisiana; and a high of 18.8 percent in Mississippi.

The report urges states to address three factors that play a role:
_Lack of insurance, which translates into missed or late prenatal care. In states with the highest prematurity rates, at least one in five women of childbearing age are uninsured. Early prenatal care can identify risks for preterm labor and sometimes lower them.
_Smoking increases the risks of prematurity, low birthweight and birth defects. Government figures suggest 17 percent of women smoke during pregnancy. The new report urged targeting smoking by all women of childbearing age. About a third of those women smoke in Louisiana and West Virginia, the report says, compared with 9.3 percent and 11 percent in Utah and California, respectively.
_Then there's the trickier issue of so-called late preemies, babies born between 34 and 37 weeks. They're fueling the nation's prematurity rise. While not as devastating as a baby born months early, being even a few weeks early can cause learning or behavioral delays and other problems. And recent research suggests at least some near-term babies are due to Caesarean sections scheduled before full-term, either deliberately or because of confusion about the fetus's exact age.

Howse urged hospitals to double-check that women given an early C-section truly need one for a medical problem, as current health guidelines recommend.
March of Dimes:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Articles About Midwives, Postpartum, & Breastfeeding

Earlier this week, an article came to my attention on the USPharmD website (for people interested in earning their Doctor of Pharmacology degree). The article is called "100+ Essential Online Resources for Midwives" and is a really comprehensive listing! I was pleased to see Citizens for Midwifery on the list :)

Speaking of interesting articles, I also read a very good one called "Mothering Our Mothers." The focus is on caring for women postpartum and what women need during that vulnerable time (to be "mothered" as they learn to mother).

As a related side note, I read in Leaven (LLL Leader journal) this month that in Russia, the law is that children can be brought to their mothers in the workplace to breastfeed every three hours until they are three years old! Fantastic. I could hardly believe it. The article went on to say that many women do not have anyone available to bring their child to them every three hours though and so most wean when going back to work. In another contrast to the US, the article also said that Russian doctors to not allow the distribution of free formula packs in hospitals.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fear & Birth

Since it is Halloween today, I wanted to post about fear and birth. I encounter a lot of women who are very scared of birth, particularly of the pain of birth. Grantly Dick-Read's Fear-Tension-Pain cycle has influenced the teachings of most natural birth educators and most people readily connect to the idea that fear leads to elevated tension in body which leads to increased pain.

One of my favorite birth books, Birthing from Within, has several sections about coping with fear. The author's idea is that by naming fears and looking them in the eye rather than denying they exist, you shift your thinking from frozen, fear-based, thoughts to more fluid, adaptable coping-mechanisms. There is a useful handout based on her ideas available at the Transition to Parenthood site.

I also thought of this quote from Jennifer Block:

"Why is it that the very things that cause birth related morbidity rates to rise are seen as the 'safe' way to go? Why aren’t women and their doctors terrified of the chemicals that are dripped into their spines and veins—the same substances that have been shown to lead to more c-sections?” Why aren’t they worried about the harm these drugs might be doing to the future health of their children, as some studies are indicating might be the case? Why aren’t they afraid of picking up drug-resistant staphylococcus infections in the hospital? And why, of all things, aren’t women terrified of being cut open?"

I was afraid of these things, which is part of why I didn't go to a hospital to have my babies!

I hope some day all women will be able to greet birth with confidence and joy, instead of fear and anxiety. This does NOT mean denying the possibility of interventions or that cesareans can save lives. Indeed, I just read a relevant quote in the textbook Childbirth Education: Research, Practice, & Theory: "...if women trust their ability to give birth, cesarean birth is not viewed as a failure but as a sophisticated intervention in response to their bodies' protection of the baby."

I have much more I could say on this topic, but it is time to put my little sugar-wild children to bed. Happy Halloween!

CfM's Annual Meeting

This year, Citizens for Midwifery will hold its annual meeting in Rolla, MO and any and all interested birth activists are welcome to join us!

FoMM/MMA's very own Mary Ueland and Debbie Smithey have been nominated to receive the annual Susan Hodges award for excellence in consumer activism and that will be given during the public portion of the annual meeting.

This year our Annual Membership Meeting, including the election of members of the Board of Directors, will be held in Rolla, Missouri, on Saturday, November 8, 2008, from 1-2 pm, followed by a Gathering with other birth activists in the area from 2-4pm. The CfM Board members will be meeting in person throughout the weekend.

Location: These meetings will be held at Baymont Inn and Suites, 1801 Martin Springs Drive in Rolla, Missouri. Hotel phone: 573-364-7000.

Our Annual Meeting affords us the chance to review the past year and look ahead to the coming years – your questions and ideas are important! This is a great opportunity to meet with and talk to CfM’s Board of Directors in person. And of course we’ll count the ballots for the election of Board Members for the next year

Following the Annual Membership Meeting, a Birth Activist Gathering will bring together CfM members with Friends of Missouri Midwives and anyone else who is interested, including other consumer activists, midwives, and other birth professionals. CfM will give a brief presentation about our current work and projects, including our response to the AMA Resolution, an open discussion about "what’s next in MO" and how CfM can help, and how we can work together to sustain birth advocacy. This event is free and light refreshments will be served.

Please RSVP to if you plan to attend the meetings. CfM’s Board of Directors looks forward to hearing from many of you, and even seeing some of you in November!

Please pass this message along to other interested persons or organizations (including activists in our neighboring states of IL and KS, if you have contacts there).

Mark your calendars! I hope to see you there.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Giving Birth in Place

While most women in the U.S. plan to give birth in hospitals, it makes sense for all women to prepare for the possibility of giving birth out-of-the hospital due to unforeseen circumstances of any type. This is referred to as "giving birth in place."

The American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) has an interesting and useful pdf handout available on their website about giving birth in place--basically, being prepared to have a baby wherever and whenever you happen to be.

Midwifery advocates have shared concerns for some time that during a pandemic illness, or natural disaster, or military conflict, women need to have access to out-of-hospital care providers (like CPMs), because in these kinds of emergency situations hospitals are not the most appropriate or accessible settings for pregnant women to be in.

ACNM has a variety of "Share with Women" handouts available on their site. These are a great resource about a range of topics, presented in a simple, easy-to-follow format.

Grassroots Network: New Infant Mortality Stats & Comparisons, and C-section death in Boston

Dear Friends,

A maternal death resulting from a cesarean section was reported in Boston, a very sad event. You can read a report here.

This event and the report are a reminder that women are 4 times as likely to die in connection with a cesarean compared to the risk of death with a vaginal birth. Another reason the work for changes in maternity care.

The CDC has just issued a new report: “Recent Trends in Infant Mortality in the United States” which you can find here. The report includes many bar graphs, and includes international comparisons, demonstrating the US’s poor standing. You can also read the excellent New York Times article on this report.

After reading these, all I can think about is how widespread use of the Midwives Model of Care would result in more healthy, living mothers and more healthy, full term, full weight living infants…

Susan Hodges “gatekeeper”

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Homebirth Coloring Book

For some time, I've been meaning to post that North Carolina Homebirth has a free pdf coloring book for kids available on their website called There's a New Baby in My House.

This is a nice resource for families planning homebirths. It can be difficulty to find books or other children's materials that present out-of-hospital birth options.


Teen Dating Violence Webinar

You Are Invited to A Special Online Preview of
The 2009 Teen Dating Violence Prevention Campaign

Please join Cindy Dyer of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) and Esta Soler of the Family Violence Prevention Fund for an informative web event on teen dating violence.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008
11:00 AM ET

OVW’s upcoming prevention campaign, launching in early 2009, will address teen dating violence. This web conference will review the research shaping the new campaign, including qualitative research on social norms and dating behaviors among teens. It also will include an overview of the elements of the innovative new campaign.

You must REGISTER if you are planning to participate in this web conference, co-hosted by the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. The number of participants is limited, so be sure to register now! A toll-free telephone number and webinar link will be sent to you via email after you register.

The presentation will be available on and following the web conference

Friday, October 17, 2008

New Midwifery Fact Sheet from CfM!

Citizens for Midwifery has prepared another summary fact sheet based on the Evidence Basis for the 10 Steps of Mother-Friendly Care (an extensive analysis that was published by Lamaze last year). This new fact sheet highlights the evidence regarding access to midwifery care and out-of-hospital birth.

Earlier this year, CfM and BirthNetwork National partnered to prepare a two page fact sheet summarizing the highlights from entire Evidence Basis document.

All of these documents are great resources and the fact sheets make good conference table handouts!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Labor of Love

Last week I finished a review copy of Cara Muhlhahn's brand new midwifery memoir, Labor of Love. Cara is the CNM who was featured in The Business of Being Born. I will review this book in more depth for the spring issue of CfM News. This book was an engaging and fast-paced read, though very different than Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart, the other midwife's memoir I recently finished.

I wanted to share a quote I enjoyed:

"Although homebirth is an option for almost anyone who has a normal pregnancy, I have noticed that the subgroup of women who tend to choose it often exhibit certain characteristics, such as comfort within their own bodies, a desire to have a birth experience that is more poetic than clinical, as well as a desire to return what we all feel is some seriously missing humanity to the experience of having a baby. Often, women who choose homebirth have an ability to step into a completely new experience without being held back by excessive fear or anxiety. This ability proceeds from a view of childbirth as a natural, physiological event, not a medically mediated one. Many midwives recognize the value of a birthing mother's own mom having birthed successfully. Story after story reveals that daughters of women who gave birth vaginally or breastfed, bring a certain inner confidence to childbirth that is handed down from the mother's experience. Imagine the rare gem of a woman who was actually born at home."

Well, I'm one of those "rare gems" :-D I was born at home in the 70's (my mom had all four of her children at home) and breastfed for about 14 months. She had read Spiritual Midwifery and everything. Occasionally, she expresses dismay and surprise that the issues that she also cared about as a young, childbearing women are still struggling so mightily today--she thought it would have all been fixed by now and that women would not still have have such difficulty accessing midwifery care or choosing homebirth.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Birth Violence & Birth Consumerism

Following my post from last week about Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which led me to consider the violence women may experience in the birth place, I came across some relevant quotes in the book Giving Birth by Sheila Kitzinger. The book is an older one (late 80's), but the quotes are strikingly on target for birth issues today:

"We are only now discovering the long-term destructive effect on human beings and families of treating women as if they were merely containers, to be opened and relieved of their contents; and of concentrating attention on a bag of muscle and a birth canal, rather than relating to, and caring for, the person to whom they belong. The violence which is a common element in childbirth today leaves many women feeling that birth has been a kind of rape. This sort of experience is not easily forgotten. It can shatter a woman's self-confidence, make her doubt her ability to mother her baby, destroy joy in the expression of her sexuality, and attack her very sense of self--the roots of her identity. It is psychologically mutilating."

I have posted before about birth as a consumer issue. CfM is the consumer organization dedicated to promoting the midwives model of care. Interestingly, this book takes a different angle on this than I have before:

"Increasingly, obstetricians have been forced by pressure from women to aim to 'satisfy the consumer,' as if they were running a supermarket...But a fundamental change in attitude is necessary. Women, after all, are not 'consumers.' They are producers. They give birth to babies. The commercial model is an unsuitable one. We need instead to develop a model of care based on a sense of community of service to support the natural process of birth and respond to women's needs."

I'd say this is a need filled by the midwives model of care!

Another interesting quote from this book is with regard to "old wives' tales."

"'Old wives' tales,' says the Oxford dictionary, are 'trivial stories, such as are told by garrulous old women.' It is significant that no one ever talks about 'old husbands' tales' or 'old doctors' tales.' Women are blamed instead. It is implied that there is poison in their speech and that the only safe thing to do is remain silent. The experiences that women share with other women are thus rejected and trivialized...In reality, it is not other women who instill and fuel anxiety in most pregnant women, but the medical system itself."

I think we should start to acknowledge the existence of "old doctors' tales." I've certainly heard a number of them!

A final quote from this book that feels relevant, "a good obstetrician works much better when he or she can work with the mother and not just on her."

Grassroots Network: "Choose a Midwife" postage stamps

Dear Friends,

This was posted this week on a list I'm on, and I thought you'd be interested!

Mon Oct 6, 2008 10:51 pm (PDT)
"Stamps are a simple way of making a statement. Now, with the launch of
midwifery-themed postage stamps, supporters of midwives can send their
message across the country: 'Choose a Midwife.' The American College of
Nurse-Midwives is unveiling the new stamps in conjunction with National
Midwifery Week, October 5-11. Stamps are available for purchase online."

I have not checked out these stamps yet myself, but one person commented: "A rather brilliant bit of public relations on the part of ACNM. Check out these cool stamps. And only one of the four images is ACNM-specific. The other say "choose a midwife." Great photos, too.I am very impressed. I've got my Christmas card stamps now."

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Grassroots Network: Talk about Health Care Reform on radio talk shows!

Dear Friends,

Families USA has compiled a lot of information about participating and speaking up on radio talk shows, about health care reform. Whatever your leanings, you can use these resources to make opportunities to speak up about the role midwives could and should have in ANY plan for health care reform!

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

From Families USA:

I don't have to tell you that the health of our nation and our economy
depend on meaningful health care reform.

Far too many people are being left behind due to high costs and limited
access to quality affordable health care. Reform simply has to be the
top domestic priority of the next Administration and Congress.

With the elections only one month away, let's take this message to the

We've created an online resource that lists radio talk shows where you
can make your voice heard on the need for health care reform. The
resource includes call-in information for over 40 nationally syndicated
and regional shows as well as numerous local shows in select states.
Eventually we plan to expand our list of local talk shows to more states.

Conservatives have spent years amplifying their message through talk
radio, and it has proven to be highly effective. But if we want a
progressive solution to the health care crisis, we'll need to take the
airwaves back.

So call in and make your voice heard. Talk about how you are facing
rising costs in a sinking economy, too many of your friends and
neighbors have inadequate coverage or no coverage at all, or have faced
unfair denials due to pre-existing conditions, and so on. Urge listeners
to get involved, speak up, and take action to make sure health care is a
top priority for the next President and the next Congress.

Thank you,

Jeff Gordon
Field Director


Visit the web address below to tell your friends to Stand Up for Health

If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for Families
USA <>.

Families USA | 1201 New York Ave., NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20005 <> |

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Grassroots Network: Milbank Report on Evidence-Based Maternity Care

Dear Friends,

I have just received the e-mail below from Carol Sakala of Childbirth Connection announcing the release of this new Milbank Report. I've only glanced through, and it looks like it will be a gold mine of data and figures to make the case for maternity care reforms, in addition to its analyses and policy recommendations!

The authors are Carol Sakala and Maureen Corey, senior staff at Childbirth Connection.

The entire 128-page report is on the Childbirth Connection website, free! Do read it!

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"

Dear Friends,

I am writing to announce the release today of a new report, Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve.

The report takes stock of the U.S. maternity care system, identifies many opportunities for improving the quality, outcomes, and value of maternity care, and presents policy recommendations. It was developed through a collaboration among Childbirth Connection, the Reforming States Group, and the Milbank Memorial Fund.

For access to the report, please go here
(this appears within a new section on our website, Maternity Quality Matters).

The report was covered in two articles in today's USA Today:

Consumer Reports also posted an article and a quiz.

We would be grateful for your help in alerting colleagues to the availability of Evidence-Based Maternity Care.

Best wishes,

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic violence was the first social justice cause in my life that I became deeply committed to. Though I haven't worked in battered women's shelters in quite a few years now, and the focus in my life has become birth activism, I still care a great deal about family violence prevention--which, obviously, is tied strongly into why I care so much about healthy, respectful, humane births for women and babies! Violence against women is a public health issue.

Three women each day in the U.S. are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends and 500 women each day are raped or sexually assaulted. Knowing this, I can't help but wonder why the AMA finds it worthwhile to target homebirth and issue a resolution against homebirth. It seems more logical to issue a "resolution against marriage" or "a resolution against having a boyfriend."

In the fall 2007 issue of CfM News, Susan Hodges had a sidebar in my article (Domestic Violence During Pregnancy) about violence against women in medical settings. Given that October is domestic violence awareness month, I wanted to share a quote from her sidebar:

"While the situation is different from domestic violence in some ways, it is also similar. Abuse in the medical setting is also about power and control, the pregnant or laboring woman is often blamed for her situation, and verbal and emotional abuse can be similar. Because we are taught to “trust your doctor”, and in fact there is an explicit assumption of trust in the “fiduciary relationship” between the woman and her doctor who is an “expert”, most of us do not think about the possibility of abuse, and many of us stay with the OB or feel we have no choice about our health care providers or settings, especially when we are in labor. Also, the doctors and staff generally are not even aware that their behavior or actions are abusive."

I get an informative e-newsletter called Speaking Up from the Family Violence Prevention Fund (On a related side note, when their supplies are in stock, this organization also provides free due-date calculator wheels that are printed with domestic violence screening questions as a reminder to maternity care providers to ask their clients about DV). I wanted to share some information from this last newsletter:

"October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) and across the country, advocates are joining health care providers, business leaders, policy makers, faith-based groups, college students and others at events and activities designed to educate the public about domestic and sexual violence. Events include national campaigns, statewide activities and community events."

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 1,200 deaths and two million injuries to women from intimate partner violence each year.

• According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, on average three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the United States. Women are 84 percent of spouse abuse victims, 86 percent of victims of abuse at the hands of a boyfriend or girlfriend, and three in four victims of family violence.

• Almost 500 (483) women are raped or sexually assaulted each day, on average, in the United States. [U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics]"

Monday, September 29, 2008

Birth Film Thoughts

At the end of the week, I posted about the Orgasmic Birth film screening I went to (and shared my reservations about the title) and also posted about MANA 2008 conference blog. In a convenient coincidence, as I later scrolled through the conference blog I found that they actually addressed the title issue as by quoting from a newspaper article about the title of the film:

"First, she announced her working title, "An Ordinary Miracle: Global Models of Care."

Sit back down, they told her.

Then she tried "Ecstatic Birth." Still not good enough.

Finally, a friend Pascali-Bonaro had brought along for support whispered an idea in her ear. "Just go for it," she urged.

The fledgling filmmaker stood up and announced:

"Orgasmic Birth!"

Now they were interested." (see original article)

Though my reservations about "fringiness" still stand, I do understand the publicity maneuver of the titling choice.

And, can I just say again how very much I enjoyed this film. It has really lingered with me and I find myself referencing it in conversation. I've also had some great conversations prompted by the issues and themes it raises.

Speaking of films, here is a link to a trailer for a film for fathers coming out in 2009. Called The Other Side of the Glass, it looks like it covers a side of birth--specifically, medicalized birth--that hasn't been addressed in this way before. The trailer definitely makes me want to see more.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

MANA Conference

Back in July, I posted briefly about the MANA conference this year (I was commenting on their great logo!). However, when I posted about conferences I've received emails about recently, I should have mentioned MANA again, since it is coming right up! The Midwives Alliance of North America is holding its 2008 conference in Traverse City, MI on October 16-19. Two of the CfM Board members will be attending.

The conference features Jennifer Block, Suzanne Arms, and many other dynamic speakers. It also has CEUs available from ACNM, MEAC, MI Nurses Association, and DONA. Of interest also is the MotherBaby Film Festival that will take place October 15th-17th with Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein in attendance. You can read more on the event's interesting blog. (and, of course, don't forget to make note of the conference's super cool logo. I'm especially fond of it :-)

American Association of Birth Centers

Early this month, CfM President Susan Hodges attended the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) Birth Institute and gave a brief presentation about CfM. It sounds as if the conference was very educational and valuable. Many people feel that birth centers may be the best hope at bridging the gap between the midwives model of care and the medical model. Membership in the AABC is not for birth centers only but "for anyone who is interested in pregnancy, birth, labor and delivery, and other women’s healthcare and reproductive issues. We are an association for parents, parents-to-be, and expectant families; we are also an association for health care workers including midwives, OB/GYN doctors and nurses, and professionals who specialize in pre-netal and post-natal care."

Speaking of Susan, we recently learned that she was chosen to received the "Midwifing Midwives Award" from the Midwives College of Utah at its annual President's Banquet. The nonimation stated that "this special award is given to a person that exemplifies MCU's definition of a midwife, and has shown great dedication to supporting, nurturing, educating, and promoting midwives." Susan definitely meets this description and I'm excited to see her recognized for it!

Orgasmic Birth Film

My local Friends of Midwives chapter held a fundraising screening of the new documentary Orgasmic Birth this past weekend. The film was beautiful! Even after seeing it, I do continue to have serious reservations about the choice of title for the film and wonder if it will hinder the films ability to realize its full potential. (I fear the title keeps it on the "fringe" and in the "choir.") It is a beautiful and impactful film. Very well done and the message is profound. The title does not seem to accurately portray the births and messages about birth in this film though. Ecstatic, euphoric, pleasurable, or joyful all seem like more appropriately descriptive words.

One element that particularly stood out to me in the film was how active and engaged the fathers were with the birth process during the home births shown. They were right there holding and loving their wives through their journeys. this was a stark contrast to the hospital births in which the fathers nervously held their wives hands and occasionally patted their backs. "She was in entirely too much pain, so the epidural was very welcome," says one of these fathers, shown earlier as his wife discussed their plans for a natural hospital birth. The sense of power and exhiliration is markedly diminished (or even absent) in the hospital settings shown.

This was a deeply moving film and I hope it reaches the audience it is meant for because it has a powerful message to share about the joy of birth and potency of the birth experience.

Friday, September 26, 2008

International Midwifery

There is so much going on with midwifery and birth issues in the U.S. that it can be hard to keep up. And, this means sometimes I forget to look at what is happening across the world! Two organizations came to my attention recently--Mercy in Action in the Philippines and Birth India in India.

Mercy in Action
is a ministry involved in creating midwifery clinics and providing public health services. They welcome donations to help keep their birth centers running as well as donations of baby supplies.

Birth India is a new organization founded in 2007 by five women--some who were spurred to action by very traumatic birth experiences and others by very beautiful ones. They are creating Birth Networks to educate women about natural birth and to discuss birth trauma. I love the closing line of their About Us statement: "Birth India is here because we believe the birthing woman is a force to be protected and loved. "

Back to the U.S., for those keeping up with the Big Push for Midwives campaign, The Big Push now has a Facebook account you may wish to check out!

Friday, September 19, 2008


I've received a lot of conference news recently as well as information about BOLD performances going on across the country and I wanted to link to some interesting events. I wanted to make sure to remind conference organizers, BOLD planners, and event table staffers, that Citizens for Midwifery has tons of fact sheets/handouts available as pdfs online for free. Though we do not have the person-power or financial wherewithal to provide packets of print information for free, you can access our materials online and create your own packets! The fact sheets are great for printing off and having on your conference table, or to place on dining tables during a fundraising events, etc. You can also order Midwives Model of Care brochures affordably in CfM's online store. We do have two-color fliers about CfM available for free via the store as well.

Okay, so on to some of the conferences I've heard about recently! In Ventura, CA, the Birth Action Coalition is holding an event called "Speaking Out for Birth Choices" on October 4th.

In Milwaukee, WI, on October 12th the CARE Network of Milwaukee and the Well-Rounded Maternity Center are bringing a portion of the Safe Motherhood Quilt Project to Milwaukee as part of a program on the Causes, Prevention and Treatment of Postpartum Depression.

Then speaking of Milwaukee, I also learned that ICEA and Lamaze are teaming up for a joint conference there in 2010 (Sept 20-Oct 3) to honor both of their 50th anniversaries. I think that is incredibly neat and is sure to be a not-to-be-missed conference!

Coming up much more rapidly, on Oct. 10-12 of this year, the International Center for Traditional Childbearing will hold their 6th annual Black Midwives & Healers Conference in New York, NY. I like the motto on the conference annoucement: "healthy babies are everyone's business."

I'm sure there are also many other exciting things going on around the country (and the world!). This was just a snapshot. It is exciting to me to look at how much action is going on all over the place in support of birthing women.


Friday, September 12, 2008


I am leaving shortly for the Friends of Missouri Midwives annual retreat this weekend. I'm presenting two sessions--one on "Birthing Room Yoga" and the other on "Planning for Postpartum." I have a special interest in postpartum and encourage people to plan for a special time of "cocooning" with their newborn, rather than rushing to rejoin "normal" life. A vital part of making cocooning possible, is having a good support network. I think back to the care I received from my midwife postpartum--it really mattered to me. The time she spent gently sponge bathing off my arms and legs, cleaning the living room rug, doing laundry. The fact that she returned (20 mile drive for her) at about 12 hours postpartum, 2 days postpartum, and a few more times thereafter (plus phone calls!), to check on us and to offer her support and encouragement. This kind of care is irreplaceable and not the kind of care that you can ever expect from an OB or for an out-of-home birthing environment. Many midwives return at 1 day, 3 days, 5, days, and one week postpartum!

An element I also emphasize is the importance of making a written postpartum support plan. DONA has a great example on their website and there is a good handout about postpartum planning on this site (I especially like the final page in the document that is "A Request for Help After Baby is Born" with accompanying "tear-off" section for people to fill out and give back to with the things they are willing to do for you postpartum).

Postpartum is a time for you to reach out for support and to let others "mother" you for a change. Though of course you could do it all alone if you had to, now is not the time to be "superwoman" or to prove how competent and independent you are. You and your baby will both benefit from an extended period of rest and recuperation, nuzzled up together in your own bed, marveling at what has just happened.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart

I just finished reading a wonderful new midwife's saga by midwife Carol Leonard. Called Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart, this book is a phenomenal read. I enjoyed it immensely. It was compelling, engaging, exciting, and also sad. The book chronicles Carol's personal experiences over a period of 13 years with tons of riveting birth stories, but it also explores the development of midwifery as a profession in New Hampshire and also the birth of MANA. My full review will be in the forthcoming issue of CfM News, but I urge you to pop on over to Carol's site and just buy it for yourself!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

GRN: Big Push for Midwives News: ACOG ups effort to eliminate home birth midwives

Dear Friends,

The Big Push for Midwives Campaign continues to put out PushNews and PushAlerts. (If you haven’t heard of the Big Push for Midwives Campaign, look up Grassroots Network Messages from earlier this year, or read more at the website

Today’s PushNews notes that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has moved gettting rid of home birth midwives up to the #2 spot on their list of State Legislative Issues for 2008! You can see the whole list here.

I have copied the PushNews (which includes some great quotes) below. It is not yet posted on the Big Push website. If you are interested in receiving PushNews and Push Alerts, contact Steff Hedenkamp

Citizens for Midwifery supports the work of the Big Push for Midwives Campaign!

Susan Hodges “gate keeper”

PushNews from The Big Push for Midwives Campaign
CONTACT: Steff Hedenkamp, (816) 506-4630,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, September 1, 2008

Number Two With a Bullet
Critical Women’s Health Issues Neglected as Physician Group Yet Again Sets its Sites on Midwives

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 1, 2008)In the newest phase of its ongoing effort to deny women the right to choose their maternity care providers and birth settings, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has announced that eliminating access to midwives who specialize in out-of-hospital birth is now the second most important issue on its state legislative agenda. This move puts restricting access to trained midwives ahead of such critical issues as contraceptive equity, ensuring access to emergency contraception, and the prevention and treatment of perinatal HIV/AIDS.

“ACOG claims to be an advocate of women’s health and choice, but when it comes to the right to choose to deliver your baby in the privacy of your own home with a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) who is specifically trained to provide the safest care possible, ACOG’s paternalistic colors bleed through,” said Susan M. Jenkins, Legal Counsel for the Big Push for Midwives Campaign. “It is astonishing that an organization that purports to be a champion of women’s healthcare would put a petty turf battle that affects less than one percent of the nation’s childbearing women ahead of pressing issues that have an impact on nearly every woman in this country. If this is not dereliction of duty, I can’t imagine what is.”

In recent years, ACOG has led a well-financed campaign to fight legislative reforms that would license and regulate CPMs and has now teamed up with the American Medical Association (AMA) to promote legislation that would prevent families from choosing to give birth at home. Despite these joint efforts, the groups have not been successful in defeating the groundswell of grassroots activism in support of full access to a comprehensive range of maternity care options that meet the needs of all families.

“Wisconsin is a good example of what ACOG and the AMA are up against,” said Jane Crawford Peterson, CPM, Advocacy Trainer for The Big Push. “Our bipartisan grassroots coalition of everyday people from across the state managed to defeat the most powerful and well-financed special interest groups in Wisconsin, all on an expenses-only budget of $3000 during a legislative session in which $47 million was spent on lobbying. When you try to deny women the fundamental and very personal right to choose where and how to give birth, they will get organized and they will let their elected officials know that restrictions on those rights cannot stand.”

Noting these successes, ACOG has recently launched its own grassroots organizing effort, calling on member physicians to recruit their patients to participate in its “Who Will Deliver My Baby?” medical liability reform campaign.

“ACOG itself admits that we’re facing a critical shortage of maternity care providers,” said Steff Hedenkamp, Communications Coordinator for the Big Push. “They certainly realize that medical liability reform is nothing more than a band aid and that increasing access to midwives and birth settings is critical to fixing our maternity care system and ensuring that rural, low-income and uninsured women don’t fall through the cracks. Midwives represent an essential growth segment of the U.S. pool of maternity care providers, but instead of putting the healthcare needs of women first, ACOG would rather devote its considerable lobbying budget to a last-ditch attempt to protect its own bottom line. This is not a happy Labor Day for our nation’s mothers and babies.”

The Big Push for Midwives ( is a nationally coordinated campaign organized to advocate for regulation and licensure of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and to push back against the attempts of the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to deny American families access to safe and legal midwifery care. The campaign plays a critical role in building a new model of U.S. maternity care delivery at the local and regional levels, at the heart of which is the Midwives Model of Care, based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes. Media inquiries: Steff Hedenkamp (816) 506-4630,