Monday, May 23, 2011

GRN: Home Birth Rate Up 20% in Four Years

Hello Friends,

Mothers are clearly calling for a variety of birth options: According to newly released data from the CDC, home birth rates have risen 20% in a four year period (2004-2008). This substantial increase has caught the interest of health care practitioners and policy makers, as well as the mainstream media.

MSNBC and USA Today covered the news and Today Moms, the online parenting network of The Today Show, featured an article called "Why Women Shouldn't Fear Home Birth" by celebrity, Mayim Bialik, who birthed at home.

We are very happy to see this conversation reaching a wider audience and as always, we will continue to work towards ensuring women have access to well-trained midwives in the setting of their choice. You can help by using the CfM Tool Kit: Stand Up for Healthy Birth and Home Birth in your own local community. Please share your efforts with us and the Citizens for Midwifery community on our facebook page.

This clear demand for midwives in various settings is yet another reason why the federal legislation -- "Access to Certified Professional Midwives Act of 2011" (HR 1054) -- is an integral part of creating optimal health outcomes for mothers by securing better access to the high quality care of well-trained midwives.

If you have not already please join the MAMA campaign.


Hillary Boucher, CfM

P.S. Citizens for Midwifery relies on your generous donations. Please consider supporting us--Click Here to Donate Today!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book Review: Arms Wide Open: A Midwife’s Journey

Book Review: Arms Wide Open: A Midwife’s Journey

By Patricia Harman
Beacon Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-0807001387
324 pages, paperback, $16.47 (Amazon)

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE, CCCE

I very much enjoyed Patricia Harman’s first book, The Blue Cotton Gown, and was delighted to learn about her new memoir, Arms Wide Open which is, in a sense, both a prequel and sequel to her first memoir. The first half of Arms Wide Open chronicles Patsy’s experiences with homesteading and communal living as a young hippie mother in the 1970’s. It also explores her thoughts and experiences with peace activism and her passion for an eco-friendly life. During this time, she attends her first birth and dives into her midwifery journey and eventually becomes a CNM practicing with her hippie-farmer-turned-OB/GYN husband in West Virginia. Her experiences with their years in a joint women’s health practice are described in The Blue Cotton Gown. Readers who, like me, wondered what happened where The Blue Cotton Gown left off, can find out in the second half of Arms Wide Open, which is a narrative of Patsy’s ongoing work with women through 2009 and includes her emotional painful moments in her marriage, as her husband struggles with fears of another lawsuit as well as with chronic pelvic pain patients who abuse his trust (chronic pelvic pain is a specialty of their practice).

I did feel as if there was a large chunk of story missing as the book somewhat abruptly skips from 1978 to 2008. We miss learning about any of Patsy’s experiences in nurse-midwifery school, nor do we learn much about her practice when she was a CNM attending births. The book transitions from her years as a self-taught midwife considering going to school to become a CNM, straight to her present-day years as a CNM in a private women’s health practice.

Harman’s writing style is lyrical and engaging as well as candid. The book is based on personal journals and reading it feels like eavesdropping on someone’s very private thoughts and feelings. The book is much more of a look at a woman’s feelings about her life, than it is a “manifesto” about birth or about the practice of midwifery. In this manner, I feel like you receive a much more complete picture of a midwife’s life and journey, rather than reading a sequence of birth stories. Patsy has a lot of life in addition to birth. While definitely not a “feel good” book, Arms Wide Open is a deeply touching and very honest exploration of one woman’s personal journey in life, love, motherhood, and midwifery.


Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Multimedia Review: A Book for Midwives

Multimedia Review: A Book for Midwives
Hesperian Foundation
CD-Rom, 2011
544 page pdf book in English and Spanish
by Susan Klein, Suellen Miller, and Fiona Thomson
ISBN13: 978-0942364-24-8, $16.00

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE

As a child, I was fascinated by my father’s copy of the book, Where There is No Doctor. Fast forward twenty or so years and imagine my glee when as a birth activist adult, I then discovered A Book for Midwives, also published by the Hesperian Foundation. Hesperian's goal “is to promote health and self-determination in poor communities throughout the world by making health information accessible. [They] work toward that goal by producing books and other educational resources for community-based health.” In keeping with this goal, A Book for Midwives is available for FREE download on the Hesperian site. (Personally, I appreciate the professionally printed version of the book I purchased, because I think it would cost more same in ink to print it myself, but without the nice cover!).

A Book for Midwives is excellent; a true community resource. It is also a very sobering look at the reality of women's health and health care in other countries. It contains reminders such as "do not hit or slap a woman in labor," and other things that can make you cringe. A Book for Midwives is basically a textbook for midwives, health care workers, or educators working in developing countries and/or with very limited resources. I appreciate how it makes information available that is sometimes "hidden" in other books--i.e. explicitly technical content and “how to’s” that are normally reserved only for "professional" people. It is simply written and extremely blunt. There is no fluff and nothing romanticized about pregnancy, labor, and birth. In a way, it was hard to read a book that makes it so very clear how very, very difficult things are for midwives and women in impoverished areas (living in the US, I am used to the "normal, healthy pregnant women" approach to midwifery care). The book covers a wide range of information from preventing infection, treating obstetrical emergencies, doing pelvic exams, and breastfeeding to HIV/AIDS, testing for STDs and cervical cancer, and IUD insertion. There is also a section in the back of the book about medications, medication administration, giving injections, and other topics. It is an extremely comprehensive resource. (Just a side note, in the section on contraceptives, the book is heavily in favor of hormonal methods such as pills as well as very positive about IUDs and sterilization.)

Recently, Hesperian made A Book for Midwives available for purchase on CD. The CD includes the 544 page book as a pdf file in both English and Spanish. Both high resolution and low resolution versions of the book (in both languages) are included on the disk. This format makes it easy for the book to travel with you via laptop for trainings or presentations. I was particularly excited to convert it for my Kindle, making it readily available for travel and reference.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the CD for review purposes.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Celebrating Midwives & Mothers!

Hello Friends,

This is an exciting week here at CfM because two of our favorite things--midwives and mothers--are being celebrated!

Today, May 5th, is International Day of the Midwife. We are so grateful for the amazing work that midwives do to keep women healthy and safe all over the world. To learn more about the International Day of the Midwife visit the International Confederation of Midwives. You can also participate in the Virtual International Day of the Midwife (VIDM)--an online conference happening all day today.

One way we can thank our midwives and ensure that women have better access to midwives is to support the important federal legislation HR 1054, the "Access to Certified Professional Midwives Act of 2011". We're proud to be working with Midwives & Mothers in Action (M.A.M.A.) to increase women’s access to midwives and to quality, affordable maternity care by securing federal recognition of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs).

The MAMA Campaign, is a partnership between the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM), Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA), Citizens for Midwifery (CfM), International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC), North American Registry of Midwives (NARM), and the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC).

Sunday, May 8th, is Mother's Day and we want to honor the amazing ways that mothers care for their families, their communities and for the world. Mother's Day is particularly special to us because CfM was founded by mothers and we work to ensure that all mothers have access to the Midwives Model of Care. We are honored to work alongside you and thank you for being an amazing mother and ally in this work to ensure access to midwives.

This Mother's Day weekend take some time to check out the Every Mother Counts campaign. Getting informed and taking action is an outstanding way to honor ourselves as mothers, the mothers in our lives and mothers all over the world.

Have a great Midwives & Mother's Day!


Hillary Boucher, CfM