From the inception of Midwifery Today, we have been interested in covering international issues. Babies are born all over the world, and we at Midwifery Today are interested in helping all of them to be born into loving hands—of midwives, doctors, moms and dads. The keywords here are loving hands!
I like that Jeannine Parvati Baker coined the phrase “Peace on Earth begins with birth.” It isn’t just peace on earth but peace within each one of us. And as we are now learning, it begins at conception or before. There is great new information out on the microbiome, epigenetics and communication with your unborn baby.
As imperialism spread throughout the world, bad birth practices were disseminated. Lithotomy position for delivery, episiotomies and disrespect for motherbaby became the norm in cultures where these practices had been unheard of. I started the magazine International Midwife, which is now incorporated into Midwifery Today, to try to give back some of what Western medicine had stolen from indigenous birth practices. With conferences and information exchanges happening on so many levels now, we are actively trying to understand what is best for motherbaby the world over. We can do this hand in hand across the globe as we work together to help make gentle birth available to every mother, baby and family.
Once a quarter we ask our country contacts about a birth-related topic. Read below!
~ Jan Tritten, mother of Midwifery Today
Jan Tritten is the founder, editor-in-chief and mother of Midwifery Today magazine. She became a midwife in 1977 after the amazing homebirth of her second daughter. Her mission is to make loving midwifery care the norm for birthing women and their babies throughout the world. Meet Jan at our conferences around the world, or join her online, as she works to transform birth practices around the world.
Prematurity and Kangaroo Care during a Disaster
After Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda slammed into our central islands here in the Philippines last November, I saw a picture in the local paper of several newborn premature babies all wrapped in plastic bags and set on a counter in a broken-down chapel of a hospital. I knew in that instant that if only we could get down there to provide, and teach others to provide, good midwifery care, including the very simple and totally free concept of “kangaroo care” for the preemies, we could save many lives.
For many years, I have been teaching Disaster Preparedness and Response, which is no surprise since I live in a country with the most natural disasters of almost any…country. (The Philippines regularly is in the top three countries each year with the most natural disasters and the most deaths from natural disasters.) We have earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, mudslides, typhoons and super typhoons, and we have very little ability as a country to cope with, or mitigate, large-scale disasters, which was the case when the largest storm to ever make landfall occurred on November 8, 2013.
There are two things we know about disasters:
- Disasters tend to cause premature labors, due to the stress they put on pregnant women in the vicinity when the disaster strikes. This unfortunately creates a situation where premature births are happening under the worst of circumstances—during a typhoon, flood, blizzard, earthquake or an act of terrorism.
- Access to hospitals, NICUs and advanced medical care is often severely blocked, limited or totally destroyed in a natural or man-made disaster zone.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that there are a few simple, easy solutions to this problem. It will require midwives all over the world, including in the US, to be prepared to address the problem of premature deliveries following any disaster.
Current best practice for prematurity, to prevent mortality and morbidity, dictates two things:
- We should try to prevent a baby being born with immature, under-developed lungs.
- We should care for any babies that are born premature with kangaroo care.
With regard to the first practice, at the recent Women Deliver Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we learned about new protocols for the use of antenatal corticosteroids for threatened preterm birth. USAID is advocating that all midwives and doctors use these corticosteroids if premature delivery seems inevitable, as they cause a premature infant’s lungs to produce surfactant, thereby helping to prevent death from respiratory distress caused by immature lungs.
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