Christmas Births

Midwifery Today Logo

Editor’s Corner

Happy Holy Days

This is our last E-News issue of the year so I want to take this opportunity to wish you the most joyful holidays whatever and however you celebrate. You deserve a great celebration. The work you do for motherbaby is maybe the most important work being done in this world. How babies are born, how mothers are cared for affects how the world goes. I have great hope for motherbaby and families because the new knowledge of the microbiome and how it affects human babies for their entire life is an issue upon which change can be made.

Because you work so diligently for families, I hope you will consider subscribing to Midwifery Today. We make the greatest effort to bring you articles, poems, art and photos that will help inform and inspire your calling. We have wonderful authors such as Michel Odent, Sister MorningStar, Robin Lim, Susun Weed, Elizabeth Davis and many more. Also, please consider writing for us. You will receive a year subscription if your article is published. You can subscribe here.

~ 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.

Midwifery Today on Facebook
Midwifery Education: Caring and Sharing (Facebook)

 

Featured Article

My Most Memorable Christmas Births

My most memorable Christmas birth was a beautiful waterbirth, reminiscent of “Silent night, holy night.” It was a crisp, clear night, just a few days after Christmas. “The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, gave the luster of midday…”

The family had moved the dining table into a spare bedroom and put the tub up next to the Christmas tree. It was a real tree, still smelling of pine. The only light in the room came from the lights on the tree. The baby slid into the world serenely and reverently and mewed a content new baby cry. All was well with the world.

To make it even more memorable, when we turned on the kitchen light to examine the placenta, there was a second smaller lobe attached to the main placenta. It had a tiny string of an umbilical cord leading off of it, ending in a small empty sac.

Then there was the primip who was in labor on Christmas Eve. In those days, my husband and I split up the Christmas duties with one of us taking the younger kids to the children’s mass and pageant on Christmas Eve while the other one of us stayed home and cooked dinner and then attended midnight mass with the older kids. The one who had gone to church earlier put the younger kids to bed and started putting presents under the tree.

So, this particular Christmas, I was planning to take the younger kids to the children’s mass, but I was still at the birth, so Hubby had to take them while the older kids stayed home and made supper. Surely, I thought, I’d be home in time to take them to the midnight mass. But no; remember, this was a primip. So the older kids had to walk to church while hubby stayed home with the littles. Meanwhile, my client labored on through the night. She had her baby in the morning. I stayed just long enough to see them settled and nursing well, not bleeding much. I looked at my watch and realized that if I left soon, I would be just in time for the 9 am Christmas morning mass, but there wasn’t enough time to go home and change first. Well, I got to church in the nick of time, sat down and promptly feel asleep!

Then there was the time my fellow midwife called me in labor, just after we finished opening Christmas presents. Her son was born that evening. I attended his wedding last year!

And I’ll never forget the time when all the kids were little (we only had three or four back then). We had procrastinated wrapping Christmas presents and as luck would have it, I had 8 births in 10 days, right around Christmas, so when I was called to a birth on Christmas Eve, most of the presents were still unwrapped. I got home at 3 am Christmas morning, just as Hubby was wrapping the last of the presents. We vowed to never wait to wrap presents again, and we haven’t!

That birth was memorable not only because of the present wrapping fiasco, but this woman did the opposite of what most women do. She would relax between contractions and then pace through each contraction. When it was over, I had rug burns on my knees from scooting behind her with a towel as she paced while the baby descended the birth canal. Thankfully, on the contraction that brought the baby out, she finally stopped and leaned on a chair as baby came out.

~ Marlene Waechter, CPM, is a pioneer Catholic midwife who has served in southern Ohio since the 1970s. She is mother of seven grown children, including five home-born, one of whom was born in water. She is also grandmother to 15 grandchildren, including two HBACs. Besides being a long-time contributor to Midwifery Today, Marlene has co-authored the book, The Joyful Mysteries of Childbirth, a practical and spiritual guide for Christian families.

 

Q: Tell us your Christmas birth story.

— Midwifery Today

A: My favorite Christmas birth happened years ago. In the wee morning hours, I was called to attend a labor on Christmas during an ice and snowstorm. We all drove very slowly to the birth and arrived in time to attend the birth of a 5+ lb girl into a family that had four boys. The parents were so surprised and elated they finally had a girl that they all were shouting Hallelujah. I felt like it was an angel announcement and baby, of course, was named Noelle. I drove to my family’s Christmas dinner with snowflakes falling and hot chocolate in my belly.

— Maryl Smith

A: The very first birth in my birth center was on Christmas! The mama was a VBAC hopeful and had transferred care to me three weeks prior. Then she birthed her precious baby in the wee hours of Christmas morning. It really was magical. Everything outside was so quiet (I’m in downtown Dallas) because all the families were home asleep…together. I got finished in time to get home and shower, slip into bed, close my eyes and have my door burst open with excited children yelling and laughing for Christmas! I got up, had coffee, opened presents and then finally got to nap.

— Kristine Tawater

A: I know a lass who at 23 years old was 3 weeks overdue. On Christmas Eve, her wise grandma made her walk for miles and miles looking for nutmeg that the grandmother then put in the young lady’s large champagne glass without her noticing at their family Christmas celebrations. The young lady left the party and got into bed and woke a few hours later all wet. After three contractions, she headed to hospital as the contractions kept coming back to back. Her mother, her grandmother and her doula all joined her at the hospital.

The contractions came and came, one after the other, nonstop and pinching her back, with no rest or respite. At 4 pm the midwives changed and in came an energetic lady with a very strong accent. She put in a catheter and got kicked and sworn at in Spanish, which she didn’t understand. Finally, a cone-headed baby was born. He was welcomed by the three generations of women behind him, his great great-grandmother, his grandmother, his mother, his godmother doula, his daddy and the tinsel-covered midwives with strong vibes. He is a prince amongst his family and his friends. And this 25th of December, he will be 25 years old and will be surrounded by his family and by his very proud mother, who will never forget every moment of that Christmas day, as she is me!

— Paula Gallardo

A: During my very first Christmas as a newly graduated midwife (I got my diploma on October 1), I worked at a birth center in Copenhagen. A young woman from Greenland came in to have her second child. Her first had been born earlier in the year in January, and this, her second baby, was to be born on Christmas morning! She came in early in the morning and the birth was speedy and beautiful. The mother had such a lovely spirit. Just after noon time, she announced that she was ready to go home again. She had put the Christmas duck in the oven on low heat before leaving for the birth center, and she was expecting dinner guests that evening! She promised me to lie on the couch and let her mother do the rest of the cooking and serve her dinner. I met her again a couple of years later; she told me that Christmas evening had been the best in her life.

— Tine Greve

 

Want the whole story?

Subscribe to Midwifery Today print magazine and you’ll receive an issue four times a year filled with complete articles, birth stories, stunning birth photography and more. Midwifery Today E-News is just a taste of what you’ll find in Midwifery Today magazine. Subscribe.

Toward Better Birth by Midwifery Today

Midwifery Today Logo

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.

Midwifery Today on Facebook
Midwifery Education: Caring and Sharing (Facebook)

 

Kangaroo Care

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. We should try to prevent a baby being born with immature, under-developed lungs.
  2. 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.

~ Vicki Penwell
Excerpted from “Prematurity and Kangaroo Care during a Disaster,” Midwifery Today, Issue 111
View table of contents / Order the back issue

 

Want the whole story?
Subscribe to Midwifery Today print magazine and four times a year you’ll receive 72 pages filled with complete articles, birth stories, stunning birth photography and more. Midwifery Today E-News is just a taste of what you’ll find in Midwifery Today magazine. Subscribe. Midwifery Today Magazine

Straight from the Heart Mothering by Midwifery Today Magazine

I cried when I read this. This is so powerful and true! The journey a woman goes through during childbirth is magical. It is indeed a dangerous and blessed event. My husband’s mother died 12 hours after giving birth to him. She had internal bleeding that wasn’t caught in time. I remember my father in law being so nervous during my two deliveries. He had happy tears and much praise to God that I survived the journey.

Whether you have had a child birth or not, you dear woman…have that space, that Sacred Womb that is connected to all of Creation, on every realm and every vibration.

Enjoy this lovely article!

~ Rev. Tiffany White Sage Woman

Midwifery Today Logo

Straight from the Heart Mothering

I wish I was sitting with you now, at your kitchen table. I would listen to your birth story. I would rub your strong shoulders and ask to hold your baby. I wish this because I admire your courage. Thank you for bringing a new baby Earth-side. You are a heroine. Some Native American tribes believe that the mother must journey to the land of the souls to bring back a child for her people. This is labor. Your own re-birth and the birth of this baby is the most significant journey, both spiritual and physical, that a human being can make. You return a mother, having completed the world’s most dangerous and blessed life event. If you do not believe that childbirth, in all its manifestations, is a heroic undertaking, consider the statistics: every day on planet Earth approximately 1370 women die due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Today as you read this, let me celebrate your bravery. Whatever the details of your birth story, you faced your individual childbirth challenges and worked to give this world a newborn person.

Perhaps your birth did not go as planned. Many do not, and so you will cry and with the help of friends, family and the Good Lord (God, Universe, Creator) you must heal. Please do not diminish the wonder of the job you have done only because it was not perfect in our limited human opinion.

While we are of flesh and bone we cannot hope to fully know what “perfect” is. Our best made plans will be broken a million times in the years of parenting ahead. As mothers we must learn to be flexible, for the rigid tree breaks in the windstorms of life. In birth we are utterly taken apart. In this way God guarantees that we emerge anew. This is how Mother Nature builds a new mother, by first burning down our preexisting lives. The survival of this precious being you hold close today depends upon your undoing.

~ Robin Lim
Excerpted from “Straight from the Heart Mothering,” Midwifery Today, Issue 49
View table of contents / Order the back issue