Monday, November 28, 2005

I love this poem and poet. I fell in love with William Stafford the summer of 99 when the key not speaker at the International Waldorf Youth Conference shared some of Stafford's works. And what is interesting is he live here in Oregon and taught at Lewis and Clark...see links bellow.

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
—William Stafford

Link to William Stafford
Link to Waldorf Conferences

Friday, November 25, 2005

Nestle Formula Scare

I recieved this email from another midwifery student...thought it should get passed on...

Baby milk scare widens in Europe
Swiss-based food giant Nestle has ordered the recall of baby milk from
France, Spain, Portugal and Italy after tests suggested chemical
contamination. *
Police in Italy, the largest market of the four, have begun seizing 30m
litres of the baby milk from shops and depots.
The alarm was raised after traces of a chemical involved in the printing
process were found in samples in Italy.
Nestle denies the chemical poses a risk to health but has recalled the
cartons, with an expiration date of September 2006.
The scare began in June when a sample of liquid baby milk produced by
Nestle showed traces of isopropyl thioxanthone, a photographic chemical
known by the initials ITX.
* This decision was taken as an extreme precautionary measure to
reassure consumers * Nestle statement
The chemical is used in the printing process of the milk cartons, but
appears to have made it into the baby milk itself.
The Italian authorities have said the chemical may be toxic.
A Nestle statement on the recall said: "This decision was taken as an
extreme precautionary measure to reassure consumers.
"Nestle believes that the level of ITX measured in the tested produce
does not represent a health risk." Nestle spokesman Francois-Xavier Perroud said only 2m litres had been
recalled in Italy, less than the 30m ordered to be seized by the
authorities.A company spokesman in Switzerland said a new packaging process had been
put in place to prevent contamination.
* Negative light *
The BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva says contaminated baby milk is a food
producer's worst nightmare and perhaps most of all for Nestle, which has
attracted controversy over its baby milk in the past.
For years Nestle has had a serious image problem because of its
promotion of powdered baby milk over breast feeding in the developing
world, where many new mothers have neither the money to buy the formula
nor the clean water to prepare it, our correspondent says.
Contaminated milk is a different issue, she says, but it still puts one
of Nestle's top products in a negative light once again.
Nestle has said it does not expect the recall to affect company-wide
results - but with a product as sensitive as baby milk that is perhaps a
little optimistic, our correspondent adds.
Italy's forestry police - which is responsible for agriculture -
initially seized 2m litres of milk for infants on 9 November.
The wider seizure was ordered after subsequent tests showed all Nestle
baby milk cartons with an expiry date of September 2006 were
contaminated, the Italian news agency Ansa reports.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Birth Story

One of the most memorable births I have attended was last spring. It was what some midwives might refer to as a biodynamic birth. A biodynamic birth is one where the birthing mother is in full control of her experience--her body, mind, and spirit. And because she is able to really be empowered, she actually does not need guidance or instruction, just support. In a biodynamic birth, the mother listens and moves with her body. Her birth becomes of unnecessary interventions...The birth I attended in the Spring was like that. The mother labored in such a beautiful and gentle way. Oh, don't get me wrong, she made plenty of noise, but she was so in tune with herself, that I think we just fell right into the experience with her. Her husband at some point took a meditation bowl off the shelf and began sounding it. Evidently it is a Tibetan way of calling the spirit of the child to the family. Whatever the reason or the belief it was very beautiful and we all got caught up in the energy of the birth. When that happens, the birth attendants start talking in their own silent language--vitals are taken, exams are performed, fetal heart tones are recorded, but it all happens softly, gently, and often without anyone else noticing or remembering. Sounding a meditation bowl is similar to sounding a bell. You use a wooden mallet to tap the edge of the bowl to make a resonating tone, or you take the mallet and sweep it around the edge of the bowls edge to keep the song going. When you play the bowl this way the tones seem to take on a life of their own. The tones get soft or strong or loud and I at least, felt as though I was not in control of that piece. At this particular birth, the tones seemed to grow in intensity and peak with the contractions. It sounded like a resounding OM and the mother moaned-sang along, contraction after contraction. This went on for what may have been hours--it is hard to recall, we were so caught up in the energy of the moments. Eventually though the mother to be began to push, her husband leaning over the edge of the birth tub in support. I don't think that she pushed for very long--but at last the baby came swimming into the wet, watery world and into the arms of her lovely and exhausted mother. Every bit of the birth seemed sacred and graceful and blessed. There were no complications, no panics, no big fears. It was all a dance that had been done a thousand times before and so we danced the steps perfectly.


Vacation Time cont.

The reason for the last post is that I am finally on vacation...I guess it is easier for apprentices to leave town every once in a while. Anyway, I am visiting my folks in Vevey, Switzerland, where they recently moved. It is very lovely here--the view takes your breath away. The mountains seem to rise right up from Lake Geneva, an ocean of rocky peaks and white caps. It is nice to sit and read in a local Boulangerie and sip coffee or wine. Today I drove up to Gruyere, yes where the cheese comes from, and tripped around the Chateau de Gruyere and the next door HR Giger Alien Museum. That was an interesting place, and the bar next door is definitely something worth checking out. The chairs look like they are made from spines and rib cages. The bar actually looked like it belonged in Star Wars. Next up, Lyon, in France, the Collection de l'art Brut (museum of amateur art by the lonesome, mentally ill, and criminally insane) and hopefully Venice. I know, what kind of midwifery blogger am I? But, family is important, having fun is important, and this trip will replace Christmas...there are always women due around Christmas!
Something I love about Switzerland: when you walk into a pharmacy it is easy to have access to alternative health care products, like Weleda and homeopathics, and herbs. It is so common chemicals, no crap. It is refreshing.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Vacation Time

Any midwife will agree--free time is hard to come by. Most midwives are in private practice and even the ones that work with other midwives don't work shifts. I mean, they don't have 24 hours on and 2 days off or something like that. Instead they interview clients and agree to attend those births. Which means they not only attend the birth from start to finish, but they are on call for that woman 24/7. Thus, if the happy mother-to-be has not yet had her baby, the midwife must remain available, therefore in town, until said woman gives birth. Scheduling free time or vacation time gets tricky, because you can't be on call for any of those mamas and head out of town. Midwives generally solve this problem be either never leaving town or by taking a few weeks off. Now, mind you, by taking a few weeks off, I do not mean that you can skip off to the tropics the entire time; no midwives must account for the women that may go late or early. So you take a week or so off before you leave town and a week or so off after you get back. Confused? Mom's, as many of you can attest to, do not have their babies on their due dates, (well maybe a tenth of them do) generally they have them later. This must be taken into account for vacation time. If you want to go away July 10th-July 20th you can't have a mom due the 5th of could easily miss that birth if she went a bit past her due date, and you couldn't take a mom due the 25th of July, what if she went early? So, if you know, preferably way in advance, that you want to take that week off in July, you must refer all interested clients, whom are due about two weeks before the trip and two weeks after, to another midwife. Complicated right? This is probably why some midwives never seem to take a break...Both of the women I work with are due for a vacation! I have been working with them for over a year and they have not yet skipped town to lounge under the sun in the sand...

Midwifery Model of Care (as defined by Birthingway College)

Midwives are trained independent practitioners, who are specialists in natural, vaginal childbirth and in well-woman gynecological care.
Pregnancy and birth are healthy processes, with a wide range of normal variations.
Pregnancy and childbirth usually progress best without interference, which inevitably alters and frequently harms the reproductive process.
Each woman and family is unique, and best served by individualized, non-routinized care.
A midwife's role is not to manage, but to support, encourage and guide. A midwife does not empower women, rather she assists women as they empower themselves.
Midwives provide continuity of care throughout the reproductive year, and integrated care for the woman, infant, and family.
The focus of midwifery care is the childbearing woman and her family. Pregnancy and birth are major life experiences of the woman, not the birth attendant.
Midwives honor and support a woman's right to make her own decisions. Active use of informed choice is an essential part of midwifery practice.
Midwives believe in the intrinsic value of childbirth as a process, while simultaneously working toward the goal of a healthy mother and infant.
Midwives strive to be inclusive and cooperative in their interactions with clients and peers, rather than oppositional or controlling, with knowledge shared freely.
Midwives are best trained by other midwives. Hands-on learning should be a major component of midwifery education.
While childbearing women and families are responsible for the outcomes of their own decisions, midwives have responsibility for maintaining a safe situation. Skills must be kept current and knowledge updated so that the midwife can optimally perform her tasks of overseeing the progress of pregnancy, labor, and postpartum; providing well-woman gynecological care; observing signs and detecting problems; promoting health and encouraging prevention; and utilizing midwifery knowledge and skills to rectify problems or consult/refer as appropriate.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


A midwife is a wonderful, warm, mothering woman who is wise in the ways of natural childbirth. Most midwives attend homebirths (births in the privacy of your own home) or in a small, free-standing birth center. A free-standing birth center has no hospital affiliation. These midwives may be referred to as LM (Licensed Midwife or CM or CPM (Certified Professional Midwife). Some nurses, who have had midwifery training also attend homebirths and are allowed to attend hospital births as well. They are also known or referred to as CNMs or Certified Nurse Midwives. Other kinds of practitioners who attend homebirths are naturopaths. For the sake of this blog, however, when I refer to a midwife, I mean the LM or CPM kind.

Requirements for becoming a midwife vary from state to state. However, to become certified there is a national board, NARM, that tests and examines potential midwives. The board also expects a certain number of births to be attended, some as an assistant and some as a primary midwife. So finding an apprenticeship and beginning to attend births is important. It is similar, I guess, to a residency for an MD.

Midwives work hard. The last birth I attended we arrived around 10 am and left at 2 am. The birth team, generally myself and the two midwives in the practice, stay for the whole experience once we get there. And when we arrive, it looks as though we are moving in. A lot of equipment is brought, some of it is for emergencies and some of it is to help the mother feel comfortable. The biggest, and probably most important, thing that gets hauled around is the water birth tub. And I am sure that the moms are grateful. There is something about the water that women find very soothing. It is warm, they can finally move around, and it is a gentle environment for the baby to be born into. Go to for more information on waterbirth.