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Connect With MANA: Vice President's Address

Posted by Midwives Alliance on February 18th, 2015

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MANA Vice President Sarita Bennett, DO, CPM, shares with us her role on the board of the Midwives Alliance, her priorities for 2015, and ways to deepen your involvement at MANA.

As the vice president, my job is often very fluid and calls for being willing to do whatever needs done. I strive to keep an eye on the general board work and have at least some understanding of the many projects that are in process. At the same time I look for opportunities to hear what members and midwives are saying "on the ground." Through the last 3+ years on the board, my phone contact list has filled with what looks like a huge family – all with the last name MANA!

Have a question about MANA? Contact me!

I receive all of the emails to info@mana.org including communications from midwives, students, potential students and consumers. My goal: respond within 24-48 hours. Consumers are usually looking for midwifery services and I refer them immediately to the "Find a Midwife" feature on our consumer site, www.mothersnaturally.org. MANA members: be sure to opt in to this excellent benefit by making sure your membership is current and your information is accurate.

Mother's Naturally: What Would You Like Changed?

In 2015, I will be working with a team to update this website so that midwives can feel confident recommending it to their clients. It has the potential to be a great resource and just needs a little TLC. Please take a moment to look at the current website and give us feedback for what you would like to see. I'm the one who receives the info@mothersnaturally.org emails, too!

Tap into the resources the MANA website has to offer!

Have you looked at the MANA website (www.mana.org) lately? I am amazed at the vast amount of information and resources contained there. I encourage each of you to take some time to look through it and get a sense of the family of volunteers and staff that keep this organization on track and of the tremendous amount of work that has been done through the years to define and support the midwifery profession. As you explore, think about what could be updated or added to make the website an even stronger benefit to members. Some ideas we are looking at include a members only "classified ads" page where not only books and equipment can be advertised but also opportunities for apprenticeships and employment. Again, let me know what would serve you and ways you might be willing to get involved.

Deepen your connection to MANA

Did I say "willing to get involved"? One of the MANA Board's most important responsibilities in 2015 is looking for innovative – and fun! - ways to raise funds to support the Division of Research. The work of the DOR benefits us all as the MANA Statistics Project produces the evidence needed to support the wisdom of physiologic birth and midwifery care. These benefits range from the ability to provide improved care to the ability to affect policy. This dedicated team of professionals has worked for many years on a shoestring budget and now are standing on the edge of the potential for huge growth. But the DOR can't grow without funds. If you are willing to help, please contact me asap at vp@mana.org. We need you!

Free Membership For New Midwives

If you are a newly credentialed midwife or soon-to-be-credentialed midwife, don't forget to sign up for MANA's free one year membership honoring you and the hard work you have put in to achieve your goals. You are the future of the profession and we want you to know that you matter to MANA.

Thanks to Face of Birth

I want to take this opportunity to thank the producers of the amazing new video "The Face of Birth" for their generosity in supporting MANA. If you haven't had a chance to watch it, please do. Please visit and Like their Facebook page, too. To get a deeper feel for the passion behind the film, you can check out the blog on the MANA website that features an interview I did with one of the producers, Gavin Banks. The film was screened on the first night of our conference in St. Louis last fall, and shown again later in the weekend in response to many requests.

Join Us In Albuquerque!

Even though October seems far away during this long winter, the MANA 2015 conference is already taking shape. Abstracts are coming in and ideas are brewing. Make sure you find a way to join us in New Mexico!

Thank you for your midwifery passion and your dedication to families. And, thank you for your support of MANA - where all midwives matter. Feel free to contact me - in person at the conference, or by email vp@mana.org - with your ideas and visions for MANA.

 

About the author

Sarita Bennett, DO, CPM, grew up in a rural mountain culture that valued self-reliance and in which home birth was the norm. In the early 1980’s, she joined with other young midwives in her state to support one another and find sisterhood as they developed standards of care, risk factor guidelines and a well-honed peer review process. In 1994, Sarita found herself answering another calling and began her Osteopathic education at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. In 2001, she returned to her rural home town, providing home birth and general family practice until 2013, when she relocated to begin a new adventure. Along with her passion for midwifery, she discovered her gift for mentoring and is actively involved in educating future midwives through The Academy of Experiential Midwifery Education. Sarita served as secretary for the MANA Board of Directors from October 2011 until being elected as vice president in 2014.

Midwives Alliance: Celebrating What YOU Bring To Midwifery

Posted by Midwives Alliance on February 10th, 2015

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Midwives Alliance: Celebrating What YOU Bring To Midwifery

 

 

Midwives are NOT all the same, and MANA celebrates their difference. 

This drives our strategic priorities for 2015:

  • Support for midwives who wish to continue their fight for autonomous practice

  • Legalization of the CPM in all states

  • Access to training for all midwives to meet the unique needs of their communities

  • Equity in the profession and calling that is birth work.

We are proud that our volunteer board is composed of: CPMs, LMs, CNMs, a CM, and a DO, midwives from every educational pathway. We are working hard in a consensus model to help midwives have a stronger national voice and presence. 

Here’s how we want to work with you and for you in 2015.

Deeper connections to our membership.

We are planning many new ways for members to stay connected to MANA’s work in 2015!

  • Online workshops and webinars with CEUs,

  • Virtual Town Hall meetings to talk about issues of concern to midwives and to hear the voices of our members

  • Division of Research updates to share the exciting work of the DOR and to encourage everyone to learn about and contribute to data collection.

  • Ongoing improvements in our website to better reflect your interest in technology and social media as a tool for sharing information

  • Updating our essential documents and preparing more position papers on topics and issues of interest to midwives and clients, including waterbirth.

Representing YOUR voice at the national level.

The Midwives Alliance amplifies YOUR voice at national midwifery and public health conferences and in coalitions that bring partner midwifery organizations together such as US MERA and the Allied Midwifery Organization. To better represent you, I want to hear what matters to you! I personally would love to travel to your state and visit with your local organization and hear your concerns as we move into this year – the more we form a communication web the better we can address the hard repercussions of midwives in states where they are on the ground working for change.

Bringing together midwives from across the nation: MANA15!

Where else do ALL midwives come for nourishment, knowledge, skills and new perspectives? Please join us for YOUR midwifery gathering in Albuquerque October 15-18th, 2015: exciting speakers, gathering of indigenous midwives, free pre-conference skills workshops for students, trips in the glorious New Mexico landscape, fabulous merchants, and so much more! 

We have a dedicated local crew working hard to help make this year an enriching and memorable experience. In this time of ever expanding internet conferences and virtual meetings, MANA wants to remain a welcome place for midwives, birth workers, consumers and activists to come together and share their voices in person. We hope you will always think of the Midwives Alliance as your home, so we are working diligently to make sure you have a lovely fall gathering this year.

Welcoming YOU, your voice, and your skills to MANA.

I invite you to join the Midwives Alliance as a volunteer and as a member. It may seem impossibly daunting to work within a national organization, but I want to assure you that NEW voices are what we are looking for in 2015. MANA cannot be your voice unless you participate and we are dedicated to helping new voices become strong voices, so consider joining us as we hold the ground for "all midwives."

Tell me what matters most to you.

I hope you will feel free to contact me, any time, at president@mana.org. I want to hear from you and care deeply about your rights, as does the entire board of MANA. We need greater autonomy and justice within the profession, and as we move into 2015, The Midwives Alliance wants to continue to be the progressive organization that has always defended the rights of midwives to be distinct and autonomous practitioners. Midwives are THE solution to our maternity care crises in the United States and the world.

Thank you and Happy New Year!!

Marinah V. Farrell, CPM

President, Midwives Alliance of North America


Marinah FarrellAbout the author

Marinah Farrell is a CPM in Phoenix Arizona working in homebirth and birth center practices. She is recognized for her work in public health issues, is a founding member of Phoenix Allies for Community Health, a free clinic in downtown Phoenix., and participates as a human rights activist both in the U.S and internationally. Marinah is in her first term as MANA President.

Update from the States: Utah

Posted by Midwives Alliance on January 23rd, 2015

Understanding Utah's Out-of-Hospital Vital Statistics Report

Last week, the Utah Department of Health released a report based on a data review of planned out-of-hospital (OOH) births for the period between 2010 and 2012.

As outlined in the report, the out-of-hospital birth rate has doubled since 2007, but at 2.7%, remains a small fraction of the total number of births in Utah. Planned homebirths make up approximately 70% of the total number of OOH births, with the remainder occurring in birth centers around the state.The "average" mother choosing to birth at home or in a birth center is well-educated, older than the average mother choosing a hospital birth and more likely to have already had children.

Utah allows for the practice of midwifery with or without a license. Those midwives who choose to license must follow a nationally accepted course of study, pass a national midwifery certification exam, be certified in CPR and neonatal resuscitation as well as meet additional pharmacology requirements. An informed consent document, signed by the client and detailing the midwife's licensure status and potential risks is required for all licensed midwives.

Unlicensed midwives often follow an identical course of study as the licensed midwives, including passing the midwifery certification exam and becoming a certified professional midwife (CPM). Many unlicensed midwives are trained, educated and highly skilled. National practice guidelines include the use of informed consent documents, which should clearly state the training, level of experience and certifications/licenses of the midwife.

A finding of concern noted in the report was a neonatal mortality rate for out-of-hospital births that appears to be nearly double the rate for in-hospital births. While this finding deserves the attention of the maternity care community, it may be skewed by the relatively small numbers of home and birth center births and the even smaller number of adverse outcomes. Because this is a particularly small cohort, there are problems with extrapolation to the broader pool of all births. Nationally, much larger studies of planned, midwife attended OOH births with healthy low-risk women have shown the infant mortality rates to be comparable to hospital rates.Outlier data reports that are not consistent with the many other studies on homebirth indicate the need for further research.

Midwives welcome the use of reviewed data with an eye to quality assurance and practice assessment. We are interested in and supportive of a deeper dive into the data to ascertain whether or not a neonatal mortality rate of 2.3 per thousand live births is indicative of a potential problem related to site of birth, practice variations in risk assessment, or a result of an unusually small number of occurrences, thereby making the data unreliable. Reviewing Vital Statistics data rarely gives an accurate picture because of the limitations of the information collected on birth certificates. In this review for example there is no way to identify births of women with intent to deliver at home who ultimately delivered in the hospital. In other words, women who planned a homebirth and were transported to a hospital for delivery were included in hospital birth numbers. According to Dr. Melissa Cheney, PhD, Associate Professor at Oregon State University, "When we only track the actual place of birth and not the intended place of birth, we introduce error based on what we call misclassification bias. This is particularly concerning when we are dealing with rare events like death, even one or two misclassified events can result in inaccurate findings and misleading comparisons." She goes on to say, "I want to commend Utah for analyzing data on birth outcomes by delivery site and provider type. This is a very important part of maternity care safety surveillance, particularly as more and more women are choosing to give birth outside the hospital. I recommend that all states evaluate their current birth certificate relative to the state of Oregon's data collection tool. Simple changes have allowed us to more accurately track outcomes from planned home, hospital and birth center births. In addition, I would encourage the midwives of Utah to consider participation in the MANA Statistics Project. Use of a validated tool that controls for provider type and planning status can improve the quality of data we use to inform policy and practice."

In conclusion, while the presentation of the data has been somewhat sensationalized in the media, this report clearly demonstrates some of the many reasons more and more families are choosing out-of-hospital birth. Intervention rates are significantly lower, including inductions, C-Sections and epidurals. Families who want the considerable health benefits to mother and baby of physiologic birth, bonding and breastfeeding often seek midwifery care and home birth or birth center birth to achieve those goals. As more families learn about and choose out-of-hospital birth, the midwifery community continues to strive to make the experience as safe as possible.


About the author

Holly Richardson trained as an RN and LDEM (currently inactive) and oddly enough, is now a political junkie. She has served in the Utah House of Representatives and writes Holly on the Hill, one of the Utah's most popular political blogs. In her spare time, she consumes books voraciously, loves to garden and to sew and play with her 5 grandkids, 3 of whom she delivered.

New report recommendations point to midwifery care as optimal maternity care

Posted by Midwives Alliance on January 14th, 2015

Midwives have long been the guardians of normal physiologic birth, recognizing that labor often does not progress as efficiently and safely when interrupted by routine procedures or unnecessary interventions. Recent maternity care discussions within the professions and in the media have revolved around the benefits for mother and baby of allowing normal labor to progress on its own as safest and most conducive to satisfaction, bonding, breastfeeding and neurological development of the newborn. A new report from Childbirth Connections goes in depth to identify the hormonal processes that are critical not only to reproductive success but to long-term health of mother and baby. Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care provides compelling evidence that unnecessary medical interventions disturb these hormonal processes, reducing the benefits of physiologic pathways and creating new health challenges for mothers and newborns. Author Sarah Buckley describes the science of these innate hormonal systems that promote fetal readiness for birth, encourage safe and effective labor, reduce stress and pain, facilitate newborn and maternal transitions and adaptations, and optimize bonding and breastfeeding, among many effects. She discusses how routine procedures and medical interventions can interrupt and disrupt healthy labor and birth.

The report emphasizes the impact of how maternity care is delivered and makes concrete recommendations for improving care while still maintaining safety. Examining the recommendations closely reveals how appropriately midwives provide care and how support of physiologic birth is inherent to their practice. These recommendations, all components of midwifery care, include:

1. Provide education during pregnancy that builds women's confidence in their ability to labor and give birth without medical intervention that can pose additional risks.

2. Foster physiologic birth and safely limit maternity care interventions

3. Inform women about physiologic birth and involve them in their own care.

4. Limit routine practices and interventions to those that have proven benefits.

5. Provide prenatal care that reduces stress and anxiety

6. Foster privacy and reduce stress and anxiety during labor.

7. Employ non-pharmacological comfort measures for pain relief.

8. Provide continuous support during labor.

9. Facilitate spontaneous vaginal birth and immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and newborn.

Clearly, all of us can use the revelations in this report to better understand the impacts of our care and as midwives reassess our practices accordingly. Midwives have the knowledge, training and experience to support physiologic birth and have developed care models and practices around providing information, reducing stress, building confidence, allowing nature to take its time, and promoting healthy biologic processes and innate hormonal systems that this report shows are essential elements in the health and well-being of mothers and babies and families. What we now know from Unnatural Causes: "When the Bough Breaks" is that the stress hormones in pregnant women of color caused by the stress of daily engagements with racism may contribute to more complicated pregnancies and births, including prematurity and increased mortality and morbidity. The Buckley report's new information on the hormonal physiology of birth makes an even clearer case for the importance of access to culturally competent midwifery care for women of color as a way to address the disturbing and unacceptable disparity in outcomes for mothers and babies of color. Every woman deserves a midwife.

Take a look at the MANA Homebirth Position Paper that outlines the values that guide the practice of homebirth midwifery.

 


About the author

Jill Breen, CPM, CLC, has been serving women, babies and families for 36 years as a homebirth midwife and natural family health consultant in central Maine. She has 6 children and 8 grandchildren, all born into the hands of midwives including her own. She has served MANA in several capacities, most recently as President , and is currently Communications Chair. She is a member of the Home Birth Summit Collaboration Taskforce.

 

 

 

Social Media for Social Change!

Posted by Midwives Alliance on January 12th, 2015

Elevate your social media know-how while supporting the healthy birth movement.

 

Are you a birth junkie who uses social media to spread positive messages about childbirth options?

Are you a midwife, doula, maternal health advocate or mother looking to take your social media skills to the next level?

Would you like to support a national midwifery organization with a growing social media presence?

Midwives Alliance of North America is seeking applicants for a one year volunteer position as an Online Community Manager (OCM).

As a Midwives Alliance OCM, you will:

  • Receive a 4-6 week training in the comfort of your own home, led by a social media expert.

  • Learn the cutting edge tools and strategies that will help you spread your birth know-how, build your online credibility, enhance online relationships and mobilize people, and deepen your skills as a strategic community builder.

  • Learn to use social media strategically to spread messages about healthy pregnancy, birth, postpartum. breastfeeding, parenting, and midwives.

  • Work on a team with others that love social media and birth as much as you do!

Preferred applicants should:

  • Love social media!

  • Be familiar with and regularly use at least one social media platform (like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, blogging)

  • Love people!

  • Enjoy working in teams interacting with a diverse pool of online users, can be respectful to others even when there's controversy.

  • Love talking birth!

  • Have been known to "talk placentas" at a dinner party . . . and are familiar with current topics in midwifery, childbirth options and women's health issues.

  • Have time to learn and engage. The online training takes 2 hours a week for 4-6 weeks and will be conducted via interactive online platforms.

  • Have time to volunteer. Each OCM is expected to volunteer 2-3 hours per week on a MANA social media platform, with our startup time (February-March) and 2 other times per year being even more intensive.

  • Make a commitment. Because of this significant free training opportunity, the Midwives Alliance asks each volunteer to commit to being a MANA Online Community Manager for a one year term.

Trainings will be held on Tuesdays from 5:00p - 6:30p (Eastern Time). Participants must be available on those dates for the training sessions. The training will be recorded for birth professionals who miss the sessions due to births or family emergencies.

If you are interested - or know someone else who might be - please visit this link by January 30, 2015. Thank you. We look forward to working with you!