Justine Siegemund (1636-1705)

Art by Katya Granger (tumblr)

Although Justine never had children herself, she educated herself in obstetrics and began practicing as a midwife in 1659.  Justine began her career by offering her services for free to poor women.  Eventually she rose to prominence served as court midwife to the House of Hohenzollern (Brandenburg-Prussia).  Justine is said to have delivered almost 6,200 infants during the course of her career.

In 1690, Justine published The Court Midwife, the first medical text written by a woman in German.*  Formatted as a dialogue between Justine and a student named Christina, the book detailed solutions to problems such as shoulder presentation and a hemorrhaging placenta previa.  It also included embryological and anatomical engravings by Regnier de Graaf and Govard Bidloo.  The Court Midwife was published six more times in German between 1708 and 1756, although it was not published in English until 2007.

*Louise Bourgeois Boursier’s obstetrics textbook was translated into German, but written in French.

Women who suffer from anxiety disorders, chronic ailments, mental illness, or even women who are experiencing the completely natural fear of giving birth, have found that finding a phrase or ‘mantra’ to tell themselves during both pregnancy, birth, and the post-partum period can help control their mind and keep a handle on their anxieties and fears. To get the birth - and life - you want, you need to start focusing on what you want. Let go of your fears, doubts, and pessimistic thinking. And embrace what you want. Focus on it to the exclusion of all else. And guess what? It will come to you. Some affirmations to consider:

My baby is strong and healthy.

I trust my body.

I am a strong and capable woman.

I have patience.

My cervix is firm and strong to hold my baby safe.

I am at peace with the world.

There is no need for us to hurry.

I have an open heart.

I am strong and calm and beautiful.

Birth is a wonderful, safe experience.

My body knows exactly what to do

I trust my labor.

I am open to the energy of birth.

My baby is healthy.

I embrace the wisdom of my body.

I am surrounded by loving, nurturing support.

I trust my inner wisdom.

I fearlessly surrender to the power of my body.

My body is nourishing my baby perfectly.

I trust my knowing of what is true for me.

Pregnancy is a joy.

I feel good being pregnant.

I am whole and at peace.

My baby loves to breastfeed.

I love being pregnant.

I am aware of my balanced, calm center.

My body knows how to birth my baby.

I have everything I need.

My body becomes stronger and more flexible every day.

I listen to my body and my heart.

I am patient and composed.

I believe in birth.

I cooperate with my body and my baby.

My baby knows how to be born.

I put all fear aside as I prepare for the birth of my baby.

Untapped sources of strength are available to me.

I am relaxed and happy that my baby is finally coming to me.

My baby is free to choose her own destiny in the world.

I am focused on a smooth, easy birth.

I welcome my coming labor as the perfect one for me and my baby.

My mind is relaxed, my body is relaxed.

I am an active and powerful laboring woman.

I feel confident; I feel safe; I feel secure.

I welcome this opportunity to grow and change.

My muscles are working in complete harmony to make birthing easier.

I will relax as we move quickly and easily through each stage of birth.

My baby is in the perfect position for his/her birth.

My cervix opens outward and allows my baby to ease down.

I am a link in the endless chain of birthing women.

I fully relax and turn my birthing over to Nature.

I am willing to release my baby into the world.

I choose a gentle and natural birth.

I see my baby coming smoothly from my womb.

My breath is easy, deep, and full.

My baby will be born at the perfect moment.

I turn my birthing over to my baby and my body.

My body knows exactly what to do.

Each surge of my body brings my baby closer to me.

My body is wise and purposeful.

I can handle whatever comes up.

I trust my intuition.

My baby is safe.

I put all fear aside and welcome by baby with happiness and joy.

I love and trust my body.

I deserve and receive all the love and support I need.

I deserve a gentle, natural birth.

I claim my birthright for a wonderful birth.

I am a wonderful mother.

Louise Bourgeois Boursier (1563–1636)

Art by Zoe Kierce (tumblr)

Louise was the royal midwife to the court of Henry IV of France.  She delivered all six of Marie de Medici’s children, including Louis XIII.  After the delivery of the couple’s last child, Henrietta Maria, Henry IV awarded Louise an annual pension of 300 livres.

In 1609, Louise published a detailed obstetrics textbook which treated childbirth as a natural process requiring little intervention.  It was so popular that Louise published three expanded editions between 1617 and 1634.  It was also translated into Latin, German, Dutch, and English.  Louise’s book remained a standard text until the early 1700s.

agarota said:

What's the difference between a midwife and a doula?

A doula is a support person who offers emotional, physical, and informational support to people who are pregnant and choosing abortion, adoption, and parenting.  They can coach breathing, rub backs, provide information about medications and procedures, help out at someone’s home during the postpartum period by doing dishes, washing laundry, holding the baby, etc.  They know the labor and birth process front-to-back and know how to help people through it.  They are not medical providers though - they cannot diagnose, prescribe medication, or make medical management decisions.

Certified Nurse Midwives are nurses with specialized Masters training specifically in reproductive health and labor and birth.  They can prescribe medications, do annual exams, insert IUDs, deliver babies, and make medical management decisions.  They often work with doulas in order to provide their patients with the best possible care.  Many midwives were once doulas themselves, and know how to use the same tips and tricks and techniques to support their patients through labor and birth and the postpartum period while also managing their healthcare. 

Certified Nurse Midwives provide the same type of care in hospitals for laboring and delivering patients as Obstetrician Gynecologists and other doctors who delivery babies.  They are able to order epidurals, prescribe pain medications, induce labors, etc. for all low-risk patients.  If a patient has a complication that is outside of the midwife’s experience or scope of practice, the midwife will often work in tandem with a doctor to provide the best care possible.

Today, even where it is available, some employers may specifically exclude midwife care from their list of covered benefits; insurers may make little effort to include midwives in their networks, since they tend to focus on negotiations with large physician groups.

That is likely to change. The Affordable Care Act added birth centers and midwife care as mandatory Medicaid services, for example. Many health experts are recommending an expanded use of birthing centers as a cost-saving measure as well as in response to women’s demand.

No matter your type of provider (midwife, ob/gyn, etc.) ask informed consent questions when a procedure is suggested.  A way to remember:

  • B  Benefits of suggested procedure
  • R  Risks of suggested procedure
  • A  Alternatives — are there any or is this a policy thing?
  • N  Nothing. What happens if we do nothing?
  • D  Decision. If it’s not a flat out emergency you have time to make an empowered and informed decision.i

I’m having one of the happiest moments of my pregnancy yet, you guys. Do you see this? This beautiful room? It is one of four equally beautiful rooms at the birthing center which I just chose to deliver in. THAT MY INSURANCE COVERS!!!

All four rooms have similar setups~ a full bed, birthing pool, and plenty of space and seating for friends and family (This room is bigger yet in the other direction). 

You are given a doula (if you don’t already have one) who home cooks your meals and helps you with breastfeeding, etc. etc. Anything you need. If you stay two nights you get a massage! It’s beautiful as you can see, full of art and color, and it’s basically designed as a retreat for you to get comfortable with your new baby in a nurturing and loving “vacation” type setting. Sleeping, waking and eating on any schedule you choose. It’s close to the hospital I would deliver at too if I were choosing to, so that’s a comfort. 

And get this, the main midwife and founder of it is the mom of one of my middle school Waldorf friends! :P 

Once trained, a single midwife can provide care for 500 women every year, including safe delivery of 100 babies. In its report in April, Missing Midwives, Save the Children estimated that 350,000 more midwives are needed around the world to help reduce maternal and child deaths. But midwifery training is very expensive for most women in Africa.

venustic said:

Hi, I was wondering how one actually becomes an abortion doula. I understand that it's volunteer work, but do I need qualifications? Is there an age restriction (ex: 18+)? Lastly, how would I get started once I've met all the requirements?

Abortion doulas are the bomb!  Do it!

The idea of the abortion doula was started by The Doula Project of NYC. 

The Doula Project is a volunteer-run, collectively led organization of over fifty full-spectrum doulas. Our doulas have backgrounds as social justice activists, teachers, childbirth educators, birth doulas, social workers, and reproductive health professionals. We partner with Planned Parenthood Brooklyn, Planned Parenthood Bronx, several public hospitals, and other service providers to provide full-spectrum doula support to a diverse body of clients.

Almost immediately, other activists, birth works, and reproductive justice community members across the country realized how necessary and good this service was.



Read “How do I become an abortion doula” here, or find the doula program closest to you, and look up their application process and suggestions.

Most organizations will train you themselves.  Good luck!