midwiving

Trixie of Call the Midwife is very important to me because she’s so girly and flirtatious but she’s also clearly smart and a good friend and completely dedicated to her work like all the other midwives. I feel like she defies the stereotypes of characteristics that usually go along with beautiful women who love putting on lots of makeup and bleaching their hair and going out with lots of men by being such a kind, smart, and hardworking character.

There’s also an episode wherein she goes on a date with a minor celebrity who ends up being really sexually aggressive with her until she basically had to run away and the scene afterward shows the kind of internalized victim-blaming that can happen after that kind of sexual harassment while also showing her friends totally refusing to slut-shame/victim-blame her in the specific way that is really common when it comes to women who like to dress fancy/wear lots of makeup/go out with lots of different people.

I think Call the Midwife is one of the most feminist shows on TV while managing to be appealing to people like my very old-fashioned Mormon grandma.

So the NST went well.

At first she wasn’t cooperating very well, so they had me switch to my side and drink water which got her moving around. Her heart rate rose like it was supposed to, and everything looked good. The midwife we had today told us that the baby’s abdominal measurement was in the 21st percentile at the growth scan prior to this one, which was right on with her other measurements. She said while there may be an underlying issue if it continues to be <5% after the next growth scan, it’s more likely that baby wasn’t positioned right or that our last measurement was just off. I’m going to continue the NSTs with the midwives and growth scans with MFM for now, and we’ll see how things progress.

My blood pressure was high with both readings today, and we discussed the possibility of blood pressure meds. She said she hasn’t seen a steady enough rise to warrant them yet, but if it does continue to be high or if my at home readings increase too much they will consider regulating it with meds. Since I’ve been having headaches, they decided to send me for more blood work. It could just be pregnancy induced hypertension, but she wants to rule out preeclampsia if possible. So I’m waiting now for blood work, and they’ll call only if anything is abnormal.

Women have always been healers. They were the unlicensed doctors and anatomists of Western history. They were abortionists, nurses, and counselors. They were pharmacists, cultivating healing herbs and exchanging secrets of their uses. They were midwives, travelling from home to home and village to village. For centuries women were doctors without degrees, barred from books and lectures, learning from each other, and passing on experience from neighbor to neighbor and mother to daughter. They were called “wise women” by the people, witches or charlatans by the authorities. Medicine is part of our heritage as women, our history, our birthright.
—  Witches Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers - Barbara Ehrenreich & Deirdre English

18th Century Midwife Teaching Model

Angélique-Marguerite du Coudray was a famous 18th century midwife and designed this medical model to teach midwife trainees about delivering babies. Louis XV learned of her expertise and asked her to set up courses throughout France. From 1759-1779, she traveled the country with her mannequin and published her Abridged Art of Chid Delivery.

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"Midwives are the unsung heroes of maternal and newborn health. They can prevent about two thirds of deaths among women and newborns. And midwives deliver much more than babies: They are the connective tissue for communities, helping women and girls care for their health, from family planning all the way through the postpartum period."

––United Nations Population Fund

Learn more about the State of the World’s Midwifery, and stand up for women’s health!

Photos: Jhpiego/Kate Holt

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Disaster-Zone Midwives

Nearly a year after Typhoon Haiyan devastated central Philippines, the disaster is not over. An estimated 230,000 pregnant women live in affected areas, while over 800 women, often malnourished and suffering dehydration, high blood pressure, extreme trauma, inadequate shelter and lack of transportation give birth every day. There is limited or no access to emergency obstetric care. While the Philippine Rural and Municipal Health Centers are rebuilding they are crowded with the sick and injured, charge for maternity services and many maternity patients express not having a good experience there.

Under a canvas tent, in the skeleton of a destroyed elementary school, the organizations Bumi Sehat Foundation International and WADAH Foundation came together under the leadership of an American midwife, Robin Lim, to create Bumi Wadah birthing clinic in the township of Dulag, outside of Tacloban City in the Visayas. At this time it is the only clean, free, 24 hour maternity service. Laboring mothers travel from villages often hours away. Ms. Lim, along with local Filipina midwives and a rotation of foreign midwives, offer free prenatal care, birthing services and medical aid, delivering over 100 babies a month, without electricity or running water.

Reportage photographer Dana Romanoff visited Ms. Lim’s birthing clinic earlier this year, documenting their efforts to provide services in a region where infrastructure has fallen apart. See more images from this series on the Reportage website.

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One thing that really gets to me is the depiction of childbirth in the media and therefore the general idea of what it’s like to give birth - this idea tends to involve screaming and swearing women with scared partners, doctors yelling “PUSH!” while mom is on her back and then babies being whisked away by nurses. But birth does not have to be a traumatizing event.

This birth video is so beautiful and the woman is so relaxed that I would never have guessed her to be in the final phase of birth, ready to push. The process was left entirely up to her body, she knew when to push, she was not lying on her back, and no doctors or nurses were hovering because she knew exactly what to do. And dad was right there involved like a pro, even having skin-to-skin and sharing an herbal bath with babe. All measurements were done right there with mom, baby was never whisked away, breastfeeding was initiated almost immediately. This. This is birth.

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.

thiswomanwageswar asked:

I was wondering if you’d be able to find any information on medieval wounds (e.g. arrow, sword, sickness) and how they were treated? I’m particularly interested in (what I believe were termed) apothecaries.

For a brief rundown of the time periods discussed in this answer, please refer to this post on the breakdown of medieval historical ages. This is particularly important because medical theory and treatment differed significantly in the Late Middle Ages compared to Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages. Both draw on the teachings of Galen (129 AD - 200 AD), a classical physician responsible for spread of humoral theory; however, widespread practice and teaching of humoral theory in the Middle Ages was not revived in Europe until after the twelfth century.

What is humoral theory?

Humoral theory, or the belief that the body is divided into four humors which determine temperament and health, was the cornerstone of medieval medical practice. In the Late Middle Ages, physicians employed humoral theory in their treatment of diseases. Diseases and personality traits were explained through an imbalance or concentration of one humor in favor of another.

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Common treatments using humoral theory include the application of heat (to treat an overbalance of Phlegm or Black bile) or bloodletting (to counteract a disease of the liver/over concentration of Blood). Sometimes, physicians would prescribe specific diets to counteract the disease. Someone who was sweating and feverish (wet and hot) would be made to eat cold and dry foods.

Crucial to the proliferation of medieval texts on humoral theory was The Canon of Medicine, an eleventh-century encyclopedia of medicine by the Persian philosopher Avicenna. In the Early Middle Ages, in the wake of the fall of Rome and widespread decentralization, most of the medical texts were either lost or not copied. The years after the First Crusade witnessed the flood of scientific and medical literature into Europe from Islamic lands, where the Greco-Roman medical tradition had been preserved. Avicenna’s Canon was essential in reintroducing humoral theory to Europe. With the knowledge from Arabic texts and those precious codices that had survived in monasteries in Europe, the Schola Medica Salernitana in Salerno, Italy was founded. It was Europe’s first medical school, and it taught humoral theory.

For more information on humoral theory in treating diseases and diet, see the links below:

http://evolutionarypsychiatry.blogspot.com/2011/06/humoral-theory-of-disease-ancient.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5sVJObsLVo

[Note: these links concern either Late Medieval Medicine or humoral theory in the Classical world.]

Herbal Treatment

Medieval medical practitioners employed a variety of herbal techniques in the treatment of diseases and wounds. The most common cures included herb-infused teas, poultices (for rashes or wounds), ointments, and salves. Often, heat was used in conjunction with the herbal treatment. For example, to dispel a fever, the doctor or midwife might wrap the patient in blankets and light a fire in the room.

When treating wounds from an arrow or sword, doctors understood that loss of too much blood could lead to death. As part of their training, knights and squires gained a basic knowledge of treating wounds on the battlefield, including wrapping the wound in cloth (although, they had no knowledge of germ theory, so the cloths were not necessarily clean). Off the battlefield, the injured would be treated by one of the professionals mentioned below. In addition to herbal remedies, a physician might cauterize the wound to prevent further bleeding.

Throughout human history, herbs have been the basis for most medicine. Medieval doctors, nurses, and midwives made use of herbs, drawing on knowledge preserved either in books called Herbals or through oral tradition. The medieval recipes that have survived contain both herbs and animal products, such as ground bones, milk, or fat. Honey and chamomile are two plant products that are often repeated throughout medieval recipes. This link provides a list of herbal associations. Also, check out the Medieval Herb List.

Many of the recipes that have survived are often paired in the same manuscript as devotional material. At the same time that a poultice was applied, the medical practitioner and the sick would recite a prayer to God. Disease was ultimately caused by the will of God. Medieval people often prayed or gave confession to ensure their recovery. Health and piety were clearly linked in the medieval mindset. One author, Henry of Lancaster, composed his own book of medicine to cure the soul, Le Livre de seyntz medicines (The Book of Holy Medicines). In it, Henry links curing a headache to curing oneself of sin, drawing on imagery of the Virgin Mary in his recipe for an herbal cure. Part of this culture included going on pilgrimage to purge oneself of disease.

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Happy National Midwifery Week!!!!

Watch this awesome video from the ACNM, the American College of Nurse Midwives.  (And put on your cis-phones to switch each time they say “women” to “people”.)

Then there were those girls who became midwives: girls who could not get enough of the tiniest of babies - girls who would grow into women who absolutely reveled in the magnificent process of birth.
The difference between a woman who becomes an OB and the women who becomes and midwife has less to do with education, philosophy or upbringing than with the depth of her appreciation for the miracle of labor and for life in its moment of emergence.
—  Chris Bohjalian, Midwives 

My placenta print - one of my favorite keepsakes from Cohen’s birth. A lot of people get freaked out at even the word placenta, but I don’t know why because placentas are really. cool. organs. They’re the tree of life! They are literally the life source of your unborn child and that is their only purpose. Plus you can end up with cool pictures like this and/or a natural PPD remedy if ingested or encapsulated. I am forever grateful to my midwives for including placenta prints as part of their routine birth care because I never would have asked for it, or even have known to ask for it. I didn’t even know such a thing existed - I didn’t do too much research into placentas and, frankly, I was only 20. I was already going against the grain so deeply in comparison to other pregnant mama’s my age with my natural birth and birth center and midwives and breastfeeding and anti-circumcision and co-sleeping…I was easing into my crunchy mama role and placenta are pretty far into the “crunchy mom” spectrum.