Birth Around the World Series premiere May 5th

It’s with great joy and excitement that we announce the premiere of Birth Around the World Series – “Parto pelo Mundo” on May 5th at 11pm on GNT!a local TV channel from Brazil!!
Produced by Cinevideo Produções

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Childbirth, anywhere in the world, is a remarkable event that deeply transforms the lives of all involved. An experience that is both common and distinct to all human beings in each and every society.

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The series “Parto pelo Mundo” (Birth Around the World) presents the many facets of birth through a journey around the world.

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Mayra Calvette, a nurse-midwife, and her husband, Enrico Ferrari, embarked on an adventurous journey, which lasted the period of a pregnancy, visiting 25 countries for over nine months.

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This new TV series is the result of this experience. It is an intimate, unique and personal record of various societies and how birth happens around the globe. Different points of view guided by the same concerns of a healthy, happy and safe birth for both mother and baby.

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The couple visited many dwellings and saw children being born in the middle of rice fields in Camboja, others being blessed by butter in Tibet, as well as many more being born in hospital with all the leading technology available today.

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They’ve interviewed physicians, nurses, midwives, doulas, fathers and mothers. Women who have revolutionized the health system in New Zealand and those who’ve decided to live in the margins of healthcare in the United States. Furthermore, they’ve investigated the big movement that is currently happening in their home country, Brazil.

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Shonan Atsugi

College of Midwives

Visiting clinics, maternity homes, hospitals, villas and residences they’ve created a valuable memoir that displays the birth features of many nations. Interviews were recorded, vídeos, photos, and a travel journal were produced gathering important data of the healthcare system of each one of the country’s visited.

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This quest has been intertwined with common activities of a newlywed couple who travels the world experiencing different cultures, practicing sports and viewing unforgettable places of our planet.

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Mayra and Enrico are now back to their homeland to share this experience. “Parto pelo Mundo” is a new look at the world we live in by the way we’ve got into it.

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Join us, be inspired and part of this movement!

Together we are stronger!

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Interview to NT Repórter

Nessa entrevista eu e Enrico compartilhamos um pouco sobre o parto pelo mundo. Essa matéria também traz informações sobre a escola de obstetrícia da USP e a experiência de uma senhora que teve experiência negativas de seus partos.
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Nepal

Cars and motorbikes everywhere, horning all the time! The taxi driver had to swerve because there was a cow in the middle of the street, lounging in the sun, in the midle of urban chaos of Kathmandu, Nepal. The cow is a sacred animal in Nepal. Kathmandu is the capital and most populous city.

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We visited many temples and got to know about the culture, religion and customs. The agriculture-based economy. The main religions are Hinduism (80%) and Buddhism (10%).

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Home birth assisted by traditional midwives is still very common, especially in the remote villages where the access is limited, with the total of 82% home birth in the country, in urban areas is about 50% (2006), but the conditions are not very favorable, with lack of access to hospital if necessary, lack of training and materials.

There is a great incentive for mother give birth in institutions, the care is free and the mothers receive 1000 rupi ($ 10) for the birth, but they only receive after birth. This is a way they found to increase births in hospital and achieve the Millennium Development Goal number 5 of the UN, which is three-quarters of decreasing maternal mortality by 2015. The maternal mortality rate went down from 539 (1996) to 281 (2006) per 100,000 live births (2006), neonatal mortality is 33 per 1000 live births. The c-section rate is very low, about 2.9% (2006), which shows a lack of access to hospitals. Moreover the rate in urban areas is higher, and some are elective c-section.

I went to hospital in central Kathmandu where the nurse took me for a visit at the Birth rooms, postpartum rooms and also to see the Kangaroo careroom.

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I took off my shoes and put a specific one and walked into the Birth room. There were several women in labor with a companion, separated by plastic partitions. I attended two births in a period of 40 minutes. The midwives attend all deliveries. But I felt the saw a mechanic interventionist care. Then they invited me for a tea and I could talk a little more with them. They knew nothing of humanized birth, natural methods of pain relief, different positions for birth. One of the nurses even made an elective caesarean of her daughter, who is now 1 year, so I don’t need to “suffer,” she said. I spoke to them about humanized childbirth that they could adopt, that happens in developed countries and brings many benefits to mother, babies and greater satisfaction for the professional as well! They were interested with this idea.

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In the middle of traffic, the cab, I interviewed the president of Midwives Society of of Nepal (Midson). It is a new organization and they are planning on courses for direct entry midwives. Another goal is to humanize birth assistance during birth which is still a very new idea in the hospitals. They also want to replace the lay midwives by professionals midwives in rural areas.

I visited the only birth center of Nepal Aadharbhut Prasuti Sewa (APS), a non-profit NGO established in July 2007. I was very well received by the local midwife, who is one of the founders, and also by a volunteer midwife from England.

They provide care to women and children, including prenatal, birth, postpartum and family planning. It is also a training center for midwives and students, because education is very limited. The major goal is the reduction of maternal and neonatal mortality in Nepal.

They told me that women do not usually get naked during labor, they just lift the skirt when the baby is born. Childbirth happens with the woman lying in bed, but are learning about humanization of childbirth. The water birth is not an option due to lack of water, but also women do not like to be naked. After a few hours the mothers go home and almost all breastfeed their babies.

There are many rituals involved during childbirth, which is the one of the most important rites of passage. Among the Newars, the ethnic group that lives in the Kathmandu valley, the mother gives birth in a dark and quiet room. After birth mother and baby are in retreat in the room for few days. The midwife, Aji, also makes prayers and invokes the protective influence of the Goddess. The placenta is called ‘bush-co-satthi’ which means friend of the baby, she is usually buried. Between four and twelve days after the birth happens a ritual where the baby is formally presented to his family and gets its name. Mothers learn to massage their babies from their mothers.

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I hope that Nepal achieves the Millennium Development Goal of the United Nations, and more women have access to healthy food, clean water, and also to health facilities and c-section when they are necessary, but that humanized care can be provided and traditions are preserved, because this is the richness of each culture.

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Published at Gisele’s Blog

The Happiness in the Kingdom of Bhutan

I could feel the place’s peace rigth the way. A feeling as if I had returned to the past in a time machine. A typical small airport, but the only international airport in the country. Our guide and driver welcomed us with great gentleness and tranquility. You need a guide and driver to be allowed in the country, tourism is very organized and restricted.

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Bhutan is located between China to the north and west, and India to the east and south. It is a small and curious country, with a population of about 700000 inhabitants. The most important index is the Gross National Happiness (GNH). Being possible to assess the country in a sustainable and less materialistic way. The country has a constitutional monarchy, with the King very respected and popular.

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We visited beautiful places, like Taktshang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest. The temple was built in the 17th century, the cave where Guru Padmasambhava, who is said to have meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the 8th century. The influence of Buddhism is evident, the culture is focused on Buddhist philosophy and the preservation of Bhutanese traditions.

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On the return of Tiger’s Nest journey there were some women selling some typical products and I asked them how the babies are born there. They said, a little embarrassed to talk about it, they were born at home with the help of the grandmother or another experienced woman who has gone through the experience, they traditionally do not have midwives as profession. I asked her position and showed the kneeling position supported in front.

Home birth is still very common, the introduction of childbirth at hospitals is still very recent. There is an incentive for women to have their babies in hospital. Time was short, but I managed to visit the hospital in the capital. Even the hospital has typical construction. Birth happens in the delivery room, in gynecological position, with a typical and “modern” hospital care, with a certain coldness, as if it were a sign of modernization.

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After knowing the Takin, typical animal of Bhutan, my perception was confirmed through an interview with a traditional family who lived near the takins. They chose to have their babies at home, even living near the hospital. We talked while they were still loom. The grandmother was the one who attended the births, was very important to have her mother by her side. They felt that the house was very cozy and were more hesitant to go to the hospital, on a cold and unfamiliar, strange people that often treat women badly during childbirth, as they heard. The placenta is sacred and most often buried in a special place, where it will be protected from other animals. Maternal mortality is still very high, there are still many villages in remote areas without access to the health center if necessary.

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Bhutan was one of the countries that I was mostly enchanted, with their traditions still very alive, as well as the conservation of nature, culture and simplicity of life. But we feel that the modernization process is happening quickly. Young people are very attracted to the western lifestyle, television, internet, Hollywood movies, parties. It was one of the last countries to open up to internet and television in 1999, for example. One concern of the King, who warned that the misuse of television could erode Bhutanese values and traditions.

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It is a challenge to achieve this balance with tradition and modernization, including childbirth, where modernization can increase safety and that the traditions are kept during this important moment that is Birth.

Birth Rate: 18.75 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Maternal Mortality: 180 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
Infant Mortality: 42.17 deaths/1,000 live births (2010)
Neonatal Mortality: 33 deaths/1, 000 live births (2009)

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Published at Gisele’s Blog

Stork Network – Towards a new model of care

Brazil is currently undergoing major changes in obstetric care. The movement for childbirth humanization is growing and getting stronger every day.

To give the necessary assistance to pregnant women and their children, the Ministry of Health launched in March 2011, the Stork Network strategy, composed of a set of measures to ensure all Brazilians, from the SUS (Brazilian public health system), adequate, safe and humane assistance from confirmation of pregnancy, through prenatal and childbirth, until the first two years of baby’s life. All Brazilian states have joined the Stork Network strategy.

The Stork Network, established under the National Public Health System, is a network of care that aims to ensure women’s right to reproductive planning and humanized assistance during pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and abortion, as well for the child’s rights of a safe birth and healthy growth and development.

The Ministry of Health is investing $ 4,640 billion until 2014. These funds are invested in building a network care for women and children. “We have to build a welcoming environment for women to feel more secure at this time and, therefore, it is necessary to qualify the physical space and changing practices,” emphasizes the technical area coordinator of Women’s Health, Esther Vilela.

Prenatal care is a priority in the Basic Health Units (BHU). This is where the realization of all the care and prenatal testing happen. Also, at this time, the woman will make the link with maternity and will know, from the first months, where she will have her baby. Because what happens sometimes in Brazil is the lack of vacancies in public maternities, and the pregnant woman has to go from one place to another in labor.

During childbirth Stork Network qualifies health teams to provide humanized and skilled service. There’s a reception with risk classification, comfortable and safe environment for the woman and baby, focusing on quality and humanization of childbirth. A woman has the right to have a companion during labor and special assistance in the event of a high risk pregnancy. Furthermore, the strategy ensures humanized attention to women in an abortion situation. The Stork Network is funding 100% of the construction and funding of Birth Centers and House of the mother, baby and puerpera, 80% of funding for expansion and qualification of beds (ICU, Kangaroo care) and funding the ambience for delivery room in the hospitals, so they can be more welcoming and have “PPP” room (pre birth, birth and postpartum) for the woman in labor to stay in the same room during the process of giving birth.

During the postpartum, Stork Network accompanies the growth and development of children from 0-24 months of age. There is guidance on all necessary care for the woman and her baby, promoting breastfeeding and monitoring of the vaccination calendar. Additionally, moms can have access to information and availability of family planning methods, consultations and educational activities.

Let’s be part of this change! We must take the moment and the Federal Government investment! For this we need committed people who take this project forward so that the Stork Network strategy can be implemented in your city! The world is made of people, we need to make our part so the change can take place.

Learnings and challenges in Cambodia

I went through the incredible temples of Angkor and the countryside. Cambodia is a country where cultures and traditions still very alive. At the same time it has a sad story of profound suffering, with the Khmer Rouge regime, where about two million people were killed.

I volunteered in the organization Women’s Health Cambodia. It is a non-profit NGO, based in the province of Takeo. The organization began to bring kindness to women. The focus is children and women’s health, but also includes the whole community.

Childbirth in Cambodia is not just the moment of birth, but the whole process of pregnancy, birth and postpartum recovery. Many women are cared by traditional birth atenders “chmâp boran”. The delivery is undergoing a process of hospitalization, but the conditions still very poor. Maternal mortality is estimated to be 250 per 100,000 live births.

In villages that I did volunteer work, the births took place at the health center. Women would walk around quietly during labor, the family was around. I would massage the mother’s back, but that close contact is not common for them. During birth no family member were allowed. The woman has the baby lying on her back and the cord is cut immediately after delivery. The midwife was not very gentle with the mothers, who are afraid to express themselves.

I learned a lot with postpartum visits at the families’ houses. All the neighbors gathered, curious to know what was happening. Traditional houses are made of palm leaves covering around the house and on the roof, wood is the support of the house. We would check mother and baby, but also see the entire family context. Where do they live? Do they have enough food? Do they have support?

Cambodians believe that the female body becomes cold after childbirth. They have different ways to warm the body, even if the weather is very hot. A woman shouldn’t bathe for a few days to a week after childbirth; should keep the body covered from head to toes; eat foods that warm the body, about 90% of families make “ang pleong” or rosting, which is a fire under the bamboo beds where women and babies lie, which sometimes extends for 10 days, to prevent back pain in the future and improve the skin. The postpartum rituals serve to prevent what they call “Tos” short and long term postpartum problems.

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They do not question about breastfeeding. I also didn’t see any baby with pacifier or diaper! He is covered by a piece of cloth, gloves and a mosquito net. They use the “Tiger Balm” cream in the belly of babies that is covered with a plastic that warms the tummy and also irritates it. In every house we found a knife located behind the baby’s head, which serves to protect him from evil spirits. Also is not nice to praise children because they believe it attracts evil spirits.

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We live such a different life. Many things for us would apparently be so necessary, but for them would not make much difference. It is a challenge to work in a way that you help without interfering too much.

Kindness – that’s what they really need and is the heart of the organization. A sincere smile, holding the hand of women during childbirth, massage her back. So the wound can be healed little by little and people can trust and love each other.

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First Published at Gisele’s Blog

Gentle Birth March

Published Agust 3rd Publicado no dia 3 de agosto no Blog da Gisele , escrito por Mayra Calvette

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Gentle Birth: This is the way!

Birth is often seen as a complex medical procedure, in which woman and baby are often subject to routines and procedures imposed by the hospital, which are often unnecessary and harmful.

Fortunately, more and more women are realizing about the “Obstetric Matrix ” that they are inserted into and they are doing informed choices. These choices often are not the common pattern of the society, but which are best for this woman, baby and family. Many choose for a home birth, to be cared by doulas, midwives and obstetric nurses. And unlike what most people think, those are choices that are in accordance with the current scientific research.

In July Regional Council of Medicine of Rio de Janeiro (CREMERJ) published the resolutions nº 265/2012 and 266/2012 which prohibits the involvement of obstetricians in home births and the presence of doulas and midwives in hospital births. These resolutions disregard the most current scientific evidence, the recommendations of WHO and the Ministry of Health. Furthermore, these resolutions do not respect the right of freedom of choice of women, families and from the professionals themselves.

The recommendation of the systematic review of the Cochrane Library (which includes the most current scientific research in health) is that should be offered a model of care promoted by midwives to most women and they should be encouraged to claim this option. In the evaluation of the Cochrane systematic review was concluded that hospitals should implement continuous support intrapartum, integrating doulas in maternity services, since the best maternal and neonatal outcomes are obtained when the continuous intrapartum support is offered by doulas.

I traveled through several countries, meeting different cultures and birth models that work. I realized that the most socially developed countries tend to offer a humane and woman-centered care. Pregnant women have the right to choose their companions during childbirth, are encouraged to have a doula and a birth plan; have the same room for labour, birth and post partum; are part of the of the decision process making and can deny any procedure with her and her baby; have freedom of movement and can choose the position they want have their babies.

The care during labor and birth for low-risk pregnancies is based on obstetrics nurse and midwife and they have the work in a cooperation model of care with obstetricians. Some of these countries I visited, where they are the major care during low risk pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum are: England, Germany, Holland, Austria, Sweden and New Zealand. And all of these countries have excellent rates of maternal and neonatal mortality and cesarean rates much lower than Brazil (2008 data): 24%, 27.8%, 14%, 27%, 17%, 20%, respectively. While in Brazil the rates are 52% of c-sections, 82% in the private sector, the highest rates of c-sections in the world and 25% of women experience violence in obstetric hospitals!

Fortunately the CREMERJ resolutions were suspended on July 30 until the final decision. On Sunday, August 05 will happen a March for the Humanization of Childbirth in some Brazilian cities, including Rio de Janeiro. I invite everyone to participate, I’ll be there at Ipanema beach, at 2 pm!
Let’s move forward Brazil!

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Birth in the “Roof of the World”

Published at Gisele’s Blog By Mayra Calvette

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After a wonderful flight by the Himalayan Mountains, passing by Mount Everest, we reach the “roof of the world”, Tibet. The wind was cold and biting! But we had a warm welcome from our guide. She gave us a super smile and a white scarf , called Kata, for good luck.

The Tibetan culture is rich, full of meanings, beliefs, rituals and traditions. Mantras, prayer wheels, prayer around the temples, receiving blessing from monks or lamas, butter tea. It’s a way to stay connected to spiritual life and give continuity of Tibetan culture,

The birth is part of the natural cycle of life. The belief in reincarnation is closely related to this moment. Be born as a human being is a sign of good luck. It is believed that is good that the woman purifies herself and be open to conceive, the kind of baby that the mother will attract depends on her karmic state, so the spirit will be attracted by the energies of the parents. The pregnant woman is at a special moment of her life, with access to higher dimensions, her dreams have special meanings. During labor there are rituals for the delivery is quick and easy. Sometimes the mother eats butter blessed by Lama to facilitate their delivery and provide energy.

The home delivery is common in Tibet, especially in rural areas. But in the local market in Lhasa, I spoke with several women and found that many of them had their babies at home with the help of a more experienced woman. The cost of the hospital is very high for their life standard, they also feel more comfortable at home and traditions are respected. I had the opportunity to interview the mother of our guide and meet her baby girl of four months old. They received with the famous butter tea.

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They lived in the rice fields before moving to Lhasa. She had eight children, all born at home, and in seven of them she was alone. She also helped other women during childbirth. She said that more experienced women help each other, but there are no midwives. She said that after the first one she already knew how to do and also they came very fast and easy. She continued to do her chores at home and in the rice fields. When the contractions became stronger she went home and the baby was born. For all babies she was standing with knees bent and leaning way forward. Women wear long skirts. As she was alone at seven birth, she used to raise the front of the skirt and hold the rear. The baby fell on that net. She cut the umbilical cord after the delivery of the placenta, which felt off soon after birth. After delivery, women drink butter tea to soothe and warm the body. Keep the woman warm during labor, birth and postpartum is essential.

They wrap the baby in used clothes from the parents, because is more comfortable. The placenta is buried or thrown into the river. The process of burying the placenta, shows respect for that organ that has nourished the baby inside the womb. It is buried in “white” place, far away where other animals cannot eat. The cord is often kept to protect the baby from evil spirits. The whole neighborhood knows that the baby is born. But the ceremony begins on the third day of life for boy and forth day if it’s a girl.

Many parents take their baby to be blessed and receive the name of the Lama. So he will have a greater connection with the whole during his life on earth.

Unfortunately, the Tibetan culture is getting lost over the years. Tibet is part of Chinese territory. We could see clearly the Chinese repression there, especially Lhasa, where we were. All outdoors are written in Chinese and Tibetan with smaller letters. At school, the language and vocabulary taught is the Chinese. The children only speak Tibetan if parents speak at home. The temples of Lhasa are turning into museum. The new generation is much more fascinated by the temptations of the modern world than in keeping the ancient traditions.

With the birth would be no different. Many of the women in town have their babies in the Chinese hospital. The preference for vaginal delivery is almost general. Our guide had a four months old baby. She had a normal delivery at the hospital. She confessed that was not a very good experience for her. The professionals were not kind and she could not have any companion during labor and delivery. She had her baby in the gynecological position (lying down with legs up). And had her perineum cut by an episiotomy that left her unable to walk straight for a month.

In the reality I have known, Tibetans live in two extremes: cold, mechanized and often traumatic hospital birth, but that brings more security; and traditional birth at home, more cozy, that respects the nature of childbirth and the Tibetan traditions, but that brings its risks for the lack of basic safety precautions and hygiene.

“We can only conclude that there must be something seriously wrong with our progress and development, and if we do not check it in time there could be disastrous consequences for the future of humanity.” Dalai Lama

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Home Birth March

First published at Gisele’s Blog, written by Mayra Calvette

Gisele Bündchen e Mayra Calvette

June was historic for the Humanization of Childbirth in Brazil.

One of the most popular TV program from Brazil, Fantástico, had a report about home birth on the 10th June. It showed a beautiful home birth video, with a midwife, two doulas and a neonatologist accompaniment.

The obstetrician Dr. Jorge Kuhn, spoke respectfully in favor of home birth as an option for low risk pregnancies. On the following Monday, the Regional Medicine Council of Rio de Janeiro – CREMERJ – opened a complaint against the doctor.

The movement for birth humanization in Brazil has grown in geometric progression. Every day many adherents. Every day more women empowered and sharing their experience. The complaint of this doctor, an advocate for a gentle birth, was the push for a great movement. The news quickly spread throughout Brazil, mainly through social networks.

Within a week thousands of people were organized in several cities of Brazil, to make the first Home Birth March. At the end of next week, June 16 and 17, around 5000 people in over 30 cities in Brazil were part of this revolution. Only in Sao Paulo were in 1500 women, parents, children and professionals marching for the rights of choice and freedom!

I shivered to see the strength of the movement and how quickly it spread. This is the advantage of being connected by an ideal and with the help of social media.

This march was similar with what happened in some other countries, 30 years ago in England and 20 years ago in New Zealand. Now it’s Brazil’s time!

Gisele Bündchen e Mayra Calvette

This was a march for the freedom of choice and respect for women and babies during birth. Women have the right to choose how and where they want to give birth, with correct information, respect and appropriate orientations. A march for women who have low-risk pregnancies and want home birth are not seen as inconsequential and people who put their lives and their babies lives at risk. For doctors, nurses, obstetricians, midwives and doulas who support these women not to be seen and treated as outcasts.

The safety of home birth should no longer be under discussion, since many studies show it’s safe for low risk pregnancies, accompanied by qualified professional and a referral hospital. No wonder that in some developed countries this is an option that is part of the health system.

We want to clarify that we don’t want to convince anybody to have a homebirth, we want to show one more option. If you have any kind of fear, of uncertainty, if you have any disease, if your prenatal indicate any problem – the best place to have your baby is at the hospital.

We are not protesting against the hospital birth. We are protesting against the violence during childbirth, whether emotional or physical. A study in Brazil showed that 25% of Brazilian women suffer some kind of violence during childbirth. We want women to be respected, to receive a loving care wherever they choose to have their baby – at home, in the hospital or birth center.

Respect for Birth is respect for woman and baby!

May we one day ensure that all women have the rights for a gentle, respectful and private birth, without suffering and no damage to their body and their baby, wherever they wish to birth them.

“Never doubt that a small group of aware and engaged people can change the world.” Margaret Mead

Special Video from the Home Birth March
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The Midwife as Status Symbol

Article published at NY Times

“BESIDES being impossibly gorgeous mothers, what else do Christy Turlington, Karolina Kurkova and Gisele Bündchen have in common?

Each could probably afford to buy her own private wing at a hospital, but instead of going to a top-notch obstetrician, all chose a midwife to deliver their babies.

“When I met my midwife, her whole approach felt closer to home,” said Ms. Turlington, who delivered both her children — Grace, 9, and Finn, 6 — with a midwife at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, one with the help of an obstetrician because of complications. A former model, she founded Every Mother Counts, a nonprofit organization devoted to maternal health. “I knew I wanted a natural childbirth.”

Are midwives becoming trendy, like juice cleanses and Tom’s shoes? It seems that way, at least among certain well-dressed pockets of New York society, where midwifery is no longer seen as a weird, fringe practice favored by crunchy types, but as an enlightened, more natural choice for the famous and fashionable. “The perception of midwives has completely shifted,” said Dr. Jacques Moritz, director of the gynecology division at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt and a consulting obstetrician for three midwife practices. “It used to be just the hippies who wanted to go to midwives. Now it’s the women in the red-bottom shoes.”

And like any status symbol, a pecking order has emerged. Just as getting your toddler into the right preschool requires social maneuvering, getting into a boutique midwifery clinic has become competitive.

“We constantly have to turn women away,” said Sylvie Blaustein, the founder of Midwifery of Manhattan, a practice on West 58th Street that has its share of well-heeled clients. Opened in 2003, the practice now has six midwives on staff. “Because of the quality of care, we can only deliver about 20 babies a month.”

“It sounds bizarre,” Ms. Blaustein added, “but midwifery has become quote-unquote trendy.”

Like obstetricians, midwives are medically trained and licensed to deliver babies. The main practical difference is that only obstetricians can perform surgeries, including Caesarean sections, and oversee high-risk pregnancies. On the other hand, midwives tend to approach childbirth holistically, and more of them provide emotional as well as physical care. This can involve staying by a laboring mother’s side for 12 or more hours and making house calls.

Nevertheless, misconceptions remain. “There will always be people who have no idea what we do — they think we’re witches who perform séances and burn candles,” said Barbara Sellars, who runs CBS Midwifery, a small practice in Manhattan’s financial district. “Sure, some women want a hippie-dippy spiritual birth and I can’t guarantee that. I can guarantee the quality of care.”

Ms. Sellars is considered one of the more respected midwives in New York, and her patients have included opera singers, actresses, bankers and models like Ms. Turlington. (Disclosure: of the more than 1,850 babies that Ms. Sellars has delivered, my daughter was No. 1,727 and my son was No. 1,798.)

It was that high degree of care that led Kate Young, a stylist in New York, to seek out CBS Midwifery when she became pregnant with her son, Stellan, in 2008.

“My friends who had the best birth experiences all went to midwives,” said Ms. Young, whose clients have included Natalie Portman and Rachel Weisz. “When you go to a doctor, you’re left alone a lot. You don’t have someone sitting there, looking you in the eye, getting you through it. When I thought about what I wanted for my child and how I wanted to have my child, every sign pointed to going to a midwife.”

The rising popularity of midwifery among cosmopolitan women also coincides with larger cultural shifts toward all things natural, whether it’s organic foods, raw diets or homeopathic remedies.

“Pregnancy is not a disease, it’s a condition,” said Dr. Moritz, whose own children were delivered by midwives. “We need fewer OB’s and more midwives.”

For other women, midwives offer a sense of control. “This is a time when women are asking more questions, getting healthy, wanting to be more empowered,” said Ms. Kurkova, the 28-year-old model, who gave birth to her son, Tobin, in 2009. “I didn’t want a hospital to take away my power. I didn’t want to risk someone cutting me open and taking the baby out that way.”

While midwife deliveries typically take place in the hospital, Ms. Kurkova is among those who have given birth at home.

“A home birth is more relaxed,” said Miriam Schwarzschild, a home midwife for 25 years who lives in Brooklyn. “I wash my hands, listen to the baby’s heartbeat, take the mother’s vital signs and that’s it. There are no routines. You step outside the bureaucracy at home.”

A big selling point for midwives — both at home and in the hospital — is that, barring medical complications, the baby is not separated from the mother after the birth.

Another at-home advocate is Ms. Bündchen, who gave birth in 2010 to her son, Benjamin, in her Boston penthouse.

“We say Gisele delivered her own baby but I was in attendance,” said Deborah Allen, a midwife in Cambridge, Mass., who, along with MAYRA CALVETTE, a Brazilian midwife, was present at the birth. “Obviously, privacy is of the utmost importance. You are completely exposed. You need to be in a place where you feel comfortable to do that. Gisele was extremely prepared.”

But not everyone is ready to go that route.

When Esther Haynes, deputy editor at Lucky Magazine, decided to go to a midwife, she quickly rejected an at-home birth. “This is New York, and if there was an emergency, I didn’t want my story being, ‘I called 911 and the ambulance took 45 minutes because of traffic!’ ” Ms. Haynes said.”

“Also my apartment is kind of cluttered,” she added. “I hated the thought of going into labor thinking, I wish I’d thrown out more magazines.”

Thanks DANIELLE PERGAMENT and NY Times for the wonderful Article!