I love this story which I found in a book by Wayne Dyer, one of my favourite teachers. I hope you enjoy it, too. Gloria

Spirit Twins

Imagine this scene if you will.

Two babies are in utero confined to the wall of their mother’s womb, and they are having a conversation. For the sake of clarity we’ll call these twins Ego and Spirit.

Spirit says to Ego, “I know you are going to find this difficult to accept, but I truly believe there is life after birth.”

Ego responds, “Don’t be ridiculous. Look around you. This is all there is. Why must you always be thinking about something beyond this reality? Accept your lot in life. Make yourself comfortable and forget about all this life-after-birth nonsense.”

Spirit quiets down for a while, but her inner voice won’t allow her to remain silent any longer. “Ego, now don’t get mad, but I have something else to say. I also believe that there is a Mother.”

“A Mother!” Ego guffaws. “How can you be so absurd? You’ve never seen a Mother. Why can’t you accept that this is all there is? The idea of a Mother is crazy. You are here alone with me. This is your reality. Now grab hold of that cord. Go into your corner and stop being so silly. Trust me, there is no Mother.”

Spirit reluctantly stops her conversation with Ego, but her restlessness soon gets the better of her. “Ego,” she implores, “please listen without rejecting
my idea. Somehow I think that those constant pressures we both feel, those movements that make us so uncomfortable at times, that continual repositioning and all of that closing in that seems to be taking place as we keep growing, is getting us ready for a place of glowing light, and we will experience it very soon.”

“Now I know you are absolutely insane,” replies Ego. “All you’ve ever known is darkness. You’ve never seen the light. How can you even contemplate such an idea? Those movements and pressures you feel are your reality. You are a distinct separate being. This is your journey and you’re on your own. Darkness and pressures and a closed-in feeling are what life is all about. You’ll have to fight it as long as you live. Now grab your cord and please stay still.

Spirit relaxes for a while, but finally she can contain herself no longer. “Ego, I have only one more thing to say, and then I’ll never bother you again.”

“Go ahead,” Ego responds impatiently.

“I believe all of these pressures and all of this discomfort is not only going to bring us to a new celestial light, but when we experience it, we are going to meet Mother face-to-face and know an ecstasy that is beyond anything we have ever experienced up until now.”

“You really are crazy, Spirit. Now I’m truly convinced of it.”

-by Henri Nouwen and included by Dr. Wayne Dyer in his book “Your Sacred Self”

Jeannine Parvati Baker June 1, 1949 – December 1, 2005

Today would have been Jeannine’s 61st Birthday but the Breath Giver had other ideas.

Jeannine Parvati Baker

Janet Fraser of the Australian birth site http://www.joyousbirth.info thought we should share memories of Jeannine today and I agree. Here are some of the lovely thoughts that have come in so far.

Laurie Horne

I was one of Jeannine’s student in Santa Cruz in 1978. While attending school at Raven Lang’s in Ben Lomand and studying herb accompanied by mythology with Jeannie. Was always a joy to catch up with Jeannine when in SC visiting or catch her at a workshop in the NW. She never forgot me and once called out my name in a Portland workshop when she caught sight of me in the audience! We sharer stories and friendship over the years. She always had sage advice. a strong heart and steady support. Jeannine was the best
Blessed Be

Gloria Lemay
We had Jeannine come to B.C. in 2003 to lead a weekend workshop. She brought her daughter Haley (named after Haley’s comet) with her. We were only allowed to have 20 women in the workshop because it was on pristine land that the owners keep ecologically balanced. What a setting it was to hear this amazing midwife speak in. Here’s a link to the lovely Xenia Centre space.
They have a labyrinth on the site and it was so profound to walk it with Jeannine.

Maha Al Musa
In 1997 she came to the Byron Bay Pregnancy Support Group here in Australia – the most eye opening talk and energy in the room was on fire..I learned so much from sitting with this beautiful woman for 2 hours with my baby boy….never forgotten..inspired me to be doing what I am doing in birth..and in my own births…
love and peace to Jeannine

Babz Covington
when i first came to stay in Utah there was a lovely young woman named Audrey staying to care for Jeannine. Jeannine called us both in to her room and asked us how long each of us had to stay . Audrey said “I have to leave in about two weeks” and then she looked at me, her eyes were so big in her very slim face and I said,” i don’t have to go anywhere, I am here until the end.” It was the first time “the end” had been said out loud, I believe. She picked ours hands up and lowered her head and put them against her forehead and said, “the circle is closed then.”

Sunny Daily
What an incredible woman. My first teacher. Her insights and word medicine are so missed.

Zuki Abbott
The few times I was in a shambles about the midwifery community and reached out to someone, she was one of the few who actually would validate and talk to me about how I felt!

Most midwives could not understand my feelings, they only said “just get licensed and all will be fine!

“Ten or more years ago we spoke a few times on the phone and she helped me feel OK about what ‘kind’ of midwife I was. Thank you Jeannine!!

Julei Busch
Inspiring anchor of calm and voice of wisdom thru many changes in face of birthwork. Thank you.

Laurie Horne
Back in the day, at 20 years old I used to clean Jeannine’s house to pay my way for classes. We would talk while I was cleaning or she would bring in some tea for a chat. Every moment I spent with her was profound. There was no end to her courage and willingness to address tough topics which were always woven with threads of the divine. She is most definitely one of the wise women in my life. Praises Be.

Eydis Hentze Petursdottir
Lovely, what a fine way to honour such a great woman

Eugenie van Ruitenbeek
I love this woman dearly. She was so wise and filled with love. Learned a lot from her.

Btw, does her website still exist? Can’t find it..

Adrienne Leeds
Jeannine taught me to serve invisibly, without ego.

Charlene Storch DiCesare
What a beautiful woman! Without knowing her she inspired me!

Jennifer Tow

One very hot summer day, 13 years ago, Jeannine, my daughter, Morgana, her daughter Hayley and I rowed a canoe into the middle of a lake where we talked about the spirituality of birth and where I came to know who I was in my own patterned ideas about birth. On that day, I gave up the idea of myself as a warrior woman giving birth and allowed my next baby to come easily and effortlessly through me–coming to a whole new understanding of birth that has served to heal my mother heart at a very deep level.

Kd Dawn
I called a number to get information on Jeannine’s midwifery program. A woman answered the phone and, to my surprise, it was Jeannine. It was amazing to me that you could pick up a phone and reach her in person. We talked for hours about everything. It was like I had just called a long lost friend to catch up. She was making cookies with her daughter and i felt like I was welcomed into the event as we discussed birth, life, and love. I regret having never made it to an event with her. My son was a newborn when she came to BC to host a yoga workshop. But I will always feel like we shared a special connection via technology and it impacted my life.

Adrienne Leeds
Jeannine’s website is http://birthkeeper.org

Sherry Rothwell
Jeannine was penetrating, she shattered illusions with her questions.

Mary Siever
She gave so much to the birthing community, to women everywhere. Our lives are richer because of her, and I am so grateful for her life.

Kirsten Goa

I am so grateful to her, especially for telling her twin birth story… The part about leaving the hospital was so influential for me. Since then, I have told so many women that they can always leave. Usually they don’t, but when they know they have a choice they are far more vocal and confident in standing up for themselves. And sometimes they leave! 🙂 In the meantime it was one more sign for me that I was meant to stay home in the first place. I found her writing and work right after she died. Her legacy lives on, but she is sorely missed.

Laura Bergstrome
I’m missing her more than anything right now, she helped me heal wounds I never thought I could… beautiful woman

Maria Armstrong-Doula
May her memory be eternal! I came into the birth scene (so to speak) after she passed and while I enjoy and am thankful for her legacy, I would have loved to meet her.

Nicole Mazurek

I studied spiritual midwifery with Jeannine, I loved the inner view I was able to process whilst pregnant, and she helped me do the inner work I needed to birth at home in water with my chosen circle in attendance. When she came to B.C., she was happy to have my toddler join in the workshop and she taught me to stand on my head to deal with my overwhelming tiredness. Mostly though, I was amazed watching the daughter/mama connection as Jeannine and her daughter cojointly taught us yoga and seemed to ‘speak’ without words to one another. She was authentic, she had a gift and she shared it willingly with the world and her actions resonated with me, she is missed greatly by me and my son.


Now the mother of five (three birthed at home), I came across Loi online in a sole parents group, and was thrilled to realize Jeannie was her mother. Hygeia had been a core wisdom book amongst my Australian women peers, and when I became pregnant for the first time I found Jeannie’s beautiful prenatal yoga book and bought it for guidance. I always remember the gentle advice from that book: (in my own words) Be careful water mother, you may have a fire child — it really summed up the sense of mission we are blessed with, to become spiritual doorways through which our children pass, leaving their spiritual finger prints upon us! I love my five special kids and have loved fulfilling myself as a mother in every way. Thanks you Jeanine for your friendship.

Poetic words of courage

Some people have a gift for putting words together in amazing ways–they are called Poets, of course.  I’m going to see the new film about South Africa and was curious to find the title poem for the film.  Upon reading it, I was thinking about all the courageous birthing women I have known and all the midwives who persist against all odds to make things better for families.


Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll.

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

By William Ernest Henley

I think that what William Ernest Henley says so well is that being a self made (wo)man is a matter of declaration and grace.  No matter what happens, we can rise to meet the challenge and get to the other side.  I am the mistress of my fate:  the champion of my soul.

Remembering Jeannine Parvati Baker

Jeannine Parvati Baker
June 1, 1949-December 1, 2005


I posted this last year on the anniversary of Jeannine Parvati Baker’s death but I’d like to share my memories of her again. It’s 4 years since she died on December 1, 2005 and her memories live on around here. There’s the outrageously bright purple silk shirt she gave me, the feel of it reminds me of how slim and light she was. A meal to her was a tablespoonful or so of brown rice and three lentils. Also, there’s the photo she sent me when she knew she didn’t have very long to breathe–it’s a Polaroid picture of her in her younger days nursing another woman’s baby while her 6 month old twins played in the bed beside her waiting for their turn. Her big smile lit up a room. These tangible reminders of her, I treasure along with her books, her website and video/audiotapes.

The first time I heard her do a presentation “live” was at a Waterbirth Conference in Portland, Oregon. Her entourage consisted of her partner, Rico, and her five children. Other midwives see a trip away to a conference as a good respite from their families but Jeannine took the gang with her.

I’ll never forget being in that big room with Jeannine moving about like a ballerina and spinning us all into a trance with her “word magic”. She brought her education, her First People’s folklore, and her Jewish heritage into the mix of linguistics, humor, wisdom and vision. We were completely enthralled. She had no script and no PowerPoint, just words from her heart that flowed forth into that room. It meant everything to her to be asked to speak to American midwives. She was shunned for many years for daring to speak up for the unassisted birth pioneers. She loved being a midwife but didn’t do it with any compromise of her values. She was fond of the idea that midwives should attend only one birth per month. Her idea was that limiting the number of births allows the midwife to integrate the miracle and deeply savor the lessons of each birth. In this rush, rush world, we need to be reminded to stop and smell the tops of the babies’ heads. She also liked to say that she only kept one chart for each birthing woman and that was her astrological chart. She often said that “Every mother is a midwife” and then proceeded to further alienate herself from most other midwives by asking the rhetorical question “Why would I pay someone to be paranoid for me?” I always loved these provocative one-liners from Jeannine. Every profession needs someone to shoot straight from the hip and bring the profession back to a state of humility.

Inventing new language was one of her pet projects. She married the terms Earth Keeper and Birth Worker and gave rise to the birthkeepers. She used the term “intactivist” for those who speak up for baby boys genitals. She became firm friends with Marilyn Milos of Nocirc in the 1970s and the two women led us all into the modern revolution of ending circumcision. They marched together in many protests and found partners across the country to forge a movement of birth workers, parents, gay men, nurses, doctors and other advocates who would join them in getting out the word about this diabolical human rights crime. When she could barely speak in our last phone call, I told her that she could go and know that we would finish her work and that I wouldn’t stop until it was done.

Jeannine Parvati and two youngest children protesting circumcision.

Jeannine Parvati and two youngest children protesting circumcision.

I brought her to Vancouver to teach workshops in 2002 and 2003. In the last workshop, she did a yoga class for the women. The last exercise was a posture like a shoulder stand but with one leg touching the floor over the head while the other foot bicycled upwards and, then, reversing the legs. I don’t know if that describes it adequately but, needless to say, it was a very challenging yoga move. Only one woman, Joanna, was able to do it. It was so beautiful to see Jeannine, 54 years old, doing yoga with a young woman in her 30s and looking absolutely delighted that she had another being with whom to bicycle through space. Little did any of us know that she was ill with Hepatitis C and it would claim her life in two years.

Just before she died, Mothering Magazine named Jeannine Parvati Baker a “Living Treasure”. The midwife who came through in a miraculous way to assist Jeannine into her dying was Babz Covington, a true angel in the body. Jeannine, I miss you in so many places. There will never be another midwife quite like you.

Gay marriage

This is a 3 minute video of an 85 year old man who is a veteran of World War II speaking up for the right of gays and lesbians to be married in the state of Maine. He is a chaplain and has 4 sons, one of whom is a gay man. I was moved to tears by who he is.

Remembering Catherine Young, 21 July 1952 – 11 September 2001

Today is a day to remember those who died on September 11, 2001.  I began to get the bulletins on my computer about the World Trade Towers in New York and ran to the T. V. to see what was going on.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and my first thought went to my own daughter who was sleeping safely in the next room to me.  She had been a theatre student in New York just a year before and I could imagine how worried I would have been if she had been in New York that day.  My thoughts are with all those who had loved ones who died or were injured on that terrible day.

There was a death that day that didn’t hit the headlines.  It was a quiet end to the too short life of a very special woman:  Catherine Young, founder and editor of Compleat Mother Magazine.  Catherine died of cancer at the age of 49.  This is a letter that I sent to her children on the day of her funeral. 

To Amanda, Rebecca and Zachary,

I know how much pain the three of you are in today and I want to tell you what I know about the death of one’s mother, from my own experience.  It just hurts like hell for months and the tears come at very unpredictable times and over things that you wouldn’t guess. The pain, fear and loneliness you feel today will get better in time.  Your Mom is close by right now and, if you listen, pay attention and ask her she will come to you in dreams, strange signs and through others still in the body.  This will not frighten you, it will give you comfort and make you less afraid of dying yourself.  The rawness of the pain will lessen in a few months and then you will think you see her across the street and realize that it’s some other woman about the same age and
same “style” of dress as your Mom and you will wonder if that woman’s family really knows how precious she is.  You’ll wish you could go to the family and tell them “Hold on tight to your Mom, sniff in her essence, saturate yourself with her smell, listen to her recite recipes to you and give you advice—you will hurt like hell when she’s gone and you don’t have it anymore.”  You will find that the three of you become closer and stronger as a unit of siblings and your Mom would want that.

You will be the ones that your friends turn to when their parents die and you will have a deep compassion for those who grieve.  When you have your own children, you will tell them what Catherine’s favourite flower was, your favourite dish she cooked, and the crazy times you had with her.  She would want that.

Your Mom was not meant to be just your Mother.  She became the mother of thousands of new mothers who she encouraged to breastfeed and to nurture their babies.  This probably cost you three a lot in terms of hot meals, stories and attention.  I want you to know that all of those women are available to give back to you now and your Mom would want that.  She gave us so much.  She truly understood the maxim “Mother the mother and she will mother the baby.”  Even though it cost a lot in terms of her own family, her life in service to other families was time well spent.
She was very powerful with her pen and, as we know, it was mightier than a sword.  The power she had was to make others more powerful around her.  She was a great storyteller and fearless in her authenticity.  I think, more than anything else, that was what I was awed by.  In each issue of the magazine, we got a true recounting of the intimate life of Catherine and her gang. Personally, I am so much more secretive and committed to my own “looking good” and Catherine set an example of openness and refreshing humanity.  She never seemed to have it “together”, never pretended to, and produced amazing results anyway.

I began attending births in 1981.  In May of l985, a baby died at a homebirth that my midwifery partner and I attended here in Vancouver. Your mom was approached to help us raise the $50,000 that we would need to defend ourselves against the physicians, state and public opinion. Catherine supported us all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada where we were acquitted in l991.  I will never forget that.  She understood bullying and oppression and had no patience with it.  She spoke up and went to bat for the underdog, the voiceless, and the downtrodden.  I feel like her magazine was started in l985, right at the time I needed her support so badly, because someone up above wanted me to have a guardian angel.  Her wingspan as an angel was coast to coast.

Those of us who love her and got to know her through her writing will miss her funny, caustic “take” on events. In one line of an editorial she would be railing on like a sailor on the dockside and in the next she would be waxing poetic about God.  She loved a good joke, pretty poetry, animals, raspberry leaves, men who danced, brave women, dripping breasts and country life.  Most of all she loved you three beautiful babies of hers madly.  You completed her life and she was so incredibly proud of all of you.  I remember when Amanda produced the video “Birth Joy and Raspberry Leaves” —what a proud producer of the producer she was.

Thank you, Amanda, for all the work you put into that.  Thank you, Rebecca, for taking on the magazine and thank you, Zachary, for being her email wizard.  Thank you a million times for being great kids for her.  You’ll understand someday that giving birth to you was her best accomplishment and what fueled everything else.

My deepest sympathy to your grandparents and your Dad–thank you to them for the gift of Catherine.

She would often talk to me, even before the cancer, about knowing that she was “on the right road home”.  I found that such a beautiful turn of phrase and I know she has reached home.  We are poorer for her death. There will never be another quite like her.  I am so glad I knew her and I miss her terribly.  My heart is with you today and if you need a Mom to talk to, I’ll do my best to stand in for her.  I love you.

Gloria Lemay, Vancouver, BC
Sept 13, 2001

Infact Canada has a history of Catherine’s life and accomplishments on their website.

Were you born in the ’70s?

 70s bridesmaid I received this list some years ago and I don’t know who wrote it.  Every young woman born in the ’70s will relate:


1. You wore that rainbow shirt that was half-sleeves and the rainbow went up one sleeve, across your chest and down the other.
2. You made baby chocolate cakes in your Holly Hobbie Easy Bake Oven.
3. “Oh Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind Hey Mickey!” was your first favorite pop song.
4. You wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder really bad. You wore that Little House on the Prairie-inspired plaid, ruffled shirt with the high neck in at least one school picture.
5. You wanted your first kiss to be at the roller rink.
6. You tried to make sure that no boys would grab the comb out of your back pocket and skate away at the roller rink.
7. Your hairstyle was never described as having “wings”.
8. You thought Shaun Cassidy actually wrote the songs “Da Do Run Run” and   “Hey There Lonely Girl”.
9. Strawberry Shortcake and her friends Blueberry Muffin and Huckleberry Pie.
10. You couldn’t wait to be old enough to wear high-heeled shoes….the one’s called “Yo Yo’s” with the plastic heel with a hole through it!!
11. You carried a Muppets lunch box to school.
12. You and your girlfriends would fight over which of the Dukes of Hazard was your boyfriend.
13. You memorized every song on the “Annie” movie and know at least one person who immediately went out and got the Annie afro.
14. You had Star Wars action figures, too.
15. You thought unicorns were real.
16. It was a big event in your household each year when the “Wizard of Oz” would come on TV. Break out the popcorn and sleeping bags!
17. Light as a feather, stiff as a board.
18. You loved The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe so much you got the whole Chronicles of Narnia series for Christmas but never read the other books.
19. You crawled in a wardrobe somewhere and actually believed for a few seconds that you were on your way to Narnia.
20. You completely wore-out your Grease and Saturday Night Fever soundtrack albums.
21. You tried to do lots of arts and crafts things, like yarn & popsicle sticks or those weird potholders made on a plastic loom.
22. Shrinky-dinks! What was so appealing about these? I loved the Raggedy Anne & Andy shrinky dinks. I still remember how the oven smelled when they were “baking”.
23. You used to tape record songs off the radio by holding your miniature tape recorder up to the speaker.
24. You couldn’t wait to get the free animal poster that came when you ordered books from the Scholastic book orders your teacher would give you.  Remember? The order catalogs looked like miniature newspapers.
25. You learned everything you needed to know about sex and your period from Judy Blume books.

That list of what it was like to be born in the ’70s prompted me to write the following list of what it was like to be a childbearing woman at that time:

I am a big fan of women born in the ’70’s.  The books you loved and the rainbow shirts
produced a group that are the future of midwifery.  My first homebirth was in l976. Thought you might like to know what it was like to be pregnant in the 70’s. Gloria

 You know you were pregnant in the 70’s if:

1.You had to battle to keep caustic silver nitrate drops out of your baby’s eyes to prevent gonorrheal infections that you didn’t have.

 2. Every maternity top had puff sleeves and frills. All the pants were Fortrel.

3. No one would ever wear a bikini if pregnant. Nothing form fitting either.

4. Your favourite books were “Birth Without Violence” by Frederic Leboyer and “Spiritual Midwifery” by Ina Mae.

5. Even though you weren’t a hippy, you had to make friends with some hippies to lead you to a midwife.

6. Your midwife was a follower of Baba Hari Dass or Rajneesh. You never knew her last name and you paid her cash ($75 per birth . . . or $50, if you can’t afford it).

7. The idea of water birth, Dad’s catching or birth on all 4’s had never occurred to anyone yet.

8. there was mandatory separation of Mother and baby in hospital births for 24 hrs after birth for “observation” in the newborn nursery.

9. Episiotomy was standard practice for all hospital births unless you could find a British-trained doctor. Then, you’d get one anyway but at least he’d tell you in the office he wouldn’t do one.

l0. The cesarean epidemic had started.

11. Women were told to toughen their nipples with toothbrushes and rough face cloths to prepare for breastfeeding (no one did it). No one knew about positioning for breastfeeding so we held our babies at the breast like we were feeding them a bottle (face up to the ceiling). Sore, cracked bleeding nipples were part of life.

12. Millions of women had already given one child up for adoption.

13. The birth control pill was tested on us and that could be why a lot of your Moms have breast cancer now.

14. As children, we played on X ray machines in the shoe stores.

15. We loved our babies and created a grassroots movement of birth that the most powerful medico-legal-pharmaceutical groups in the world have not been able to quash.  We are proud of the young women rising up to carry the torch for us.
You are the best of the best.  Gloria Lemay


Originally posted at Compleat Mother website. 


Geradine Simkins, CNM says “not in my name”

TO: Open Letter to the ACNM Board of Directors and Executive Director 


FROM: Geradine Simkins, CNM, MSN, MANA Board President 


RE: ACNM Opposition to Federal Recognition for the CPM 


DATE: July 17, 2009 


I am a CNM and a member of the ACNM and I say very emphatically-not in my name! I do not support your recent decision to publicly and aggressively oppose the efforts of a broad-based coalition of six national midwifery and consumer organizations seeking federal recognition of the Certified Professional midwife. Your position, to me, is indefensible. 


Lack of Evidence 

For an organization of professionals that values evidence, I find it inexcusable that you have chosen an action that the evidence does not support. 


* There is no evidence to support your claim that the majority of CPMs are not properly qualified to practice. 

* There is no evidence to support the position that CPMs in general have poorer outcomes than CNMs or CMs. 

* There is no evidence to support the position that CPMs trained though apprenticeship and evaluated for certification through the Portfolio Evaluation Process (PEP) of NARM have different outcomes than CPMs trained in MEAC-accredited schools. 

* And there is no evidence to support the notion that a midwife with a Master’s Degree has better outcomes than one without that level of higher education. 



The evidence we do have on the CPM credential indicates that the midwives holding this credential are performing well, have good outcomes, and are saving money in maternity care costs. The growing number of women choosing CPMs suggests that women value the care provided by CPMs. If future research should demonstrate the PEP process is unsafe or not cost-effective, then that would be the time to reassess and restructure the process. 


Differing Values 

We, as midwives, have values that underpin our professional practice. We cherish and honor those values. You have stated that your board made its decision because ACNM strongly values formal standardized education, and opposes federal recognition of CPMs who have not gone through an accredited program. I can accept that you strongly value standardized education. However, I strongly value multiple routes of midwifery education for a variety of reasons. 


There is something important, powerful and valuable in a training process in which the student midwife or apprentice is educated in a one-on-one relationship with a preceptor and her clients in the community, as opposed to the tertiary setting where student midwives do not follow women throughout the childbearing year, and may never experience continuity of care or individualized care. In addition, by preserving multiple routes of entry into the profession, we are able to educate more midwives. We need more midwives! If health care reforms were to produce an adoption of the midwifery model of care as the gold standard this year, we could not possible supply “a midwife for every mother.” 


Impact of Taking a Stand 

By publicly and actively opposing federal recognition of CPMs as Medicaid providers, in addition to taking a stand about formal education, you are also taking a stand (willingly or inadvertently) for decreased access to midwifery care, for diminished choice for women to choose their maternity care providers and place of birth, and for restricted access to the profession. Is it worth it to sacrifice several things you value, just so you can take a stand for one thing you value? Is it possible for you as an organization to value something, but also realize that it is not the only valid way? Is it possible for you to respect the diversity of pathways to midwifery that the CPM represents? Standing aside on a potentially divisive issue does not require the ACNM to sacrifice any of its standards. It simply requires the ACNM to respect the standards of another part of the profession of midwifery. 


Disingenuous Claims 

It is disingenuous of ACNM to state in its Special Alert to ACNM Members on July 15, 2009, “ACNM’s decision to oppose this initiative followed unsuccessful attempts by ACNM and MAMA Campaign leaders to reach a compromise that both organizations could support…” There was no formal process or interaction, no negotiations, and no attempt at collaboration between ACNM leaders and MAMA Campaign leaders. There was one phone conversation in which the ACNM representative stated there was only one concession they would accept: federal recognition only for gradates of MEAC-accredited programs; this is not a compromise. The MAMA Campaign, of course, is promoting all CPMs to receive federal recognition as Medicaid providers, not just some CPMs. 


Furthermore, it is disingenuous to suggest the World Health Organization (WHO) document sets a standard that has been embraced around the world. In fact, the WHO developed global standards for midwifery education without the input of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), an international partner of the WHO. The majority of members of the task force that developed the standards were not even midwives. There was not widespread input regarding the document nor targeted input by midwives. In response to this oversight, the ICM passed a resolution at the June 2008 Council meeting in Glasgow Scotland (I was there!) to develop global midwifery standards. A task force has since been convened and all member organizations (which includes MANA and ACNM) will be able to give input to the standards developed by the ICM. Generally, when the ICM develops a document that might supplant an existing WHO document (as was the case in the international definition of a midwife), the ICM document is eventually incorporated by the larger international community. This will be a long process and any new document will not be ratified by ICM until the next Council meeting in 2011. 


Lack of Vision 

What offends me most-as a CNM, an ACNM member, a member of the MANA/ACNM Liaison Committee, and the President of the Midwives Alliance-is the lack of vision this decision represents. 


Why not embrace diversity and support innovation? Why not bring the turf wars to an end? Why not unite under the banner of midwifery and the values that we share in common? Why not set aside our differences and recognize that we are all midwives? Why not recognize that the work we do is more important than the credentials we hold? Why not support one another within the profession, because diversity is our strength not our weakness? 


What We Do Matters 

The healthcare debate has been in progress in Washington DC for over a decade, but never before has the possibility of real change been as promising as it is now. Now is the time when we may have a real opportunity to effect unprecedented changes in maternal and child health care that will have long-lasting affects for mothers, infants, families and communities. Women deserve high quality maternity care, affordable care, and equal access to care. Women deserve options in maternity care providers and in their place of birth. Vulnerable and underserved women deserve to have disparities in health care outcomes eliminated, and they deserve to have barriers removed that limit services, providers and reimbursement for maternity care. 


Expanding the pool of qualified Medicaid providers to include CPMs will help address the plight of so many women around the country who receive poor quality maternity care or do not have access to care at all. We need to lower the cesarean rate and increase VBACs. We need to lower infant and maternal mortality and morbidity rates in the U.S. We need to offer women the opportunity to believe in their bodies again and to give birth powerfully and in their own time. We need to welcome babies gently into the world. We need to give the experiences of pregnancy and birth back to families. We need to support women to breastfeed and help shelter the process of maternal-infant bonding. These are the real issues. These are the things we deeply value. Midwives are the solution that can address each of these vital issues. All midwives and midwifery organizations united, together, working toward these common goals, could produce these kinds of improvements in maternity care. We do not have to think together; but we must pull together! 


In Conclusion 

I repeat to you-not in my name. As an ACNM member, I will not comply with your requested action; I will actively oppose it and encourage others to do join me in doing so. Your position on CPMs does not represent what I value, what I hope for, and what I work untold hours to achieve. I have written this letter at the urging of the fourteen members of the MANA Board of Directors. Seven of the Board members are CPMs, four are CNMs, one is a CPM/CNM, one is a CM, and one is a DEM. They represent a true cross-section of the midwives in practice in this nation. We stand for diversity, tolerance, and unity among midwives and within the profession of midwifery. We advocate and work for a midwife for every mother, in every village, city, tribe, and community in this country and across the globe. 




Geradine Simkins-CNM, MSN, President 


MANA Board of Directors 

Maria Iorillo-CPM, 1st Vice President 

Christy Tashjian-CPM, 2nd Vice President 

Angy Nixon-CNM, MSN, Secretary 

Audra Phillips-CPM, Treasurer 

Pam Dyer Stewart-CPM, Region 1 

Regina Willette-CM, Region 2 

Tamara Taitt-DEM, PhDc Region 3 

Sherry DeVries-CPM, CNM Region 4 

Elizabeth Moore-CPM, Region 5 

Colleen Donovan-Batson-CNM, Region 6 

Dinah Waranch-CNM, Region 9 

“Keepsake” ultrasounds banned by Gov. of Connecticut

Just when I’ve completely despaired of the human race, a little ray of hope shines through.  This morning I received this news post.  I would like to fly to Connecticut right now and hug Gov. M. Jodi Rell for throwing the frivolous ultrasounders out of the (womb) temple.  Hallelujah!   I’ll be sending this item to my own Provincial Health Minister and the College of Physicians and Surgeons and urging them to do the same. 

 If you’re passionate about protecting babies, please do the same in your own province or state.  I loved this line “Rell says she understands that desire, but doesn’t want to risk the health of the mother and child.”  Nice to have this woman as our partner.