Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Woolly warmth for babies

Ame meets the sheep not in the meadow
As the days and nights in Melbourne become cooler I am enjoying the warmth of wool.  Our world has been overtaken by fake fibres - the polyesters that never show a wrinkle and the lycras that stretch and the polar fleeces that are light and keep the cold out.  But I am convinced that nothing beats wool.

Recently a young mother, Brenna, has pointed me to her business, selling beautiful baby clothes at woollykins which are quite inspiring. 

If you share this love affair with wool and other natural fibers, I suggest you visit Brenna's blog, Cobbled together.

One of the essentials in a baby's 'layette' (I don't think anyone uses that word now-a-days) is a pure wool blanket.  The warmth from pure wool is good warmth, moisture is held without becoming hot or stifling.

Knitting and crochet are crafts that value wool.  Knitting and crochet are also activities that midwives have, over many generations, taken with us into the birthing space.  We need to be present, but we need to quietly and unobtrusively stay out of the labouring woman's way.  Lighting is dim - often a couple of candles, burning embers in the fire place, or a little daylight through the closed drapes.  Simple patterns are good - ones that can be interrupted at any stage.  We need to do nothing that will distract the labouring woman.  The repetitive nature of these wool crafts has the effect of keeping adrenaline and other stress hormones at minimal levels.  Women have often said to me that as their labours demanded more from them they felt reassured that I was quietly getting on with my crochet.

Years ago I went to Emma's home.  She wasn't labouring well - it was that frustrating preparatory stage.  I didn't want to go straight home, and it was a week-day, so I went to the local craft shop and bought a couple of balls of wool and a couple of crochet hooks.  I spent that afternoon teaching a couple of Emma's children the basics of crochet.  The next day Emma gave birth.  When I did my final postnatal visit I was delighted to see several of the children working on crochet projects.  They had found websites and learnt much more than I had showed them, and were already experimenting with colour and shape.

By the time Emma's next baby was born, the family had a couple of sheep, spinning wheels, and fleeces being spun, knitted and crocheted.  Emma gave me some of her homespun wool, the natural dark brown, as well as the white, and I have loved working with it, making shawls and squares.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Happy International Day of the Midwife

Today I am enjoying the global webinar
[Recordings are posted at this site when the presentation has been completed]

At present there are 100+ guests logged in, and Prof Lesley Page has given the first lecture.
Lesley said:
The world needs midwives who can practise to the full extent of their power now, more than ever.

[I will add links and my comments as the program proceeds]

One world birth - Go to this site for video interviews with outstanding leaders in the childbirthing movement around the world, and much more!


Lisa Barrett from Adelaide, South Australia addressed the topic Birthing at Home Regardless of Risk: Educated Choice or an Extreme Sport?. This presentation is significant in the homebirth midwifery terrain that we are progressing through today. Lisa's position is, in my opinion, one end of the spectrum that spans the childbirth-midwifery-obstetrics debate. Yet Lisa is paying the price for her idealism, in that she has relinquished her midwifery registration and is now identifying herself as a birth advocate.

Michelle Zimmerman from Sydney spoke about her vision for 'WOMBS' a Women’s Birth Society: the Social Maternity Model That Returns Childbirth to Women and Their Local Communities.  I envy anyone who can work to the principles that maternity 'care' should be provided in group settings, in which women gather around each other for support and nurture, and in which the midwives work alongside other women in a volunteer, non-heirachial, unstructured way.  This sounds like the ideal 'village'.  Unfortunately it's not the world in which I live and work!

Kate Emerson, presented Nuchal Cord: Ritual and Routine, in which she explored her own experience and the literature, looking at the training midwives receive to routinely check for, and then intervene in, the presence of nuchal cord - and how this may contravene the midwifery model of care and commitment to evidence-based practice. Women’s experiences of nuchal cord management are explored in this session, along with a discussion of the more serious outcomes associated with routinely cutting a tight nuchal cord.

The presentation by Dr Rafat Jan, Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Aga Khan University, Pakistan is a very worth-while presentation. Midwives in Pakistan would appreciate support from midwives in other countries. The wonders of technology are there to be used! I will add information here, and look forward to virtual meetings with some of my colleagues in Pakistan!

Anna Maria Speciale, Midwife, Research Associate, Instituto de CooperaciĆ³n Social Integrare, Barcelona, Spain addressed the United Nations' H4+ High Burden Countries Initiative (HBCI) See the report Delivering health, Saving Lives

[I spent about 9 hours in the virtual meeting as it went to air, and I look forward to listening to the other presentations.]