May 2008

It is with great pleasure that we bring you the following press release from the Midwives Alliance of Pennsylvania, whereas in the matter of Diane Goslin, Certified Practicing Midwife (it feels so good to write this) as to the charge of practicing medicine without a license.  We want freedom:


The Midwives Alliance of Pennsylvania has announced today that The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has reversedthe September 2007 decision of the Pennsylvania Board of Medicine to order Lancaster County Certified Professional Midwife Diane Goslin to cease and desist from the practice of midwifery.           Contrary to the Board of Medicine’s prior statements, the Commonwealth Court determined on Friday that, “…practicing midwifery cannot be construed to be the same as practicing medicine 
and surgery.”  The Board had wrongly contended that Goslin was in violation of the 1985 Medical Practice Act by practicing medicine without a license.

Additionally, The Commonwealth pointed out that the 1985 Act, “…authorizes the Board to impose penalties only upon persons who practice as a nurse midwife without a nurse midwife license.”  Goslin as a Certified Professional Midwife is certified by the National Association of Registered Midwives (NARM) and is considered trained and qualified to attend out of hospital birth. 

The Commonwealth Court‘s 5-2 ruling also overturned an $11,000 civil fine that the State Board of Medicine imposed on Midwife Diane Goslin. President Judge Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter and Judge Doris A. Smith-Ribner dissented, but did not file opinions explaining their votes.  The Court further pointed out that the 1985 PA Nurse Midwifery Act, “…authorizes the Board to impose penalties only upon persons who practice as a nurse-midwife without a nurse-midwife license.”  Goslin however practices as a Certified Professional Midwife.

Diane Goslin may now legally attend births in The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Goslin, 50, who lives near Strasburg in the heart of Lancaster County‘s Amish community, said today her interpretation of the ruling is that it allows her to resume deliveries. The state board of medicine couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. 


The board took action against Goslin in early 2007, eventually fining her $11,000. The situation resulted in several occasions where hundreds of Amish men, women and children came to Harrisburg to rally in support of Goslin.  The board can appeal to the state Supreme Court, no decision has been reached at this point whether they will pursue that course of action.

The Midwives Alliance of Pennsylvania (MAP) is a professional trade organization representing midwives statewide. MAP membership includes midwives, students, and a supporting membership of other healthcare professionals and consumers. MAP affirms the unique fabric and diversity of midwifery in Pennsylvania and seeks to promote and preserve the art and craft of midwifery while serving as a self-governing and self-regulating sisterhood for participating midwives. The aim of this group is to successfully advance legislation for the recognition, regulation and licensure of Certified Professional Midwives in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


However, we do not rest as the Pennsylvania case may follow the same route as Connecticut whereby the Witch Hunt is on and midwifery may move towards licensing and regulation.  Licensing is at issue in Kentucky and in Missouri:


As nice as that sounds for the majority of the American public who believes everyone needs a license, in this field the license in question is about regulation as in Nurse Midwifery.   In America licensing means we will have more midwives going through med school and being trained in the medical model.  One argument is that this means they will also be looking at birth as “risky business” and we will simply have wolves in sheep’s clothing attending our births.  Another argument is why not hold our midwives to the same accountability we hold any other service provider, licensing may provide a means to keep that scorecard and may be what brings women’s health rights full circle and whole.   

To get there, licensing midwives, we must first recognize what normal birth is.  Thomas H. Strong, MD has said it, Marsden Wagner, MD has said it, Midwifery Today will keep saying it, Ina May Gaskin shows us and we in the trenches working with the women who are birthing have said it:  birth care in America isn’t broken…it doesn’t work.  We need midwives more than ever.  Will we embrace them and support them in becoming experts in normal birth or will we prefer only shadows of truth, never to be blinded with truth?




Got energy?  Normal birth requires sustenance.  It is among the most physical activity ANY human will ever accomplish but it is unique to the woman’s body.  The work of labor has been compared to marathon running in terms of preparation but then some say that athletic training is for endurance and extreme activity.  That analogy is well written here at True Face of Birth.

If we say ‘labor’ is an ‘extreme’ activity then do we mean birth is to be highly managed and a medical event?  NO!  Birth is a natural, physical event our bodies were designed to do.  Even how much energy we burn…it is possible that the stores we use are very different and that is why we don’t burn calories in such a way that we lose weight just giving birth.  The calories then are very much needed for the survival of both mother and baby. 

The human body has muscles designed for short bursts of activity and some designed for long term activity.  The energy stores in our bodies are the same, some store short term energy needs and some store the long term energy needs.  Running is an activity in which some people are naturally inclined towards sprinting and some are made for distance running whereas in birth all women are designed to labor as their baby needs them to.

A marathon works out just one body that many can adapt to by training.  Males and females can prepare for a marathon.

Only women can give birth because their bodies aren’t just a skeletal plan…they are a whole design.  Take a look at the elevations of the female pelvis and notice the beautiful stretchy band that allows our pelvises to shape around our babies.  If only you could see the hormones (you can smell them though!) that we have that are unique to labor and the wonder that our glands secrete even more of these hormones the higher the intensity of our birth and possibly is why women express that they must have been in denial when they tell the story of their very fast birth.  Each mother-baby pair is unique, each birth is something a little different.  It’s that something that is why the woman’s body is designed the way it is: it can birth through an astounding number of labor and birth scenarios.  Talk to someone who knows normals birth…we’ve seen face presentations, different types of breech presentations, babies that have flipped breech/vertex, babies that remained posterior throughout, babies rotating out of posterior and back (no pun intended).  Women’s bodies have adjusted wholly…physically, mentally and emotionally to birth their babies spontaneously over intact perineums.

When you read of athletes who say their birth was a struggle don’t let it turn you off to believing you can’t birth naturally if you’re not a fitness buff.  Look at the details behind the birth announcement: it still comes down to did you labor of your own design?  We release the energy we need when we need it, naturally.  We know exercise strengthens our bodies and the female body is susceptible to osteoporosis.  It’s quite possible that giving birth with both feet on the ground will also help us in our later years.  Birth is a ‘whole woman’s health’ event.  

We draw from the energy around us and need support that is not afraid of birth.  

Take care of your body in labor and it will take care of you!  So, where’s the REAL food in YOUR birth plan?

Joni Nichols in Mexico writes this of Plenitud, the birth center in Guadalajara, Mexico:


Our moms are required to bring a cooler with food with them.  We’ve had everything from left over stews to freshly made tuna or salmon salad. Often they will just bring the “fixings” ham, cheese, tomatoes, avocadoes, etc  and the doula assembles the sandwiches.   All bring fruits, yoghurts and yummy favorites.  Recently the couple brought a wonderful collection of chocolate; chocolate cookies, Belgian chocolate bars, Nutella etc.  The American couples seem to lean towards peanut butter sandwiches.


In March a mom asked for her first vaginal check mid morning.  She was at 10cm.  Said she was hungry and ambled with her husband to the hospital’s cafeteria to have breakfast.


I still regret not taking the photo of her empty plates stacked in front of her when we walked over to join her at the end of the meal.  For that matter it would have been fun to have photos of the plates full too!


She had eggs, beans, tortillas.


Came back to the room and got in the tub and had a baby!


Three years ago a couple requested tortas…nice big thick sandwiches which the mother ate while hanging over the tub edge.  Her birth ended in the operating room…not something any of us were happy about obviously but it did “test” that old saw about not eating before surgery.


She said she was happy she didn’t go that route hungry since she was limited to just liquids for the first 6-8 hours afterwards. 





View the trailer here and the film was expected to be featured Friday, May 16 2008 on 20/20.  We hope the joy of birth will be presented positively by the journalists!  Check the listings on the Birth Events page to find us hosting a screening near you!

Note:  I’ve been told this will be airing Friday, May 30, 2008.  Please check your local listings!

Now I’m hearing that song by Men At Work just after typing this title.  And I’m thinking that actually it’s probably appropriate.  Really, while I hope that birth can be that easy going for everyone I know it isn’t.  Your baby’s birth is … how many cliche’s can I come up with?

And you want himself there somehow present, and in your world ~ the real world ~ it’s him in the back yard grilling a fabulous steak that you’re gonna be happy to dine on afterwards while your midwife and other female companions, maybe even your children are there and also give you the immediate space support you need and desire.  And maybe later he may come inside and be there for that first minute…..

Breathe.  Have a reality check.  You are you and he is he.  In the entire world there is no other relationship exactly like yours.  Find what works for you both and find the support that works for both of you.  Do the sane thing:  think it through with a grain of salt and take a look at the whole spectrum…whatever you’re thinking just make sure you’re thinking about your birth, the one that counts.

And yes, you can eat during labor and we know moms who have asked for scrambled eggs and bacon just hours before their baby reached that patiently awaited 10cm and 0+ station.  Mmmmm good!!