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- The Partero’s Story -

Last Updated: 7/23/2013

Gail Hart has been one of my mentor/teachers since beginning my midwifery journey.  That is one of the benefits of AAMI (Ancient Art Midwifery).  Some of the greatest midwives share their knowledge base and skills with AAMI students.  As Carla Hartley likes to say, she has some great friends.  Gail's website is found here.   Gail is the author of the newly revised and expanded Research Updates for Midwives.  Research Updates is a review of current research on pregnancy and birth from a midwifery perspective. It "studies the studies", and puts research data into everyday language, analyzing common practices for their effectiveness and safety. This book puts data, references, study results, and reviews directly into your hands.  Topics include: Preventing preterm birth, Pre-labor Rupture of Membranes, and Pre-eclampsia; Nutrition and supplements; The role of healthy vaginal flora; A review of new recommendations and alternatives to reduce Group B Strep; Prolonged pregnancy; Prolonged labor; Understanding gestational diabetes; Ground-breaking research on the hazards of inappropriate use of oxygen in labor and birth; Vaginal Birth After Cesarean; The First Moments of Life--   Caring for the baby at birth (cord clamping, suctioning, meconium, warming etc); Protocols and  guidelines update.

Gail is a frequent speaker/teacher at midwifery conferences around the country.  She spoke at the Trust Birth conferences in 2008, 2010, and 2012.  You may purchase the sessions in MP3 format.  This is the workshop in 2010 that the following story came from:  The First Sixty Minutes of Life.   

The point of this story is that sometimes babies are born in shock and just need a few seconds to minutes to recover.

The story was told to Gail by a Mexican partero or male midwife.  It is common in Mexico to have male midwives.  This is a person she trusts and she believes the story to be true.  If she believes it, I believe it too.

"The partero was on his way to the birth. He was on the cell phone with the couple as the baby was being born. It came out all in a big heap.  The family was crying and told him it was dead and deformed. He didn't know what he would find.......but kept driving as fast as he could to get there.  He calculated he walked in the door about 20 minutes after the birth.   Everyone was just hysterical and weeping.  He says he gave everyone a hug and asked to tend to the placenta and see the baby.

They had left the baby-blob-thing between mom's legs and thrown a blanket over the mom. He said he lifted up the blanket expecting to see something awful - and it did look very strange.  He turned it over and saw he had been looking at the maternal side of the placenta. The bag was completely intact -- and everything had come out at once (Gail comments: we see this often with midterm miscarriages - I have personally seen it twice - like a grapefruit sized water balloon with a baby inside but it's all murky and hard to see until you open the bag).

He was sure the baby was dead, of course, and asked if he could open the bag to take a look.  They said yes so he ripped the bag open and there was the baby who then gave a sudden start and a gasp and started to cry!  Baby was fine.. and everyone started crying all over again!" 

Some comments by Gail:  "When discussing the physiology we suspect it could simply be one of those babies who are born with good reserves and recover suddenly.. You hear about them from time to time -- they appear dead and doc or midwife sets them off to the side - and a little bit later they start to cry."  (This is what we saw on the episode of Call the Midwife.)

Gail continues,  "Or -- and I do think this makes sense -- the baby's heart would certainly have continued to beat -- the placenta is OUT IN THE AIR - and would likely still be picking up oxygen,  (just like your blood does when you get cut and the blue blood turns red almost instantly when it contacts air).  It's possible the spongy maternal surface of the placenta was still doing the job--- baby was circulating blood to the maternal surface which was now picking up O2 from the air rather than from the placental lakes in the decidua......OR  it could just be a miracle.  But I think those theories would fit the facts and there ARE reports of this.  Supposedly Buddha was born this way.... so it is certainly something in the folk culture as a possibility.  There are reports in many texts about the phenomenon."

In fact I have seen it happen in an episode of "Call the Midwife" the new drama based on the best-selling memoirs of the late Jennifer Worth, from the 1950's East End London.  If you ever get a chance to sit under Gail, you should - Thank you so much, Gail Hart, for this incredible story!!  You can find Gail on facebook or somewhere around the world teaching midwifery students.


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