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"Sisters on a journey": Midwives' Alliance meets in El Paso.

"Sisters on a Journey" was the theme of the ninth annual convention of the Midwives' Alliance of North America (MANA) which met in El Paso, TX October 10-13, 1991. With all of the recent interest in direct-entry midwifery sparked by the Carnegie Foundation talks, this was MANA's most successful conference to date (attendance estimated at around 400).

Hosted by the El Paso midwives, this conference was unique in including Latin American Midwives through simultaneous translation as well as workshops offered in Spanish. Participants came from all over the globe, including Chile, Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico, Canada, Holland, Germany, England, Australia and the US.

Midwifery at a Crossroads: Unity

in Diversity

MANA is dedicated to being an organization which can represent all midwives regardless of their method of training or mode of practice (direct-entry midwives, nurse-midwives, traditional birth attendants, shamanic midwives, Christian midwives, etc.). Discussion at Open Forum and the business meeting centered around avoiding definitions and criteria which would exclude any one group of midwives.

As the discussion continued, a suggestion evolved to delete the word "professional" from MANA's "Scope of Practice" and "Goals" statements (goal #2 now reads "To form an identifiable and cohesive organization representing the professional midwife on a regional, national and international basis.") Since MANA is an organization for all midwives, many members felt that it might then be possible to support a group of midwives within the organization who wanted to be "professional midwives" according to the definition formulated by the Interorganizational Work Group which sprang from the Carnegie Foundation meetings (see the last issue of Special Delivery for a copy).

Votes on these issues were unclear, due to lack of time, and it was left that members would be contacted by mail to clarify the issues and what a yes or no vote would represent.

Speakers and Workshops

The Conference began Wednesday evening with a presentation by Carol Leonard and Karen Pardini on their recent birthing project in Moscow (featured on 20/20 and covered in the summer issue of Special Delivery).

Several preconvention workshops were offered on Thursday, as well as tours of Juarez hospitals and the El Paso Birth Centers.

Friday's keynote speaker was Robbie Davis-Floyd, who spoke on "Midwives in the Age of Technocracy--Guardians of Wholism in Birth." (See article on page 10). Saturday's keynote speaker was David Chamberlin, author of Babies Remember Birth, whose theme was "A Psychologist Looks at Birth." Sunday included a panel on birth centers, concurrent sessions and a talk by midwife Candace Whitridge on "Birth and the Wild Woman: An Ecological Perspective." The closing circle involved singing "Sisters on a Journey" in English and Spanish while greeting one another in two circles, then lighting candles and taking all we had gained out into the world.

In addition to great speakers and workshops, the conference was just plain fun, with a wine and cheese reception and wonderful music and dancing provided by Rosa Guererro's International Folklorico. Saturday night's "Gala Mexican Buffet" was followed by dancing with Cadillac Bob and Rhinestones. The three women singers said they had never seen so many Birkenstocks in one place and kicked off their high heels and had a great time, too.

Sage Femme Award

This year's award to a wise woman who has devoted much of her life to midwifery went to Emma Lopez from Eagle Pass, Texas. She is 72 years old and has been a midwife for 50 years, having delivered approximately 3000 babies. She was unfortunately unable to attend the conference to receive her award in person due to health factors.

Emma began her training as a midwife in 1941. She was a nurse working in a local hospital when the Red Cross trained her to be a midwife due to the crisis in rural health care. She received further training with a local obstetrician who attended home births and also enrolled in correspondence courses to augment her training. She currently has a small homebirth practice in Eagle's Pass.

Shari Daniels Honored

Special recognition was given to Shari Daniels, who founded the first midwifery training center in El Paso, as well as the National Midwives Association, which held the first national gathering of midwives (in El Paso in 1977). More than 8000 births took place in the centers Shari ran, and hundreds of midwives trained with her. The tradition she started of "hands-on training" continues in El Paso with birth centers such as Maternidad La Luz and Casa de Nacimiento.

Shari has not been practicing midwifery recently and a year ago celebrated her marriage to a Jewish cantor. They are currently living in Florida, but her husband will be changing congregations, and they will probably be relocating to the southwest. Shari talks about midwifing again then and training midwives, but on a smaller scale than in El Paso!
COPYRIGHT 1991 Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Midwives' Alliance of North America
Author:Baldwin, Rahima
Publication:Special Delivery
Date:Dec 22, 1991
Words:802
Previous Article:Rocinante Healing Center.
Next Article:Midwives' statement of ethics.
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