The Miami Midwife

Sheila Simms Watson LM, CPM

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New MANA 2010 Event - Ricki Lake hosting "Roast of the Farm Midwives"

On Friday night of MANA 2010, October 15, The Foundation for the Advancement of Midwifery is hosting a

"Roast of the Farm Midwives" Moderated by Ricki Lake

with the following schedule:

7:00 - Cash bar of midwife concoctions
7:30 - Roast begins promptly
9:00 - Screening of Guerrilla Midwife

Tickets are $20 and will go on sale in September.

Please Be sure to sign up for FAM's e-newsletter at to receive ticket notices. This event will be open to the public.

Early Registration Deadline is Sunday!

As the days get shorter and we rush to finish summer vacations before returning to work and school, don't forget to register for MANA 2010 before Sunday evening when the cheapest registration rates expire! Everything you need to know about the conference is on the Midwives Alliance web site at this link:

There you can download the registration brochure, see a day-by-day schedule of speakers and sessions and even link to the hotel to reserve your room. If you prefer to call in your room reservation, please remember to tell them you are reserving for the Midwives Alliance. We have reserved rooms specifically for our attendees, and we have a great rate!

Conference Speakers include:

Ina May Gaskin
Robin Lim
Geradine Simkins
Bridget Lynch
Barbara Katz Rothman
Carol Leonard
Makeda Kamara
Holly Kennedy
Harriette Hartigan
Help Bring Teachers for Traditional Mexican Skills Workshops

This year the conference planning committee is bringing five midwives from Mexico to teach workshops at the MANA 2010 conference. These midwives, including traditional elder midwives and young leaders who will guide midwifery in Mexico into the next decade, are coming on scholarships provided by the conference. We are very pleased at the quality of the workshops they will be giving as they reflect the current state of Mexican midwifery, with its ancient knowledge that is so important to pass on, as well as an understanding of the current social and political forces that make Mexico one of three countries with the highest cesarean rates in the world.

In order to bring the Midwives to Nashville, MANA has provided conference registration, and we are seeking funds to cover travel, lodging, food and a visit to the Farm. Any amount of donation will be greatly appreciated! We are also seeking translators who are willing to spend one day of the conference translating for Angelina Martinez, a wise and well known midwife from Cuernavaca.

We are looking for eager and savvy Fundraisers who would be willing to donate a day of time to organize a dinner, throw down, bake sale, party, facebook drive, whatever you think would work in your community. We need to raise $6000 and have already raised $500, and I'm sure with your help we can raise the additional $5500.

You can donate on the conference registration website when you register or even if you will not be able to attend the conference Or, if you'd rather mail in a donation, send your check made out to MANA and with a notation that it be used for the Partera Fund to:

Audra Phillips
5332 Sharon Ave
Columbus, OH 43214

Thank you for your help in supporting our sisters from the South.

Conference Scholarship Opportunity!

Because of the overwhelming number of inquiries we have received this year, FAM has agreed to fund three registration scholarships for midwives to come to the conference who otherwise may not be able to attend. And, MANA is also offering three partial scholarships with a registration fee of $275 each.

Please visit to apply for a scholarship. Application deadline is September 1.

To apply, please be prepared to write a brief (200 word) essay about why you wish to come to the MANA conference and how you plan to use the conference information in your work.

For more information about the conference, visit We look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Journey into Midwifery - Sheila Simms Watson, LM, CPM

Sharing with you my personal journey into the art and tradition of Midwifery.

Hello, I am Sheila Simms Watson, the Miami Midwife. Traditional midwifery is my life's mission and passion. I honor childbirth as a rite of passage, a celebration of life! A friend planted the seed of midwifery... which was the seed of change in my life, in 1980. I was pregnant with my first child and my friend said, "Why don't you choose a midwife?" Midwife? I knew nothing about whom or what that was. So, my journey began! I got a book from the library and contacted the midwifery service at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City and on March 29, 1981, I had my first child with help of Midwives.

In 1983, the journey continued with a midwife attending the birth of my second child at home. She carefully and lovingly supported me on this journey of birth and midwifery. I became a childbirth educator, a birth assistant and eventually joined a midwifery study group. Midwives and Midwifery care made so much sense to me. It is such an ancient tradition. Women have been helping, supporting, teaching women since the beginning of time. I truly see pregnancy and birth as a fundamentally healthy process that is a normal, natural part of a woman's life. Midwifery became my mission and my passion in life.

In 1990, my journey led me to eventually move from the city to rural Virginia to apprentice with a midwife. The apprenticeship provided me with what I needed and wanted at that time, Traditional Midwifery training. My goal was to get my training and return to my community in New Jersey. However, I did not return to New Jersey. The opportunity presented itself for me to stay and start a midwifery practice in Virginia. I practiced as a Traditional Midwife in an independent homebirth practice in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia from 1991 to 1996.

In 1996, our family relocated to Northern California (for my husband to attend school). During that time I completed the process and attained my Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) credentials and continued to do homebirths. In 1999, I relocated to the "midwife friendly" state of Florida and in 2001 completed the Midwifery program at Miami Dade College and received an Associate of Science degree in Midwifery and a license to practice midwifery.

In June 2001, I established Spirit of Life Traditional Midwifery, an independent homebirth practice. I am so honored to be a part of the wonderful tradition of midwifery supporting, caring for and being "with woman". Pregnancy and giving birth are some of the most magical and powerful times in a woman's life. It is a time of great transformation and change. I know that midwives make a difference. As a midwife, it is my mission and my desire to confidently continue to carry on this ancient time honored tradition far into the future.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shakti Rising and a panel discussion on racial disparities in infant mortality

On September 5th, 2010 at 7:00 pm, Bellymama Midwifery & Venus Rising, in collaboration with The Healthy Start Coalition, and the Power U Center for Social Change, will present Shakti Rising at the Little Haiti Community Center in Miami, Fl. I will be part of a panel discussion on racial disparity in infant mortality rates and how we as a community can reduce this following the performances. Add this date to your calendar. Ticket prices are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, kids under 12 free. More details below...

Shakti Rising features two pregnant dancers as it tells the story of pregnancy and childbirth through multi-ethnic dance forms, percussion, narration and ritual, with a focus on the emotional and spiritual aspects. Despite the universal nature of this experience, outcomes vary greatly by race, with black infants dying 3:1 to white.

In today’s fast-paced, quick fix society, pregnancy has become an annoyance, an illness to be treated, or a pathology fraught with danger at each new turn. Shakti Rising invites you on a different journey of pregnancy ~ one that will open your eyes through the power of movement.

Join us on this day as we remind ourselves, as well as our community, that pregnancy and birth are rites of passage, sacred miracles which involve great challenge and spiritual transformation, connecting us to a distant, primal part of ourselves and a sisterhood that is as old as time.

Following the performance, there will be a panel discussion to enlighten audiences on the racial disparities in infant mortality and how we, as a community, can help to close this gap.

Ticket prices are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, kids under 12 free. Advance tickets are available online at – "send money" to Bring receipt to show.

For more information and tickets, please call 305-308-5900 or 305-308-5900 or email at Following the performance, there will be a panel discussion to enlighten audiences on the racial disparities in infant mortality and how we, as a community, can help to close this gap.

Panel Participants:
  •     Tamara Taitt: representing Healthy Start--discusses the organization, it's goals, services, history and role in decreasing mortality rates for black infants
  •     Sheila Simms-Watson: representing midwives--discusses the profession, philosophy, herstory, with focus on the legacy of black midwives, and how midwifery care improves outcomes,
  •     Margaret Hepson: representing BIHPI, discusses the initiative, what has been discovered in terms of what's causing more black infants to die, goals of the initiative, and what's being implemented now.
  •     Anjali Sardeshmukh: representing the Power U Center--discusses the organization, services offered, and how it is helping to improve outcomes in the black community.
  •     Dr. Spence/Dr. Muir/other OB: representing obstetricians or ACOG: discusses organization/profession, discussing issues in pregnancy/birth outcomes relating specifically to black community, ideas for improving outcomes.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

MOMS for the 21st Century Bill Filed in House of Representatives!

Childbirth Connection is pleased to inform eNews subscribers that Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard of California has filed the Maximizing Optimal Maternity Services for the 21st Century bill (HR 5807). Also known as “MOMS for the 21st Century,” the bill was filed with 25 co-sponsors.

This sweeping legislation aims to “promote optimal maternity outcomes by making evidence-based maternity care a national priority.” Key provisions include:

• establishing a focal area on optimal maternity care in the Office
on Women’s Health, Department of Health and Human Services
• establishing a federal Interagency Coordinating Committee on the
Promotion of Optimal Maternity Outcomes
• developing and carrying out a national consumer education
campaign about optimal maternity care
• developing, making publicly available, and keeping up to date a
bibliographic database of systematic reviews for care of
childbearing women and newborns
• identifying maternity care health professional shortage areas
• establishing Centers for Excellence on Optimal Maternity Outcomes
• directing the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to test
innovative maternity care models
• developing common core curricula for maternity care providers
• establishing payment for certified nurse-midwife teachers of
students in health professions education programs
• establishing a loan repayment program for maternity care
• providing grants to increase the diversity of the maternity care workforce.

Moms for the 21st Century includes key provisions recommended in two Childbirth Connection reports: Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve (2008) and the “Blueprint for Action: Steps toward a High-Quality, High-Value Maternity Care System” (2010). Childbirth Connection issued Evidence-Based Maternity Care together with the Reforming States Group and the Milbank Memorial Fund. The Blueprint was developed through the Transforming Maternity Care project, a multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder collaboration that engaged leaders from across the health care system over two and one-half years in identifying priority actions for driving maternity care quality improvement. Childbirth Connection was honored to work closely with Ms. Roybal-Allard’s office on this important legislation.

ENews readers are encouraged to:
• read the MOMS for the 21st Century bill
• read Rep. Roybal-Allard’s press release (PDF)
• watch Rep.Roybal-Allard’s floor speech to introduce the bill, and
• call Rep. Roybal-Allard’s office to thank her for exceptional
commitment to childbearing women and newborns: 202 225-1766.

ACOG Issues New VBAC Guidelines
A recent National Institutes of Health panel asked the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) to issue new guidelines that might increase access to vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), in consideration of an updated VBAC evidence report. The professional society has just released its updated VBAC guideline, which is published in the July issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The new guideline persists in recommending that women who desire VBAC should give birth in facilities that provide immediate access to emergency cesarean, even though this is based on the lowest, Level C evidence (primarily consensus and expert opinion). Thus, this version is unlikely to increase access to VBAC in the many hospitals without 24/7 on-site surgical teams. On the other hand, the guidelines newly identify many clinical situations that are candidates for VBAC, including many women with: two prior cesareans, a suspected large fetus, and fetal gestation beyond 40 weeks. These changes could lead to increased use of VBAC in facilities with continuously present surgical teams. Childbirth Connection offers eNews readers tables comparing the new and previous ACOG VBAC guidelines (PDF).

Best wishes,

Maureen Corry
Executive Director
Childbirth Connection

Transforming Maternity Care
Blueprint for Action
Evidenced-Based Maternity Care
VBAC or Repeat C-Section
Resources for VBAC or Repeat C-

Our Bodies Our Blog
Pushed Birth
RH Reality Check
Science and Sensibility

Please donate to Childbirth Connection and help us keep the momentum going!

Childbirth Connection
281 Park Avenue South, 5 Fl
New York, New York 10010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Conflict escalates over midwives' scope of practice in Oregon

Published: Sunday, July 25, 2010, 3:00 PM     Updated: Monday, July 26, 2010, 2:49 PM
Joe Rojas-Burke, The Oregonian Joe Rojas-Burke, The Oregonian 
IMG_14.jpgSupporters of home-birth midwives rally in front of Andaluz Waterbirth Center in Portland on Friday.
During her first pregnancy, Heather Hermans looked forward to giving birth at home under the care of a midwife.

But when the big day arrived, in the midst of labor, Hermans began experiencing breathing difficulties. Her baby was breech -- positioned to emerge feet first -- increasing the risk. The midwife arranged for ambulance transport to Oregon Health & Science University, where an ob/gyn surgeon delivered a healthy baby boy by Cesarean section.

And that would have been that, except the surgeon and a nurse at OHSU filed a complaint about the midwife, Jesica Dolin, alleging she violated professional standards by attempting a breech delivery.

It was the beginning of an escalating conflict over the scope of practice of midwives in Oregon. Midwives assert they are qualified to care for women giving birth to twins and breech babies, or attempting vaginal birth after c-section. Doctors filing complaints with the Oregon Health Licensing Agency insist that such births are too risky to allow out of the hospital

In April and May of 2010, the Oregon Health Licensing Agency began investigating such complaints against five midwives. Like Dolin, all work for Andaluz Waterbirth Center in Portland, which is known for taking on breech and twin pregnancies, and women with a previous Cesarean.

Midwives say the complaints are baseless and meant to thwart competition from midwives and out-of-hospital birth centers.

"This is all harassment," said Roy Haber, the attorney retained by Andaluz, which on Friday announced a federal civil rights lawsuit against OHSU and the Oregon Health Licensing Agency. "They did not have cause to believe that any of these midwives had violated any standards," Haber said. The midwives aren't seeking damages, Haber said. The lawsuit will ask for an injunction ordering the state and OHSU to "cease intimidation and threats against midwives."

The licensing agency recently withdrew the investigations of five midwives, after Haber refused to hand over medical records. The licensing agency also withdrew the case against Dolin, who said the withdrawals show the complaints were without merit.

Officials with the state agency declined to comment on the allegations in the pending lawsuit or the investigations of Andaluz midwives. OHSU also declined to answer questions, but issued a written statement saying "OHSU fully respects and supports a family's right to choose the pregnancy and birthing options that best meet their needs and ensure the health and safety of the mother and child," and that its hospital-based certified nurse-midwives "are fully supported by, and work closely with, OHSU obstetrician-gynecologists."

Oregon law gives licensed midwives a relatively broad scope of practice. They are authorized to perform obstetric ultrasound, provide drugs, give oxygen and IV therapy, and administer local anesthetics and stitch wounds. They can give antibiotic eye drops to newborns, order lab work, and perform newborn metabolic screening. Haber said Oregon law unequivocally permits midwives to attend breech and twin births, and vaginal births after Caesarean in a home or birth center.

Safety remains a matter of fierce debate. Standards of practice vary widely from state to state, and studies are contradictory. In a report in February, University of Texas researchers who analyzed U.S. birth records from 2000 to 2004 concluded that the risk of infant death was twice as high in home birth compared with hospital birth.

But in two large Canadian studies last year, in Ontario and British Columbia, infants born at home fared just as well as those born in the hospital. Significantly, home-birth mothers experienced fewer complications. In the Ontario study, the rate of emergency c-sections was 5 percent among women who planned home births compared with 8 percent among those who started in the hospital. In the British Columbia study, women giving birth at home suffered less than half as many serious perineal tears, and about a third less postpartum hemorrhaging.

Hermans, who is pregnant again and planning a home birth with a midwife, said she can't understand why the OHSU surgeon and nurse filed a complaint about her case. She said women are capable of weighing the risks and benefits of home birth versus hospital birth, and that women should have the right to choose.

"The complaint misrepresented me and my birth," she said. "I was furious. They had no business doing that."

– Joe Rojas-Burke
© 2010 All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Women's Center at Jackson South Community Hospital will remain open!

Greetings all

I am overjoyed with the victory we all accomplished....The Women's Center at Jackson South Community Hospital will remain open! The Miami-Dade County Commission is going to reconsider the decision as part of their overall budget discussion in September. Commissioner Seijas stated, "We will find the $2.5 million to balance the budget." The commissioner's understand that the health of the community and the value the OB services at JSCH is more valuable than money. The commissioner's were outraged that the Public Health Trust (which was appointed by the commission) would attempt to close maternity services at JSCH without consulting the community.

Thank you to everyone who wrote a letter and/or signed the petition and those who came out last Thursday. Your voices were heard loud and clear. Please take a moment to write your commissioner a "thank-you" note. We will keep you updated on future updates and any needed action.

Here is a link to an article in the South Florida News.........


The Miami Midwife

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Secret Language of Babies

One of our Facebook friends "Gabriela" shared this segment from an episode of the Oprah show with us. It was absolutely intriguing. The promotion for the show reads as follows...

"For millions of sleep-deprived mothers around the world, this woman's findings could be a miracle! Priscilla Dunstan, a mom from Australia with a special gift, says she's unlocked the secret language of babies. That mysterious second language took on an astounding new meaning when Priscilla became a mother to her baby, Tom. "Because of my gift for sound, I was able to pick out certain patterns in his cries and then remember what those patterns were later on when he cried again," Priscilla says. "I realized that other babies were saying the same words."

Take a look at the video posted on 'In My Mother's House" Blog"'s_House/post/Discover_the_secret_language_of_baby_cries/, we are sure that you that you will have a lot to say about it, so make sure that you come back by the village "Forum Community-Help for New Mothers" and post your comments, observations and thoughts...

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Journey into Traditional Midwifery

A friend planted the seed of midwifery  which was the seed of change in my life, in 1980. I was pregnant with my first child and my friend said, “Why don’t you choose a midwife?” Midwife? I knew nothing about whom or what that was. So, my journey began! I got a book from the library and contacted the midwifery service at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City and on March 29, 1981 I had my first child with help of Midwives.

In 1983 the journey continued with a midwife attending the birth of my second child at home. She carefully and lovingly supported me on this journey of birth and midwifery. I became a childbirth educator, a birth assistant and eventually joined a midwifery study group. Midwives and Midwifery care made so much sense to me. It is such an ancient tradition. Read more....

Photo by Ely Bistrong Photography

Sheila Simms Watson LM, CPM
Spirit of Life Traditional Midwifery

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Birth Rights - What You Should Know About Natural Birth

I am speaking 3/31/10 in Miami

Birth Rights - What You Should Know About Natural Birth
Wednesday, March 31, 2010 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM Graham Center (GC)

243 Modesto Maidique Campus
Florida International University, Miami, FL

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