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International Midwifery Today Conference, 18-22. October 2001, Paris
(part 2)

This is the official opening of the conference, Friday, the 19th.:

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Michel Odent, as always, had "visions" to tell.
I love the way he speaks... His French was
a challenge for the microphones, though.
It made them crackle and sizzle like crazy... :o)

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Jan Tritten. She's been the "midwife" at the birth of this conference.
She did an excellent job: I cannot imagine how it could have been better organized.
Our homebirth movement thanks her our opportunity to speak about our situation
(opression of homebirth in Hungary) at the opening ceremony. As I was the only one to
represent Hungary at this conference, I had to hold this speech. I was a little scared at first,
but she was so nice and encouraged me in such a "midwifey" way that I soon forgot my fear
and spoke quite an understandable English, I think. :o)
My words did have the effect we wished for. In fact, I managed to gain lots of international support for our cause.

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This is Marsden Wagner MD (originally from Denmark, now he lives in Washington),
a neonatologist and perinatal epidemiologist. He was responsible for maternal and child health in the European Regional Office of the World Health Organization for fourteen years.
He has gathered the most research results that provide scientifical evidence about the safety of homebirth: a much needed tool to convince the medical society of the advantages of
non-intervenive midwfery. He also promised to help us, Hungarian homebirthers, which we are very thankful for.

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This is Naolí Vinaver from Mexico. She has learned a lot from traditional midwives in her area
and showed us a few of their tricks. I loved the way she spoke of the ancient wisdom of her "teachers". The old ways of midwifery still exist in rural Mexico, while they were entirely obliterated in our area, so there was much to learn from her. "Modern" medicine considers
traditional healing arts as "witchcraft", but their methods are mostly very effective, in spite of
their being very simple, using only their hands, simple tools and herbs.

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It's me with Michel Odent, a lady of the French exhibitors and Jan Tritten

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...and here is Ina May Gaskin, author of the book "Spiritual Midwifery"
and president of the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA).
One just has to love her. She reminds me of my Dutch aunt, with her outspoken,
but very gentle ways and refreshing humor. Her book was among the first I've read on midwifery and it brought me a big step closer to what I consider as my true calling now.
I would never have thought that I'd ever have the chance to meet her in person,
but actually, she was the one who came to me to offer her help to our homebirth movement.
We even shared lunch on my last day and talked at length. I always tended to think that one who has Ina May's wisdom and fame, must be somehow... unapproachable. Not Ina May! She was always very friendly and even as she was teaching us something, she always treated us as equals. She even said she would write a foreword to my book (!). We parted with a big hug. She has always been my favourite, but after this conference... She's the BEST!!!

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This is a so-called "Tricks of the Trade" class, a very "midwifey" way of teaching each other.
Someone is showing a knee massage technique (on the left) and Ina May is teaching the Gaskin maneuver for handling shoulder dystocia (on the right).

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Here is Marina Alzugaray, the "water midwife". Maybe she was the "deepest impact" on me during the whole conference. I always thought I was interested in waterbirth, babyswimming and the like (I even wrote my dissertation at the Arts faculty of University about the Mermaid motive in the German literature - if you understand German, you can read it here), but never brought them together into one picture like she did. She showed me it was possible - what an enlightenment for me! We made arrangements for a future class that I'd really like to take from her - hm, maybe it means I'm going to get to see the United States next year? :o)

Ina May Gaskin, my daughter Csenge and I
- a picture I'm proud of!

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Tired, but oh so inspired. This is how my evenings were in Paris,
in the company of my little daughther Csenge (4 months old), whose presence I felt very privileged for. It's somehow an especially intensive feeling to learn about midwifery while you have a baby yourself. Thank you, little Jinglebell (this is what her name means in Hungarian) for being my muse in these days! And thanks to Aunt Magdi, too, who helped with babysitting.
We had such a good time!

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