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Waterbirth International

Waterbirth International


PO Box 1400
Wilsonville, OR 97070
United States
T: (503) 673-0026
F: (503) 673-0029

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Waterbirth International was founded in 1988 with one purpose in mind:

"To make waterbirth an available option for all women."

To accomplish that incredible vision changes have to be made to the way we treat women in labor and the way we welcome babies into this world. To that end, Waterbirth International has been working non-stop for almost two decades providing education, training, programs, consultations and referrals for parents and practitioners alike. And there have been major accomplishments on all fronts. We are very proud of the fact that we have assisted in the installation of birth pools in over 200 hospitals in the US and several dozen in other countries around the globe, including Mexico, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Taiwan, China, Turkey, Germany, Argentina, Ecuador, Australia, Philippines and India to name just a few.

We have also assisted over 6000 couples with portable pool rentals for water labor and waterbirth. We take care of our clients who come to us for information, reassurance and great portable pools for home, hospital or birth center. Countless more couples have watched our videos and DVDs and shared them with family, friends and providers. All of this has helped change the consciousness of birth and parenting.

Waterbirth International is one of the projects of the broader organization, Global Maternal/Child Health Association, which is our 501(c)3 umbrella organization. Global Maternal works with other NGOs, nonprofits and projects around the world, including the Gentle Birth Education Centre in Lagos, Nigeria, a mountain health clinic in Guatemala and other worthy projects. Global Maternal has donated educational materials and birth supplies to many clinics and orphanages over the past 20 years. Our projects in the former Soviet Republics just after the breakup of the Soviet Union brought over 1 million dollars worth of donated medical supplies and clothing to nine different sites in four countries, including, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. Global Maternal remains committed to approaching a vast array of global problems by focusing on the source experience of birth from the mother's perspective and especially from the view of the baby entering the world. If we want to create a peaceful society it is best to begin with birth.

New for 2007, we have taken on BOLD (Birth on Labor Day) as a project. BOLD's mission is to make maternity care mother-baby-friendly through global education, truth and action. Through performances of the play, Birth, by Playwright, Karen Brody and BOLD Talkbacks that follow the play, we are asking communities to start taking a serious look at how to improve the birthing climate for pregnant mothers. What do mothers want? What do they deserve? What do babies need? These are some of the tough questions BOLD is asking. These are the questions that will be addressed at the Gentle Birth World Congress.

Waterbirth: Easier for Moms...Better for Babies!™

Profile and Credentials        

Barbara Harper

"My introduction to waterbirth was an article in the National Enquirer of all places! Can you imagine basing two and a half decades of work for mothers and babies on that sensational news rag?? Well, the story of Russian women birthing in clear glass tanks changed my thinking about how to use water for labor and birth. My son, Sam, was born just past midnight in my candle lit bedroom with only my husband and midwife present. Right then I made a solemn promise to spread the good news about the miracle of water for labor and birth. Fast forward 23 years and here we are helping millions of families discover the empowering effects of laboring and giving birth in water. No wonder I love my job so much. Just read all the comments from mothers about their experiences in water and you will see what I am talking about. Thank you for spending some time on our site. Drop me an email and let me know what you think about birth and waterbirth."

- Barbara Harper

The Oregonian newspaper referred to Barbara Harper as "the Billy Graham of waterbirth" when they described her "missionary" style of promoting waterbirth around the world. She prefers to think of herself more as the "Mother Theresa" of waterbirth, having put all of her personal and professional resources into making waterbirth an available option for all women.

Her expertise in waterbirth and gentle, undisturbed birth is widely sought in all areas of the globe. She has lectured in 35 countries, including many medical schools, nursing schools, midwifery programs and university women’s studies departments. Barbara has been interviewed by hundreds of newspapers and magazines and has appeared on dozens of radio and TV shows to talk about her work with waterbirth and gentle birth.

Barbara started her career in maternity as an RN, but not your regular run-of-the mill-nurse. She was always passionate about mothers and babies, even in nursing school. Her maternal grandmother, Estella Ethel Harper Lemonyon, was a nurse and midwife and worked in rural Mercer Country, Ohio, where Barbara learned from an early age what service, sacrifice and hard work were all about. She founded Waterbirth International in 1987 after visiting Russia for the first time and sitting down with Igor Charkovsky, where she was influenced by his complete faith in birthing women and their babies. She also worked extensively with Binnie Dansby, in the early 1980’s learning to respect the cognitive, but repressed experiences and memories of birth in all our lives.

Her research and experiences resulted in the publication of Gentle Birth Choices, book and DVD. She also produced Birth Into Being: The Russian Waterbirth Experience in cooperation with Alexi and Tatiana Sargunas in 2000, after traveling many times back to Russia. Midwives and parents alike have called her video programs "the most inspiring birth videos ever produced."

Single with three children, Barbara has dedicated her life to helping heal the way we welcome babies into the world. Her two youngest sons were born at home in water. Her daughter, Beth, the oldest, was born in a typical 1970s style hospital birth. Barbara and her children have lived in Wilsonville, Oregon, a suburb of Portland, for the past 15 years. There she is active in her church and community.

The most important part of Barbara's work is her close family:

* Beth - 28 - Now a post-partum doula, mom and community volunteer

* Samuel - 22 - Studying Electrical Engineering at USC in Los Angeles

* Abraham - 20 - Studying Mechanical Engineering & Graphic Arts at USC

* And her grandson, Alex - 9 - A third grader and all around great kid!

Philosophy and Comments        

Waterbirth International is a project of Global Maternal/Child Health Association. You have read that the Mission Statement for Waterbirth International is to "insure that waterbirth is an available option for all women." Waterbirth International meets all the objectives for the broader mission of Global Maternal/Child Health Association stated below.

Mission Statement:

We preserve, protect and enhance the well-being of women and children during pregnancy, birth and the early childhood experience.

Vision Statement:

We accomplish this through programs designed to educate both parents and professionals about the Gentle Birth model of maternity care which will improve birth outcomes, substantially reduce costs and extend benefits to all societies.

* We provide referrals to professionals who exemplify the principles of Gentle Birth and practice the Gentle Birth model of maternity care.

* We offer resources for parents and assist them in finding local community resources for education, support and social services.

* We offer resources for professionals worldwide to fully understand the implications of the Gentle Birth model of maternity care and we assist them in implementing changes in their practices and institutions.

What is Gentle Birth?

Gentle Birth is an evidence-based model of maternity care, developed by practitioners worldwide, which incorporates current research on the psycho-neuro-physiology of the mother/baby pair and the consciousness of the fetus/newborn in its care practices.

Gentle Birth employs wellness promotion, integrative health care modalities, and responsiveness to the unique physiology unfolding in the mother and baby in all aspects of perinatal care, and follows the dictum, “First, Do No Harm” when considering any intervention.

Rooted in a strong sense of “pure service,” Gentle Birth practitioners place the physical, psychological, and emotional wellbeing of the mother-infant pair, above all other system considerations and they uphold the right of childbearing women to exercise full autonomy in their care decisions.

Waterbirth: Easier for Moms...Better for Babies!™

Work Hours and Fee Schedule        

2007 Gentle Birth World Congress & Free Baby Expo        

You are invited… To the Gentle Birth World Congress

The Congress already has obstetricians, midwives, nurses, childbirth educators, lactation experts, alternative health providers, risk managers, lawyers, hospital administrators, healthcare executives, birth advocates AND parents registered. This is the ONLY conference where ALL DISCIPLINES come together to discuss and create solutions to the problems facing maternal/child health today.

Seminars & workshops are taught by expert international speakers, many of whom have taken on the system and changed their practice to include gentle birth principles. We all want the same thing … beautiful and safe birth experiences … for moms and babies……We must look at these issues and more:

• Do current care practices help or hinder?

• What do moms and babies really want?

• Can low-tech - high-touch lower costs?

• Can hospitals create special low-risk birth centers?

• Is waterbirth safe? Does it make more work for nurses?

• Obstetric “rules” — what does the research say?

• Who advocates for moms and babies?

• Can nurses, doulas, doctors, and midwives work together?

• Do nurses want to be Gentle Birth Facilitators?

• Have we forgotten the baby?

Two pre-congress workshops:

Waterbirth Credentialing Workshop – This full day workshop brings you up-to-date

research, protocols, selection criteria and common problems. Facilitated by experts from around the world, every question you ever had about waterbirth will be addressed. Proof of credentialing is now required by many insurance carriers. This workshop is the first step.

Midwifery Management of Neonatal Resuscitation - Karen H. Strange, CPM

This course covers the AAP/NRP course typically taught in hospitals but adds neonatal transitional physiology, physiological cord closure, and evidence based studies on the latest protocols.

Join us for the Gentle Birth and FREE Baby Expo

Three days of entertainment, hundreds of unique products & services, lectures for the public, baby wearing fashion show, a film festival and lots of excitement & fun!! This is an EXPO that you want to come to Portland for!!




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