Group photo of midwives from around the world infront of a big sign with the word MIDWIVES outside the ICM Congress in Bali.

Midwives from around the world gathered last week during the International Confederation of Midwives’ 33rd Triennial Congress. The theme for the 2023 Congress was Together again: from evidence to reality. It reflects our excitement for face-to-face engagement and points to the work we’re undertaking to implement the evidence which continues to demonstrate the investment case for midwives. In this post, Young Midwife Leaders share some of the ways they are creating change in their own communities.

The Young Midwife Leaders (YML) programme is a part-time, two-year learning and professional development experience for 15 early-career midwives and 5 executive midwives from the International Confederation of Midwives’ member associations.

Oluwatoyin Akinlade, Nigeria: Midwives Stand with Women in Emergencies

I was traveling to see my family with my 6 weeks old baby. In the same bus was a woman who was heavily pregnant and seemed uncomfortable. As I sat down, I asked her what the problem was and she said she was alright. Some kilometers away from our base, she said she wanted to use the restroom and defecate. I knew then that something was not right. I had in my possession my gloves and other things (I have a small bag I travel with containing medical supplies). So, I reintroduced myself and showed her my work ID. I asked to check her to be sure of what was happening as she wasn’t sure of her estimated due date.

On examination, the head of the baby was already on perineum and delivery was imminent. We had to quickly ask fuel attendants to let us use a space as we were in the middle of nowhere. I helped her remain calm and asked her to do what I say to deliver her baby. She was delivered of a beautiful baby girl and I had to bring out my baby things to help the newborn as she was traveling with none. This made me feel so fulfilled. We transferred her to the nearest hospital and called her family to let them know. This went viral in my country and I was also honored by my Midwife Association.

Midwife Oluwatoyin Akinlade receives award of recognition for her humanitarian aid.
Midwife Oluwatoyin Akinlade receives award of recognition for her humanitarian aid.

Philip Chirwa, Zambia: Midwives Educate and Change Norms

Despite evidence establishing midwifery continuity of care as the standard of targeting challenges in maternity care, implementation of these models has been slow in most developing countries. It’s for this reason that we need to rise up as midwives and became the agents for improving sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn health.

I’ve seen how the importance of involving family members in reproductive, maternal and child health programs has not been recognized – despite the many benefits. That’s why I’ve led the work to integrate a family unit into reproductive health services within Chilubi RHC catchment area.

Around the world and particularly in Zambia, family members tend to be the decision makers around women’s health care. They influence decisions on when to attend a health centre for antenatal care or to give birth, nutrition and workload during pregnancy, and health care for children. Unfortunately, family members are often unable to make good choices in such matters because they have been excluded from reproductive, maternal and child health services and education.

Integration of the family unit in health service delivery has so far helped people of Chilubi Island and prevented maternal and neonatal deaths.

This has been made possible by empowering every member of the family with adequate and accurate health information in relation to sexual, reproductive and maternal health so that informed decisions are made at appropriate times.

From the time the family members were empowered with health information, they have been able to recognize the need for pregnant women and indeed women of childbearing age to access the health care they need – and to know when and where to access it. This work has addressed three causes of the first delay in seeking care: lack of recognition of an emergency, lack of access of information and gender inequality. An improvement has been made in terms of early antenatal booking and facility deliveries by the skilled personnel.

Group photo outside the Chilubi Island College of Nursing and Midwifery.

Praise Dahunsi, Nigeria: Midwives Drive Multi-Sectoral Change

My YML project was a capacity-building training for Midwives in Ondo State, Nigeria on Respectful Maternity Care. It involved training sessions on effective communication skills, active listening, and cultural sensitivity to help midwives better understand and respond to the diverse needs of their clients. In addition, we provided training on best practices for providing quality maternity care, including psychological management, and prevention of maternal mortality and morbidity.

To ensure sustainability, we established a peer support network among the midwives reaching over 200 participants. We also emphasized the importance of informed consent, privacy, and confidentiality in ensuring a positive childbirth experience for women.

The project was implemented through a collaboration with the Ondo State Hospitals Management Board, Ondo State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (Ondo state chapter), and ERH (Equitable Reproductive Health) an NGO that specializes in maternal and child health.

The media advocacy component involved radio broadcasts, newspaper article, social media campaigns, and community dialogues to sensitize women and their families on the importance of respectful maternity care.
Midwife Praise Dahunsi and others at a radio broadcast.

The ICM (International Confederation of Midwives) respect workshop toolkit was used to facilitate interactive training sessions that encouraged midwives to reflect on their attitudes and behaviours towards women in their care. The toolkit provided guidance on how to create a respectful and dignified environment for women during childbirth, and how to address issues of discrimination and abuse when they arise.

To promote continuity, IEC materials, including posters, and flyers, will be developed and distributed to health facilities and community centres to promote awareness and education on respectful maternity care.

The project was well-received by midwives and women alike, with attendees reporting a greater understanding of the importance of respectful care and improved communication skills. Women receiving care at the facilities also reported feeling more respected and valued by their midwives.

Overall, the project succeeded in strengthening the capacity of midwives to provide respectful and dignified maternity care and promoting the rights of women to receive such care.

Edith Niber, Ghana: Midwives Foster Respect and Trust

Midwife Edith Niber attending to a newborn.

When I first met Amina (not her real name), a pregnant woman living with HiV, she wanted to know if I will record the interaction, and whether I will disappear like others after achieving my goal. Today, she is comfortable discussing health issues with me through the very social media she was so much afraid of. Thanks to my exposure to leadership courses under the YML programme; skills of which came in handy.

It’s necessary to continuously monitor all actors in the Midwifery space, if we want to achieve sustainable progress. More so, Continuous Professional Development, on soft skills such as emotional intelligence, is needed to complement the technical skills of Midwives.

Sabita Khadka, Nepal: Midwives Lead for Mothers and Newborns

All midwives should have leadership skills in their professional life to make work smooth and to better contribute in their working area, communities and country. It helps to organize things on a proper way and achieve the set goals in right time. After all they can be an advocate for their profession in the country to sustain the midwifery profession.

Midwives are change agents and care provider with good heart and compassion.

As a young midwife leader, I am doing a respectful maternity care campaign to all health personnel working in maternity settings. The theme is give respect, take respect with every individual.

We realized that the project can help to implement the quality of care and create positive childbirth experiences of every individual. However, in the scenario of our country there are some challenges. These include a lack of proper infrastructure, the nurse or midwife-woman ratio is not maintained, and support from organizations are not good.

The YML programme helps to motivate us to become good leaders in midwifery in our own country. It also helps us to communicate with midwives from different parts of the globe. The programme also helps us to empower and encourage each other to change the status of midwifery in our own area as well as around the world. Together we can reach our midwifery profession in a height to provide quality services and reduce morbidities and mortality of mothers and newborns.

Midwife Sabita Khadka and colleagues at a Workshop on Respectful Maternity Care.

Augustin Harushimana, Burundi: Midwives Learn and Teach Information and Communication Technologies

When I attended the 32nd ICM Virtual Triennial Congress, I could see how many Burundian midwives were not able to attend the conference because of lack of information and knowledge of how to use certain technologies. So, I decided to help midwives to attend. I planned to use each opportunity to train some midwives in Burundi to use technologies like apps for taking care in labor room and joining conferences online to network with others in the world.  

The main objective of the project is improving skills in technology and reproductive health for Burundian Midwives. This project has helped more midwives to take care of our patients with updated information in general and particularly sharing sexual and reproductive health information to many through social media.

I’ve traveled around Burundi to meet with midwives in different regions to be sure the project is understood. Midwives have been very happy to learn more about this project. 10 of 50 midwives received the Training of Trainers on the use of social media and Internet in the Midwifery Profession, at April 6, 2023 in Bujumbura town. After this, they will help others from different regions of Burundi to learn about ICT.

Midwife Augustin Harushimana sharing ICT skills with midwives in Burundi.

Thanks to this project around 100 midwives attended the virtual celebration of International Day of Midwife 2022 and our National celebration of International Day of Midwife 2022 was also online.

Now in Burundi, as you search on google about midwifery profession, more information is available online.

Now we have 3 midwives who attended the 33rd ICM Congress in Bali, because of using Internet in a good way. They applied for Abstract and succeeded to gain the bursary congress launched by ICM on website and social media platforms. I am happy when I hear these testimonies like these,

”oooh my God! Now I know to post something on Instagram, I will go in Bali, let me teach my clients and patients how I can participate in the IDM contest. Lucky to me, thank you Augustin! I will teach all my family, how my midwifery profession can be promoted even online by these platforms. Thank you ICM for this! For sure I am happy I will not loose time I will check and check the updates and I will post and share, comment all those updates on MAA, ICM, WHO, MOH etc…..”

– Evelyne, a Midwife trainer
Midwives after an training with Augustin Harushimana in Burundi.

”As I will understand how to use technologies in midwifery, I will not wait for my colleagues to reply in whatsapp group when i will need the information about some diagnostics. I will do a search and get it by myself. I will not continue to buy bundles of social media only but I will use bundles to attend meetings, to apply and to search for more knowledge in midwifery and I will still every time update. Now I understand the ICM website is a resource of sure informations in midwifery. Thank you for this opportunity to rise our good profession.”

– Parfait, Midwife member of MAA

The Conversation

3 Responses

  1. This article is truly inspiring! It’s amazing to see how young midwives are making a significant impact in their communities. Their dedication and passion for improving maternal and newborn health is commendable. I appreciate the personal stories shared in this article, which highlight the challenges and triumphs these young midwives experience. It’s important to support and empower them as they continue to lead change and create a positive difference in women’s and children’s lives.

  2. This article is truly inspiring! It’s amazing to see how young midwives are making a significant impact in their communities. Their dedication and passion for improving maternal and newborn health is commendable. I appreciate the personal stories shared in this article, which highlight the challenges and triumphs these young midwives experience. It’s important to support and empower them as they continue to lead change and create a positive difference in women’s and children’s lives.

  3. I am the host of a weekly radio show KPFT Houston for 20 years called Whole Mother Show. I would like to educate my community about your programs and YML and other work you are doing. Could someone connect with me to see if I could do an interview on zoom for the show. Thank you – Patricia Jones, CNM

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