An Ode to the Midwives in My Life

To the midwife who brought my first baby to the world.
Despite the doctor’s miscommunication,
she guided the lioness in me through nature’s vulnerability
the miracle of life brought to me through her hands.

To the midwife in my family, my mentor, my friend.
In my darkest place, nipples sore and breasts ready to explode,
you support me to be myself, to listen to myself.
“Relax, breathe, it is going to be alright”
you always say the words I need to hear.

To the midwife who showed us our first picture of the baby inside,
her heart beating and legs kicking, reacting to the moves I make.
To the midwife who put her steady hands on my shoulder,
guiding me through inhales and exhales.
To the midwife who reassuringly investigated my scars,
creating the safe space needed to speak.

To the midwives who’ve spent hours listening,
my worries, my joys, my expectations, my fears.
Listening to my story.

To the midwives I’ve listened to,
in maternity wards and through podcasts
invaluable words of wisdom.

To the midwife who brought my second baby to the world,
my little one so content.
She kept the room calm, speaking only when necessary,
supporting me with actions through the unbearable.
My blood, my pain, my screams.
She let me lead, when I felt nothing like a leader.
She calmed the quick storm in me,
and gave us space to welcome new life.

To all of the above who’ve helped me become who I am today.
Thank you for being with me – with women everywhere.

Giving Midwives the Respect they Deserve

Midwifery is one of the world’s oldest professions and midwives have been ‘with woman’ (the literal translation for the word ‘midwife’) for thousands of generations. The work of skilled midwives is invaluable in ensuring the wellbeing of expectant mothers, new mothers and their newborns.

Midwives postThroughout the years, midwifery as a profession has been subject to a plethora of misunderstandings, some as extreme as equating midwives with witchcraft. Even in the present day, at best, the role of the midwife is often misconceived as being simply about assisting births. Midwives around the world are undervalued. In the United States, laws prevent midwives from providing the full scope of care for which they are qualified. In the United Kingdom, midwives have recently been striking to get the pay increase they deserve. In parts of Asia, anecdotal evidence suggests that midwives are either wannabe doctors that failed to make the grade for medical school or poorly educated women who are unable to find any better work. In this year’s State of the World’s Midwifery (SoWMy) report, it was highlighted that in some of the poorest nations of the world, women seek medical rather than midwifery care because midwives are socially undervalued and receiving medical care gives a families a greater social status.

In the recent Lancet Series on Midwifery, midwives are hailed as “a core part of universal health coverage.” In addition, the SoWMy report highlighted the excellent value for money that midwives represent in primary health care.

Midwifery is “skilled, knowledgeable, and compassionate care for childbearing women, newborn infants, and families across the continuum throughout pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, birth, post partum, and the early weeks of life”. Midwifery includes family planning and the provision of reproductive health services. The services provided by midwives are best delivered not only in hospital settings but also in communities—midwifery is not a vertical service offered as a narrow segment of the health system. Midwifery services are a core part of universal health coverage.
-The Lancet Midwifery Series

Ten reasons why well trained and skilled midwives are important:

  1. Midwives care for women’s well being from pre-conception throughout pregnancy.
  2. Midwives assist women in having a safe and positive birth.
  3. Midwives promote normal birth.
  4. Midwives ensure the wellbeing of mothers and their newborns in the postnatal period.
  5. Midwives are trained to access appropriate medical assistance and perform emergency procedures where necessary.
  6. Midwives play a vital role in promoting sexual and reproductive health of women.
  7. Midwives advocate and empower women and mothers which in turn strengthens communities.
  8. Midwives focus on health promotion and disease prevention, viewing pregnancy as a normal life event.
  9. Midwives are a ‘best buy’ in primary health care.
  10. Midwives are the cornerstone of primary health care.

Skilled, highly trained midwives who value compassion and dignity are integral to communities around the world. Not only do they provide essential life-saving care to women and newborns, but they provide care and support to women far beyond what can be captured by research and statistics and play a pivotal role in empowering women and thus communities.

It is time to give midwives the respect they deserve.

 

Cover Photo Credit: Erling A, Flickr Creative Commons

Let’s Celebrate Midwives!

The International Confederation of Midwives held an awards ceremony today to honor and celebrate midwives from around the world. Save the Children, ICM, USAID and IPAS were some of the organizations who presented awards. Midwives have a unique opportunity to transform the data released in the recent State of the World’s Midwifery report into effective action for their countries. We had the opportunity to speak to some of these amazing awardees and they are outstanding examples.

Ponita Rani Raha, Bangladesh, Save the Children/ICM 2014 International Midwife of the Year Award

Ponita

Pronita is a member of a small group of practicing midwives in Bangladesh. She is committed  to saving the lives of mothers and newborns, and has helped formulate the midwifery curriculum in her country. She is a role model for other midwives around the world.

 

Agnes Kasaigi, Uganda, Save the Children/ICM 2014 International Midwife of the Year Award

AgnesAgnes Kasaigi, a career midwife in charge of the maternity unit at Uganda’s Buwenge Hospital. She is an expert in helping revive babies who have trouble breathing at birth and a trained facilitator of the Helping Babies Breathe program.

 

Serra Chanachi, Malawi, USAID Fellowship Awardee

SerraSerra Chanachi is a Malawian registered nurse-midwife with experience in reproductive health, maternal and child care, and primary care.

 

Yvonne Delphine, Rwanda and USAID Fellowship Awardee

YvonneYvonne is a midwife in Rwanda and received the ICM/USAID Family Planning Fellowship. This offers her an opportunity to bring increased attention to the importance of family planning and the critical role that midwives play in her country.

 

 

Anita SaySay Varney, Midwife from Liberia and USAID Awardee

AnitaAnita is a midwife in Liberia and received the ICM/USAID Family Planning Fellowship. This offers her an opportunity to bring increased attention to the importance of family planning and the critical role that midwives play in her country.

 

Ashiat Ajibola Ganiyu, Midwife from Nigeria and USAID Awardee

AshiatAshiat is a midwife in Nigeria and received the ICM/USAID Family Planning Fellowship. This offers her an opportunity to bring increased attention to the importance of family planning and the critical role that midwives play in her country.