International Midwives’ Day

Today is a very important day in the midwifery calendar – it is International Day of the Midwife. There are many celebrations being held in support of midwifery throughout the world. It is a great opportunity for fundraising, raising awareness and raising the profile of midwifery through media releases and news coverage.

Many of you may already know this, but for those of you who don’t, the term “midwife” originated in England between the 1250-1300’s. It is translated from the words “mid” meaning “with” and “wif” meaning “woman”, so it literally means “with woman”. A midwife is someone who is trained to assist a woman to birth a baby. Though the role encompasses so much more than just birth. It involves antenatal education and assessment, labour care, birth care and postnatal care. There is also a responsibility to advocate for women and corporately work together to rectify injustices and unsatisfactory conditions and outcomes for birthing women in different communities around the world.

The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) has encouraged midwifery groups around the world to “take to the streets” and organise a walk in their local communities to highlight global midwifery issues. ICM’s ongoing theme, that started in 2008, is: “The world needs midwives now more than ever”. This fact is highlighted by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Millennium Development Goals (MDG). If you don’t know what I’m talking about, have a read by clicking the links above.

In September last year, the United Nations (UN) held a summit in New York, to assess the progress of the MDGs. The importance of women and children was highlighted by the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said “We know what works to save women’s and children’s lives, and we know that women and children are critical to all of the MDGs”. One of the big things that “works” as Ki-moon said, is midwifery. Midwives are experts in keeping birth normal. We can identify when problems develop that are outside our scope of practice and appropriately refer and transfer to obstetric management. Midwives have a key role in developing countries to reduce child mortality (MG 4), improve maternal health (MG 5) and promote gender equality and empower women (MG 3). We are important and world changing.

So congratulations to all midwives for the amazing, important, life changing, world changing job you do. You are all incredible. Three cheers for midwives – Hip hip hooray, hip hip hooray, hip hip hooray!!!

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