International Day of the Midwife was founded by the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) to encourage midwives worldwide to express solidarity and take action to highlight the knowledge and skills of midwives.
Save the Children estimates 1.3 million newborn babies’ lives could be saved if midwives were at all births and had the right training and health system support. “Birth is the time of highest risk for new mothers and for babies,” remarks Dr. Joy Lawn of Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives program. “We need many more midwives to make sure that no woman, anywhere in the world, has to give birth alone.”
Midwifery is in crisis. While all childbirth professionals agree that the most important factor in labour is one-to-one continuous care – e.g. mothers should be attended throughout by someone dedicated to their own and their baby’s wellbeing – maternity services do not have the resources to make this happen and are struggling to offer this kind of care. Maternity wards are understaffed, qualified midwives cannot find jobs, and independent midwives will effectively become illegal in September 2013. Despite the Government’s targets, it is not common for mothers to see the same midwife throughout her pregnancy, and usually she will have a different midwife (or multiple midwives) for the birth, even if she chooses a home birth. Antenatal appointments may be just 10 minutes long, which does not allow either the midwife or the mother to really discuss any issues or questions properly. To do your bit to save midwifery, you might like to write to your MP or MEP stating your concerns and asking them to get involved with coming up with solutions. You could also visit the Save Independent Midwives Facebook page.
This International Day of the Midwife, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is encouraging folks to get baking midwifery-inspired cakes to show their support. To take part, visit the RCM Facebook page where you can post pictures of your finished creations! There are already some pretty amazing contributions to get you inspired.
You could host your own cake morning with friends to raise money for midwifery care, or get your work or local community involved. However you choose to celebrate, make sure you spread the message far and wide. If you feel that midwives are important and made a difference to your birth experience, it’s important to make your voice heard.
How have midwives made a difference to your birth experience? We asked three Green Parent readers to share their experiences:
“I love my independent midwife because she gave me the safe space around me to birth my third baby myself with no unwanted intervention. There are no words to describe how important and healing that experience was for me.”
“I would like to celebrate the team of midwives who supported me through three wonderful, natural homebirths. The ‘Broughton Midwives’ offered unwavering support throughout each of my pregnancies. Having my first baby at home was supported without question, having my first daughter there for the birth of my second was seen as totally normal and my desire to have a third home birth in spite of a positive strep b test was respected and supported fully. Following each drug and intervention free birth, my attachment parenting preferences were celebrated and encouraged as was my tandem feeding and feeding through subsequent pregnancies. This group of women strive to empower mums who follow their hearts and instincts both before and after birth and I would love to see them celebrated – Debra, Annette, Rosie, Rhian, Elaine and of course wonderful Zara, I love you all!”
“My midwife was amazing- from the moment I met her she filled me with confidence. She shrugged and said ‘why not? go for it!’ at my announcement that I wanted a home birth and, from then on in, supported my every whim. Thanks Steph – what a star!”