Although Americans tend to celebrate Cinco de Drinko on May 5th, (and hardcore Star Wars nerds follow up “May the 4th Be With You” with “Revenge of the 5th”) there is another International celebration much more near and dear to my heart: The International Day of the Midwife.
What prompted to me write my first post was an impassioned view on birthing (ignited by my first birth 10 years ago) while waiting to give birth to my now 5 month old son. While honestly, it’s the weekend… I have five kids, it’s hot, my 5 month old didn’t sleep last night and my brain is fried and I don’t necessarily need to “work”… I’m here. Because I really, really care.
The International Day of the Midwife became official in 1992 by the International Confederation of Midwives (ICF) to focus on the role of midwives and midwifery globally.
“Midwives everywhere understand that by working in partnership with women and their families they can support them to make better decisions about what they need to have a safe and ful lling birth. It is evident that midwives deliver more than babies, in many instances they provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and play a critical role in promoting health issues in their communities.
Access to a skilled midwife can help reduce and prevent deaths of more than 287,000 women who die while giving birth, those who are left morbidities and 2.7 million newborns who die within the first 28 days of life because they have
no mothers. That is why we need to take this partnership between midwives and mothers to a political level. If midwives and women and their families raise their voices together to advocate for changes to midwifery and maternity services they can combine their political power to make more impact and bring about changes so that services meet the needs of women and midwives. (source)
Midwives are always have been an integral and intrinsic part of birth and birth culture in America and across the world. Though medical advancements are often key to helping (especially high-risk) babies survive and thrive, there will always be a place for midwifery, and this day is the day to highlight that.
A few thinking points:
- America is one of the only countries where midwifery is not the standard for of care for pregnant women and well-woman care.
- Midwifery became secondary to obstectrics in the 20s during Prohibition and Suffrage, when taking away choices and keeping women “in their place” were popular sentiments.
- Obstetric means, “To stand in front of, impede, to block”, while Midwife means, “With Woman”
Midwives are mainly for low-risk pregnancies, but even when a hospital and/or surgical birth becomes medically necessary, it’s possible to do it in the care of a midwife. (Although midwives have limited say in American hospitals, as we are archaic in how we care for women and children, but I digress) While she may not be able to perform the life saving acts that western medicine can, to deduce labor and birth to just the point of baby’s arrival is both ignorant and harmful. Those seeking non-medical support for pregnancy and birth should also check for local doulas. Every pregnant person deserves education and holistic care the entirety of gestation and especially during labor, not just delivery. They deserve to be treated like a person creating a miracle, not like a drive through customer.
The Business of Being Born is a great start in providing accurate information about modern midwifery care- if you are interested, you can view it in its entirety here: