Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy International Day of the Midwife!

International Day of the Midwife - 5 May 2011

Over 340,000 women die each year, with millions more suffering infection and disability as a result of preventable maternal causes. The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), alongside UN agencies, World Health Organization (WHO) and a range of other international partners, is committed to addressing maternal mortality and morbidity through greater access to essential midwifery care worldwide, particularly in developing countries where 90% of maternal deaths occur.
The WHO has recognized that the promotion of midwives as the prototype for the skilled birth attendant is crucial for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals to reduce maternal and child mortality.

Why Choose a Midwife?
Well, most importantly, there's the midwifery model of care:

This model recognizes that birth is a social event and a life-transforming experience for the woman and her family. Birth is seen as a holistic process: professionals recognize the mind-body connection and treat the woman as a whole. Care is family- and relationship-centered and relationship. Midwives are trained to recognize the normalcy of birth and minimize technological interventions, but also to identify women who may require obstetrical attention. This holistic model recognizes that the woman’s mind and body are connected, as are mother and child. The goal is not simply a physically intact woman and baby, but a mentally healthy woman and baby as well.

This model is woman-centered, unlike the biomedical technocratic model, which is physician-centered. The woman delivers her baby, not the physician. Alternate forms of care are respected and used, such as emotional encouragement, touch, and non-pharmacological interventions. Midwives understand that birth is a respected process that cannot be managed or controlled. Unfortunately, only eight percent of pregnant and birthing women receive care from a midwife (see Declerq et al 2006).

Birth Models that Work, a new book edited by Robbie Davis-Floyd (and others), who studies birth models all over the world, has identified the elements of systems that do not work and those that do.
It is an exploration of anthropological, epidemiological, and medical research on various birth models. In areas with birth systems that do not work, mothers and babies are dying because of a lack of access to life-saving health care, or lives are saved but mothers and babies are physically and/or psychosocially damaged.  

Birth models that work “apply the latest scientific evidence to support and facilitate normal physiological birth, deal appropriately with complications, and generate excellent birth outcomes – including psychological satisfaction for the mother." She and her co-editors have discovered that the ideology that underlies all birth models that work is the midwifery model of care, which exemplifies the humanistic model. 

And if you don't take my word for it, get some further opinions in this video:

What are the Types of Midwives?
Midwives come in all kinds of different settings and certifications. Different states have different names and laws regarding midwifery.

A Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) generally, though not always, provides care in a hospital or birth center setting.

A Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) and a Direct Entry Midwife (DEM) generally practice in out-of-hospital settings, like home birth.

A Licensed Midwife (LM) means the midwife is licensed in her state.

A "Lay Midwife" means that the midwife is trained but is not licensed, either because the state she lives in has no license procedure or because she has chosen not to.

How Can I find a Midwife?
Check out:
Midwives Alliance of North America
American College of Nurse Midwives
The North American Registry of Midwives

Or find a Birth Center near you:
American Association of Birth Centers

Or find one in your health insurance network

How Can I Celebrate Midwives?
Find out if there is a local rally or event celebrating International Day of the Midwife
Join our local Friends of Midwives group or donate to one
Buy your favorite midwife a special thank you gift!

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