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International midwives day.

May 5, 1993 marked the third annual observance of International Midwives Day. In 1987 at the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM conference in Holland) the representative from Sierra Leone suggested there be a special time to recognize and honor the work midwives do throughout the world. Midwives saw this as a way to increase understanding of who they were and the work they did as well as a way of promoting midwifery care as the most appropriate care for childbearing women.

On May 5th, 1991, the first official International Midwives Day was celebrated. It has been observed in over 50 of ICM's member associations around the world, and ICM is working to have it recognized by the United Nations. "Safe Motherhood--Secures the Future of a Nation" was this year's theme.

Some of the celebrations that were held last year on this date:

* In Nigeria a one-day Reproductive Health Outreach for pregnant women was held in antenatal clinics and the markets of Ibadan. The market program was opened by the president of the Professional Association of Midwives of Nigeria. The days' events included a keynote address, health talks embracing the importance of ante-natal care, immunization, family planning, nutrition, and screening. Many talks were accompanied by demonstrations, and at the end of the day, educational materials were presented to the Ministry of Health for use in maternity clinics.

* In Greece, the International Day of the Midwife celebrations were attended by Health Ministry officials and also by the Archbishop. The Midwives Association put out press releases and various interviews were published in the newspapers, designed to familiarize the man and woman in the street with the role of the midwife. In Greece today, 99 percent of women give birth in hospitals or private clinics, and pregnancy and childbirth have been medicalized to the extent that only six percent of women give birth without the use of drugs to accelerate or induce labor. The Greek Midwives stressed how the role of the midwife has evolved from that of the traditional midwife, who simply assisted at the birth, to that of today's midwife, with four years scientific training. The roles of midwife and gynecologist-obstetrician were not to be confused, and it was important, if midwives were to fulfill their function giving maternity support, that the state incorporate them in maternity support programs.

* In Switzerland on the 5th of May, the Swiss midwives gave interviews on local radio programs and in the newspapers explaining the nature of the midwife's profession and her daily work. The Swiss French TV network is making a program that will go out in October, showing what it means to be a midwife, how she is trained, what her work is in and outside the hospital.

* A seminar was held in Ireland at which information was distributed about the International Day of the Midwife that could be used to promote the day itself.

* The Uganda Private Midwives' Association held their celebrations to mark the International Day of the Midwife at the City Hall in Kampala. In a speech delivered on behalf of the Minister of Health, Dr. F.A.O. Ebanyat congratulated midwives in Uganda and the world over. One of the functions of the celebration of the IDM is to point out to the general public the difference between midwife and nurse, and the Uganda midwives hope next year to start their preparations earlier and to build on this year's achievement. A videotape has been made of the day's activities, a landmark for the midwives of Uganda.

* Activities were staged in every state of Australia to mark the IDM. South Australia held a special service of worship at the Pilgrim Church in Adelaide, and received prime-time TV coverage. Other states put up information stalls in major shopping centers, put on picnics for midwives and their families, or distributed mementos to babies born that day. There was a very positive response from midwives and mothers visiting the stalls, and the event even attracted comment in the Australian Nurses Journal.

* In Sierra Leone, a Thanksgiving Service was held at Christ Church Pademba Road, and a one-day seminar was held at the midwifery school. There was also a showing of films.

* In many towns in Germany, and especially in those that have midwifery schools, the students and midwives were busy on May 5th at information stands, explaining the work of the midwife and trying to make the public aware of the problems of the profession, i.e. the scarcity of midwives and the bad working conditions. The theme of the activities was "Safe Birth for All." In Tubingen, students put together an informational leaflet and distributed it throughout the city. In Gutersloh an activity table was set up at which children could play while the midwives spent time with their mothers without interruption.

* Tremendous enthusiasm was shown by midwives throughout the United Kingdom in making the IDM a very special day. There was a service at Westminister Abbey attended by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and services were held in cathedrals and churches countrywide to mark the occasion. Other events ranged from stalls in market areas and shopping malls through tree planting ceremonies, tea parties, celebratory meals, concerts, seminars and study days, to receptions and meetings with members of Parliament. Widespread media coverage of both local and national events helped to promote the role and responsibilities of the midwife. Each baby born on the day was presented with a special certificate signed by the Presidents of both the International Confederation of Midwives and the Royal College of Midwives. Monies were raised to purchase a Landrover for the village of Magbil in Sierra Leone and to send teaching aids to midwives in the Kayakstan region of the USSR.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Special Delivery
Date:Jun 22, 1993
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