This Saturday, May 5, is International Day of the Midwife. The idea for this day began with the International Confederation of Midwives and was formally launched in 1992. This year’s theme is “Midwives, leading the way with quality care.”
I find this theme appropriate in light of a recent recommendation that came forth from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists annual meeting that was held last weekend in Austin, TX. The recommendation that “To optimize the health of women and infants, postpartum care should become an ongoing process, rather than a single encounter, with services and support tailored to each woman’s individual need,” is not a “new paradigm in postpartum care” as they propose. This continued regular care during the “4th trimester” is something that midwives have understood and implemented for a long time. Standard of care in my area is three postpartum visits between 2-3 days and 6 weeks postpartum. Midwives truly lead the way in this type of care as well as many other recent ACOG recommendations, such as delayed cord clamping, limiting interventions during normal labor, and the benefits of water immersion during labor.
As I do every year, I will remember the midwives who have influenced my life and yes, my desire to be a midwife for other women:
- Penny Armstrong, who wrote the book A Midwife’s Story, that was my introduction to the path of a midwife and home birth
- Marimikel Potter, the midwife who cared for me through three pregnancies and assisted me during my two home deliveries.
- Thalia Hufton, Teresa Smith-Short, and Sylyna Kennedy, my preceptors and wise counselors as I studied, learned and grew into a professional midwife with my own practice.
- Ina May Gaskin, who shares her knowledge and women’s stories to the benefit of many, and
- Gloria Lemay, a renegade midwife by some standards, but a tireless fighter for physiologic birth and intactivism.
Happy Day of the Midwife, y’all!