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A very important article by Jan Tritten, 'mother' of Midwifery Today, calling for midwifery to be removed from medicine and reconstructed in its own unique category, where being mother-led is crucial:
Midwifery Is Not Medicine
The situation of childbirth around the world is frightening in a number of very sad ways. Medicine comes along with horrendous practices and ruins the miracle of birth, as well as the most important moments in the life of a mother and baby. What should be a miracle becomes abusive—a situation from which mom and baby need to heal. Bad practices are applied in most countries and linger on for decades no matter how much evidence shows they are contrary to health. A few examples are lithotomy position, artificial rupture of membranes, immediate cord cutting, drugs, episiotomies and separation of mother and baby (and, and, and…). Then these practices tenaciously hold on. I just asked on my Facebook page, “Have the hospitals in your area done away with central newborn nurseries and only have NICUs for sick babies?” The answers made me ashamed to be in the US. It seems that the UK has done completely away with nurseries, but most places in the US still have them.
Our starting point is all wrong. Childbirth has been wrongly placed in the realm of medicine. Childbirth is as unique as life; both can be going along fine, and then the need for medical care may come up and save a life or improve an outcome, but birth should not be placed in medicine. Birth belongs in the unique category of midwifery, and midwifery needs to be mother-led.
The way to change birth in the world is to put it into midwifery, and then take midwifery out of medicine. Just because we need some tools from medicine, does not mean midwifery is medical. It belongs as its own study drawn from aspects of psychology, counselling, indigenous studies, anthropology, massage, naturopathy and alternative medicine. So let us revamp midwifery to be a partnership with women, as in the New Zealand model, and begin to teach moms and dads from the time they are born how beautiful birth can be and how with truly good practices (mostly hands-off), mom and baby can be given a strong and powerful place to begin their new roles in life.
If you want to save the
world, save midwifery!
The greatest joy is to become a mother; the second greatest is to be a midwife.
When you destroy midwives, you also destroy a body of knowledge that is shared by women, that can’t be put together by a bunch of surgeons or a bunch of male obstetricians, because physiologically, birth doesn’t happen the same way around surgeons, medically-trained doctors, as it does around sympathetic women.
(Ina May Gaskin)