Celebrating midwives!

Photo by F&G Photography at Luxmama’s Birth Culture Brunch 2019 for #choice2haveamidwife

Globally every year, International day of the Midwife (“IDM”) is celebrated on May 5th, giving thanks to this age-old profession lovingly ushering in new generations.

IDM began in 1951 out of a global need to recognise the life-saving work performed by midwives around the world and to bring more attention to maternal and newborn health issues. Today, the event is observed each year more than 50 nations and co-ordinated by the International Confederation of Midwives (“ICM”) in partnership with its member organisations.

In addition, the World Health Organisation’s (“WHO”) landmark announcement that 2020 will be the International Year of the Midwife and the Nurse (“IYM”) provides an important opportunity to continue advocating for strengthening of the role of midwives and the midwifery profession.

The ICM says: “Midwives play a vital role in the gender equality movement: Everyday, midwives, in every part of the work are upholding women’s rights to quality, and midwife-led care throughout the childbirth continuum. They can and do play an active role in driving progress towards gender equality in their communities and countries. Midwives around the world stand with women. They are by their sides during their most vulnerable moments, and fight daily for the recognition of their rights to choose a normal birth under the care of a Midwife. But they can’t fight this battle alone. In many communities and countries, midwives have lost their power of agency and face the same common challenges as women globally – such as lack of pay, disrespect, harassment and discrimination.”

“Midwives and women can be allies in the global gender movement. Together we can bring focus to the issues that women face, and together we can demand changes for a gender-equal world where all our rights are respected and upheld.”

The IDM further explains how this can be done by women and women-led organisations:

  • Demand your rights to make informed choices about your pregnancies and childbirth.
  • Demand your right to midwife-led care
  • Highlight the work of midwives in your communities and countries as a feminist profession.
  • Campaign for respectful maternity care as the right of every woman globally.
  • Demand an enabling environment to ensure midwives can deliver quality care for pregnant women
  • Defend the rights of midwives to practice their profession as a separate profession.
  • Advocate to governments that midwife-led care should be the first choice for women.

And to recognise the importance of strengthening the midwifery profession, we’re looking back at Luxmama’s Birth Culture Brunch held around this same time in 2019 in collaboration with the midwives association in Luxembourg – Association Luxembourgeouise de Sages-Femmes (“ALSF”). The theme was around Luxmama’s Human Rights in Childbirth Campaign #choice2haveamidwife, raising awareness for the importance for consumers to actually HAVE A CHOICE in their maternity care around the primary care provider and framework, which is not currently the case in Luxembourg, currently offering the medical/obstetrical model as default to high AND low risk women.

Photo by F&G Photography. From right: Nadine Barthel, president of ALSF, Anne Dahm, secretary of ALSF at Birth Culture Brunch 2019 in collaboration with Luxmama

With a free organic spring brunch and live music, we tried to create a fertile atmosphere for honest conversations between birth workers, families and concerned citizens.

It is well evidenced (Sandall et al. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013) that a well-staffed continuity midwifery model of care is the gold standard for healthy birthing persons (the vast majority of the population) and has significantly different philosophy and outcomes on how birth is approached. We’re talking fewer medical interventions, fewer preterm births, fewer pregnancy losses, more spontaneous births and no increase in risk to the newborn.

Furthermore, it is known that the midwifery model as primary care provider in pregnancy and birth, especially for low risk women is a more sustainable model, cost-wise and resource-wise and rather than spending those costs on unneeded medical costs leading to further risks, interventions and yet further costs, can be used to offer families further choice in their maternity care, for instance birth centers! And with maternity care costs in Luxembourg skyrocketing, one wonders why this is not a priority since all our neighbouring countries do offer these options which results in Luxembourg families opting for a birth center birth having to leave the country in order to do so.

The lack of a birth center as birth setting in Luxembourg further limits women’s choices. These homelike settings, run by midwives are designed to respect and fully support, not disturb naturally laboring women and are consistently rated highly in surveys of patient satisfaction. Yet there are none in the entire duchy. State support for birth centers run by midwives would meet a growing demand for such care and would also provide more freedom of choice in birth, since a birth center birth is a valid choice and it is the responsibility of the State, according to universal human rights in childbirth to provide all birth choices, since women are all different.

Read more here about the Birth Rights Awareness Campaign, #choice2haveamidwife at Luxmama.

If you are interested to get involved and be part of the change, do join the discussion in the FB group Birth Culture Luxembourg as well as join any of Luxmama’s monthly Positive Birth Movement Luxembourg coffee gatherings (as part of the global Positive Birth Movement), open to anybody wanting to hear, share or discuss more about positive births and birth rights.


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More about the author:

Mother of 2 children born in Lux, Preconception, Prenatal & Parenthood Doula, Marise Hyman provides worldwide coaching, healing and education in preparing for an empowered conception, pregnancy, birth, life and parenthood journey. She is an IMPI Perinatal Coach/Educator, IMPI Holistic Pregnancy & Child Sleep Practitioner, Happiest Baby on the Block Educator, “Becoming Us” Facilitator, Dancing for Birth™ Instructor, Holistic Childbirth Educator, Reiki Practitioner, Head-trash Clearance + Fearless Birthing Professional, “Birth into Being” Facilitator (level 1-3) and Calm Birth® Teacher.

She understands that we need to “heal birth to heal the earth” and is therefore also a passionate Birth Advocate and founder of the Luxmama Club & ParentPrep asbl, an NGO raising awareness for birth rights, perinatal mental health and green parenting through social and educational events.

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