The midwife considers the miracle of childbirth as normal and leaves it alone unless there’s trouble. The obstetrician normally sees childbirth as trouble; if he leaves it alone, it’s a miracle.

Sheila Stubbs

It’s clear to anyone who gives it half a thought that women did not always give birth in hospitals, and in fact, they most commonly would give birth in their own homes under the guide of an experienced woman. There were those who specialized in the birthing process and who helped it come to fruition naturally, and those women were called Midwives. International Midwives’ Day serves to remind us that the female body is perfectly capable of giving birth and carrying a child to term without some of the invasive methods employed by Obstetricians and other practitioners.

History of International Midwives’ Day

The history of Midwifery goes back to prehistory, though there are records all over the world of midwife traditions. These women are those who made a study of the birthing process and the vital role it plays in perpetuating the species and its cultural significance. While it’s true in ancient days their practices were based heavily in experience and superstition, today’s midwives are just as capable and competent at seeing a woman to term as the more commonly used OB/GYN’s and Obstetricians.

While there are men who specialize in midwifery, thousands of years of tradition has rendered this field of medicine almost exclusively a woman’s art. So much so, in fact, that in order to be a midwife in ancient Greece you had to have given birth yourself, making it an exclusively female practice. It is this history that led to the division between Midwifery and Obstetricians, a split that took place in 17th Century Europe. While the practice of midwifery fell off for a while in the past couple hundred years, there is a rising movement towards home birth that is making this practice more relevant than ever. International Midwives’ Day celebrates these intrepid men and women and the part they play in a happy home and healthy birth.

There have been a number of different themes over the years for International Midwives’ Day. Typically, a new theme will be set every year. However, there have been some years whereby themes continue onto the next. Some of the themes we have seen so far include the likes of…

  • The World Needs Midwives Now More Than Ever
  • Midwives Changing the World One Family at a Time
  • Midwives: For a Better Tomorrow
  • Women and Newborns: The Heart of Midwifery
  • Midwives, Mothers, and Families: Partners for Life!
  • Midwives: Defenders of Women’s Rights

Irrespective of the theme, there are three key aims when it comes to International Midwives’ Day. So, let’s take a look at them…

  • Inform everyone with an interest in both justice and health that midwives are critical in lowering neonatal and maternal mortality and morbidity. 
  • Celebrate the achievements of midwives, as well as their contribution to improving newborn, maternal, reproductive, and sexual health outcomes. 
  • Motivative policymakers to implement change by recognizing the unique professional role of a midwife, as well as lobbying for adequate midwifery resources. 

Why it is important to celebrate midwives

There are a number of different reasons why International Midwives’ Day is an important celebration. This includes the following…

  • There is a shortage of midwives – When we discuss all of the amazing things that midwives do, it’s also important to take into consideration the fact that there is a shortage of midwives, especially in developing countries! This means that there are many challenges, and a lot of midwives experience a lack of support, low status, and poor pay.
  • Midwives save millions of lives every year – Since 1990, the globe has seen a steady decrease in newborn and maternal deaths. One of the main reasons for this is because more women are getting skilled midwifery care. 
  • Midwives provide critical medical care – Not only do midwives save lives, but they also provide a wide range of other important medical services. They can perform cervical and breast cancer screenings, as well as offering counseling and services. In some countries, they are also able to carry out basic emergency obstetric care. 
  • Midwives are important defenders of women’s rights – Last but not least, we cannot mention the importance of midwives without discussing how they do lots in terms of advancing the rights of females around the world. They can assist survivors of gender-based violence, as well as helping to prevent female genital mutilation (FGM). The importance of their work should not be undervalued. 

How to celebrate International Midwives’ Day

One of the best ways to celebrate International Midwives’ Day is by learning about Midwifery and the role it plays in home-birthing. If you know a midwife or one helped you give birth to your child, be sure to send them a thank you card or call them and tell them you appreciate them. Midwives tend to care very deeply about the children they help bring into the world, and love updates!

There are a number of other steps that you can take in order to do your part of International Midwives’ Day. Why not look for different ways that you can inform the public about midwives? You could organize a high-visibility event for the day. This includes anything from a marathon to a public performance, march, or a rally. Another option is to create a social media campaign. If you’re savvy with the Internet and you have a good online presence, you can encourage people to join in and share their own experiences regarding midwifery care. 

Extra Information

Dates
Every May 5th
Founded in
2008
Founded by
International Confederation of Midwives

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