A spring in their step … happy midwives’ day 

5 May 2020

Most bubs born in Australia are spring babies, according to Healthcare Australia, September being the most popular month for births.

So do the maths, rewind nine months … and it kind of adds a whole new meaning to the notion of “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year”.

In 2017 there were 306,000 babies born in Australia, keeping the country’s 33,500 midwives on their collective toes. That’s a baby born every 103 seconds. And each baby uses up to 3,000 nappies per year, which equates to about 918 million nappies nationally.

Midwife Susan and Baby Elke

Today, May 5, is the International Day of the Midwife, a time to celebrate the crucial roles midwives play in delivering a new generation safely into the world. Midwives, in some form or another, have been around for as long as women have been giving birth. There are even references to midwives in ancient Greek and Roman texts.

A survey in the US in the 1920s revealed there was a lower rate of mother and infant deaths during births attended to by midwives than there was for doctors. According to the American College of Nurse Midwives, women who use the services of a nurse midwife are less likely to have interventions such as induced labour, C-section and anaesthesia.

The idea of the International Day of the Midwife was first proposed by the Australian delegation and discussed among international midwifery associations at the 1987 International Congress of Midwives in the Netherlands. The initiative was formally launched in 1992.

Midwife Rosie at her graduation

This year’s International Day of the Midwife theme is “Midwives with women: celebrate, demonstrate, mobilise, unite - our time is NOW!”. Midwives work with women on a daily basis, partnering them in their care during the childbirth process. Through these relationships, midwives become trusted members of families and communities. According to the International Confederation of Midwives: “we need to take this partnership further. Women and midwives must unite to demand political action for a gender-equal world.

“We are the feminist profession. Midwives use their voice to speak up in community discussions around female gender mutilation, child marriage, contraception, and sexual reproductive health and rights. They can and do play an active role in driving progress towards gender equality in their communities and countries.’’

 “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.’’

Midwife Ella and Baby Jackson

On the International Day of the Midwife 2020, the ICM is calling on midwives to become “gender champions in their communities” and to become stronger partners with women, as protectors and defenders of women’s rights. “It’s time to take action!”.

This year’s objectives are:

  • Inform everyone with an interest or background in health and justice that midwives are crucial to reducing maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality
  • Celebrate the achievements of midwives and their contribution to improving sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn health outcomes.
  • Motivate policymakers to implement change by lobbying for adequate midwifery resources and recognition of the unique professional role of midwives.

The ANMF (SA Branch) celebrates and champions the very important role midwives have played - and will continue to play - as an empowering force in helping to bridge the gender equality divide both here and abroad.