Editorial: Let's Work Together
by Jan Tritten
© 1999 Midwifery Today, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
[Editor's note: This editorial first appeared in Midwifery Today Issue 52, Winter 1999.]
As many of you know from my last editorial, a global alliance of midwives
is being formed to enhance the tremendous work the International Confederation
of Midwives (ICM) does
to network established organizations which are its approved members. Our
hope is to form an all-inclusive organization that would bring together
individuals and organizations of all stripes in order to strengthen woman-centered
midwifery worldwide. I have spoken to many midwives around the world who
express a need for an organization that works in a more grass roots manner
to counter the dangerous trend toward medicalization of birth.
Fifty midwives from various countries attended a meeting sponsored jointly
by Midwifery Today and the Association of Radical Midwives (ARM)
during Midwifery Today's London conference September, 1999. They agreed
that the formation of an international umbrella organization should be
pursued. It seemed practical to utilize the joint strengths of individuals
and organizations worldwide by bringing their experience together. For
example, Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA)
has already instituted definitions, values, ethics, protocols, position
statements, standards and practice documents. Since MANA embraces all
midwives in North America, it is experienced with how to form an organization
that invites and welcomes all midwives. MANA also works to bring in and
acknowledge consumers. Both MANA and ARM are very strong at working with
political issues. They both produce publications and both present domestic
conferences. Midwifery Today is strong in publishing, international networking
and producing both domestic and international conferences. The accomplishments
of many such experienced groups and individuals could be enhanced, encouraged,
utilized and brought together in a mutually supportive umbrella organization.
When I look around the world I see amazing strengths. I hope we can
each incorporate some of the best into our own practices, systems and
cultures. There are still places where midwifery is strong, and midwives
from these countries have a lot to teach us. Dutch midwives, for example,
are willing to teach, and we could all benefit from sharing in their knowledge.
American midwives have learned to fight for survival and some countries
look to them for that. They have also revived midwifery from near obliteration
and redefined normal birth based on the families they have been so privileged
In the Americas, we connect spirituality with birth, which to many Europeans
seems unique. The United Kingdom is way ahead on evidence-based midwifery
and research, and learning this specialty from our sisters "over
the pond" is empowering. New Zealand midwives taught us how a strong
partnership with women could change a whole birth system. In their birthing
homes, Japanese midwives have outcomes we want to emulate. Scandinavia
has not yet succumbed to the medical model even though most Scandinavian
births happen in the hospital.
A global alliance of midwives would promote the midwifery model worldwide,
not the medical model. It would emphasize woman-centered birth with autonomous
midwives who work at home, birth center or hospital. This grass roots
organization would promote mutual exchange and encouragement and would
define midwifery in broad-based, very inclusive terms. Traditional midwives,
for example, would be looked upon as teachers and recognized for their
Since the alliance is in its beginning stages, you have a great opportunity to
get in on the ground floor with your input and participation. It will be discussed
again at our upcoming conferences, and I'll let you know
what ideas emerge.
Midwifery Today conferences are exciting and thought
provoking because of the many wonderful midwives who attend them. We try to make
time within the conference to hear from registrants. Many of our teachers have helped
thousands of babies into this world, and all have learned much from the women they
have served. This dynamic combination of presenters, registrants and a strong program
makes for an event full of learning, soul searching and expansion. This is an excellent
environment in which to launch the Global Alliance of Midwives.
Together, I hope we will begin a long, strong working relationship "toward
better birth." See you at one of our conferences! Meanwhile subscribe to Midwifery
Today to receive great birth information in your mailbox four times per year.
Please email me with your ideas for the alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let us know if you are interested in getting information about the International
Alliance of Midwives (IAM), which we have decided will be an online community.
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