International day of the midwife, 5 May 2009: the world needs midwives, now more than ever.

Author:Bond, Grace
 
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Australia

The Australian College of Midwives Incorporated (ACMI) announced that this year the theme for International Midwives Day (IMD) would be 'Aboriginal Midwives for Aboriginal Women'. The ACMI has developed a scholarship trust fund for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to study to become midwives. All proceeds from merchandise sold on International Midwives Day (including hand-crafted quilts with traditional designs such as those pictured above) will be donated to the trust fund to support these women to reduce the costs of undertaking their studies.

Also in Australia, the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) celebrated International Midwives' Day (IMD) this year by acknowledging the important role midwives play in improving maternal health in Australia and throughout the world.

Ged Kearney, ANF Federal Secretary, said that International Midwives Day focuses attention towards the contribution and commitment shown by midwives to the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies.

"Every year Australia's midwives expertly assist mothers to safely birth their babies, caring for mothers, their newborn and families with professional kindness and skill. The World Health Organisation recognises midwives as the most appropriate health professionals to safely manage a mother's maternal care and the birth of their babies. Their incredible contribution should be applauded by government, the media and the community."

The ANF pointed out that although the contribution of Australian midwives is well recognised, particularly following the recommendations in the federal government's maternity services review, Australian midwives still need action to enable mothers and babies to receive the full benefits of their professional skills.

"Australia has some wonderful examples of midwifery services that are collaborative and use a multidisciplinary approach to maternity care; these models of care must be available to all mothers and their babies ... particularly in rural and remote areas. Australia needs the skills of midwives now more than ever."

More about the Australian College of Midwives is at www.midwives, org. au and the Australian Nursing Federation at www.anf.org.au

Canada

In Canada, midwives celebrated an announcement from the Saskatoon Health Region that 21 babies have been born since February when midwives' services in this province were first paid for by health insurance. About half of those babies were born at home in the care of one of four legislated midwives.

Saskatchewan is the seventh of the eight Canadian provinces that have a registered midwife programme to cover maternity care through public health insurance.

A study conducted by Statistics Canada in 2007 for the Public Health Agency of Canada found women who used a midwife as their primary caregiver rated their birthing experience as very positive 71% of the time, as opposed to 53% of the time when cared for by doctors or nurses alone. Supporters say midwives not only help ease a mother's concerns, they also relieve doctors of the workload for...

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