This media relations workshop was presented at the ICM Congress in Brisbane on Monday July 25. The topic is always popular and in this session the room was full with around 40 midwives from Australia, Germany, Japan, Malawi, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, South Africa, Sweden. Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, the USA, the UK and Zimbabwe. These midwives had a strong interest in media and a powerful desire to debate. We had prepared what we thought was a short presentation, with only 10 Powerpoint slides, but as each one sparked off a vigorous and extensive discussion, the one hour and 20 minutes passed by before we got to the last slide!
The main theme under discussion was how to get over the message that midwives in addition to their caring and compassionate role--are proactive, political and sometimes pushy. The objectives were to expand participants' awareness of the importance of media relations, and to exchange ideas about the best ways of using the media to heighten the profile of midwives and midwifery.
'Every picture tells a story'
Participants were first asked to react to two pictures showing midwives from around a hundred years ago: one showing a group of African-American midwives supervised by a younger, white nurse; the other a midwife/health visitor in the UK, who is engaged in weighing a baby in a community setting.
The pictures triggered a multitude of responses: although there were negative feelings evoked, for example about the conveyed 'superiority' of the nurse, there were also some very positive impressions relating to autonomy, professionalism and competence of the midwives. It was pointed out that they and their function in the community, were visible and recognisable owing to their uniforms, bags and equipment such as the scales. As these outward signs of the midwife are less obvious in contemporary, times, when midwives drive cars and may not wear uniform, how can the midwife remain visible and high-profile as the first-choice professional for childbearing women?
The third picture shown was a montage of much more recent photographs, all of which had been sent to ICM headquarters by various midwifery associations to illustrate their activities on the International Day of the Midwife. Midwives were pictured marching in a street parade, running an information booth in a market, making a street collection for sale motherhood funds, presenting at workshops and demonstrating for better pay and conditions. It...