I had the opportunity of attending the Midwifery Today conference, 'Reclaiming the Art of Midwifery' in Bad Wildbad, Germany, October 2004, through the YML programme.
My participation was made possible through financial assistance from the United Nations Food and Population Fund (UNFPA) Malawi office who sponsored my travel. Midwifery Today paid my registration fee. The conference was mainly in the form of discussions where participants freely shared their experiences. There were also lecture presentations in certain topics. There was a lot of emphasis on normal physiology of birth--the need for midwives to always use their hands because they are the best equipment as far as midwifery skills are concerned. Our hands and senses can be more accurate and reliable than machines. In Malawi as a developing country health workers believe that most of our problems would be solved if we had a lot of sophiscated and hi-tech machines. To the contrary there is a lot that we can do with our hands.
In childbirth trust is very important. It is about integrity where one's words should match with actions. Coupled with patience, trust can play a major role in situations like breech or twin delivery as these conditions require a lot of co-operation between midwife and client.
In Bad Wildbad, I had the chance to learn more about the work of independent midwives who do not depend solely on formal employment from the government and other organisations. These midwives care for pregnant women in their homes and conduct home births. There is also a very good referral network in case complications arise at home. Actually I was lucky enough to be staying with one of the independent midwives, Ursula Jahn-Zohrens. She took me along to some of her home visiting sessions, and I could clearly notice the one-to-one personal relationship that essentially has to be there between a midwife and a client.
Most of the conference presentations directly or indirectly stressed the need for evidence-based practice as opposed to mere routine. There is also need for thorough scrutiny of studies that tend to have a bias towards medicalisation of childbirth.
Through the various presentations that were made I also realised the need for leaders to have excellent communication skills, and the ability to condense and present a lot of material in a specific time period while highlighting the main issues in your topic. Leaders need to manage their time effectively.
I established an...