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“The world needs midwives now more than ever” May 5, 2013

“The world needs midwives now more than ever” May 5, 2013

May 5 is the International Confederation of Midwives ‘International Day of the Midwife’. Home Birth Aotearoa (HBA), the national network of New Zealand’s home birth groups, celebrates this day as a dedication to the powerful contribution midwives make to our society. “The homebirth community is immensely grateful for the professional care and service that midwives provide to our whānau and in the communities of our nation,” says HBA spokesperson Rachel Pearson. “We believe that only by increasing the number of women birthing at home can we improve outcomes for both whānau and midwives in terms of making the most of the individualised care that the partnership model offers, midwifery job satisfaction and professional practice.”

In acknowledgement of the midwifery profession, HBA have secured the screening rights for the independent film-documentary Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives on behalf of regional homebirth associations and support groups. “This film follows the story of Ina May Gaskin from her humble roots to her now established place as a globally respected midwifery practitioner and author,” says Ms Pearson. Winner of the Los Angeles Film Festival’s audience award in 2012, Birth Story captures the tale of a spirited group of self-taught midwives living within a hippie commune in the 1970s. Their wisdom and faith in natural birth processes rescued modern midwifery from near-extinction and changed the way that their generation thought about childbirth. Ms Pearson advises, “This film is an important watch for mothers and families, but especially for midwives and other birth professionals. It demonstrates how The Farm preserved the knowledge that is mostly underutilised and ashamedly forgotten through technologically dominated and process-focused hospital births.”

“Ina May has taught us that for the majority of healthy women and babies, birthing at home is a safe and satisfying option. By offering home birth services to all healthy women, midwives can actively contribute to turning the tide on our out of control culture of medicalised birth. By committing themselves professionally to building strong partnerships with birthing women based in wisdom sharing and choices, midwifery efforts will go a long way in establishing a sustainable birth culture that is more consumer centered,” says Ms Pearson.

In 2011, Ina May Gaskin was awarded the Right Livelihood award for "her whole-life's work teaching and advocating safe, woman-centered childbirth methods that best promote the physical and mental health of mother and child."

The Farm Midwifery Centre (located in Tennessee) has served mothers, babies and their families for over 35 years, with a practice based on the belief that pregnancy and childbirth are natural life events. This philosophy is clearly very successful, with the incidence of anesthesia use, forceps deliveries, episiotomies and perineal tears all very low. The cesarean section rate is 2%, compared to a national rate of 32.8% in the USA.

International Day of the Midwife 2013:
• International Day of the Midwife is a global day of recognition for midwives, falls on May 5 each year and is supported by the New Zealand College of Midwives
• Check out for information on home birth in New Zealand and to contact your local home birth support group
• Check out for screening information for Birth Story
• Check out for information about the film


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