In 2007-2008 I had the gift of being able to practice midwifery on the South Island of New Zealand in a rural town on the edge of Fiordland National Park, Tuatapere. The town has a "medical centre" which houses "Tuatapere Maternity", a small rural "birthing unit" (similar to our freestanding birth centers in the US). I just returned from 3 weeks "holiday" there and caught up with many of the families I was privileged to serve during my time there. Great fun to see how these sweet babies have grown.
"The midwife works in partnership with women, on her own professional responsibility, to give women the necessary support, care and advice during pregnancy, labour and the postpartum period up to six weeks, to facilitate births and to provide care for the newborn.
The midwife understands, promotes and facilitates the physiological processes of pregnancy and childbirth, identifies complications that may arise in mother and baby, accesses appropriate medical assistance, and implements emergency measures as necessary. When women require referral midwives provide midwifery care in collaboration with other health professionals.
Midwives have an important role in health and wellness promotion and education for the woman, her family and the community. Midwifery practice involves informing and preparing the woman and her family for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenthood and includes certain aspects of women’s health, family planning and infant well-being.
The midwife may practise in any setting, including the home, the community, hospitals, or in any other maternity service. In all settings, the midwife remains responsible and accountable for the care she provides."
If only our government would see the value of midwifery care and breastfeeding...we could be a critical piece in health care reform. (Midwives have been "reforming" healthcare for a very long time!) We could benefit so much from implementing strategies countries the world over have embraced to decrease the maternal -infant morbidity/mortality rates, improve breastfeeding success rates and increase women's satisfaction with their pregnancy and birth experiences.