NATIONAL MIDWIFERY WEEK
During a week in September or October, National Midwifery Week celebrates one of the world’s oldest professions. These clinically trained nurses provide safe, quality medical care to mother and child before, during and after delivery. They provide total care to ensure the health and education of the family.
Midwife History – 20th Century
Most deliveries occurred at home until the 20th century. With the advent of anesthesia, the allure of a painless birth changed attitudes. The scales shifted in favor of hospital deliveries and doctor-attended births. Before then, midwives and doctors both attended home births.
According to the CDC, mothers faced the highest maternal mortality rates of the 20th century between 1900-1930. The statistics point to poor obstetric care as one reason. At the time, Physicians shunned obstetrics care to the detriment of the mother and child. Unnecessary surgical procedures, including caesarian and episiotomy, paired with poor use of aseptic barriers and practices resulted in deadly infections.
Maternity care was not advancing as fast as other medical fields. Despite the need, nurse-wifery wasn’t established until the 1920s in the United Staes. Since that time, recognition as a respected profession has been challenging. Obstetrics, as a whole, found it difficult to gain a foothold in the medical arena.
Nurse-midwifery began in earnest in 1925 when American nurse, Mary Breckinridge, returned from training in England. She established the Frontier Nursing Service in Kentucky to serve rural mothers and children. In 1931, the first nurse-midwifery education program opened. The Maternity Center Association in New York City also received its knowledge of midwifery from a nurse who had traveled to England for training. However, the credentialing mechanism wasn’t created and approved until 1994.
Nurse-midwives follow in the footsteps of the nurses who went before them. They train at nursing colleges and universities across the country. Many of them were established in the early part of the last century by the very nurses who trained in England. The nurse-midwives earn masters degrees. They train and practice under an obstetrician or another medical professional. As medical professionals, certified nurse-midwives (CNM) offer a wide range of health services.
Some of the services include:
- Gynecological care
- Prescribing medications (in some states)
- Physical exams
- Prenatal, labor, birth and postnatal care
- Newborn care during the first 28 days of life
- Ordering and interpreting lab tests
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalMidwiferyWeek
Thank a midwife. If midwifery interests you, consider it as a career path. Learn what’s required by attending a career fair. If you’re a midwife, visit a school and share your experiences. Inspire a young student to a career that guides women and mothers-to-be bring forth life. Use #NationalMidwiferyWeek to share on social media.
NATIONAL MIDWIFERY WEEK HISTORY
In 1982, Congress passed a resolution for National Nurse-Midwifery Week during April 19-26. The week continued to be observed in April until 1986 when the observance moved to November. It settled into its current time frame of late September or early October in 1988.