May 5th is the International Day of the Midwife, a day set aside in 1991 by the International Confederation of Midwives and observed in over 50 nations worldwide. A 24-hour virtual event in honor of the day is being held here. In 1992, Florida Governor Lawton Chiles joined in this celebration by adding Florida to the growing list of states and countries that observe this day.
The World Health Organization states: “On the International Day of the Midwife, we pay tribute to the work of the midwives who are key healthcare providers in facilities and communities. They provide the high‐quality and cost‐effective package of care desperately needed by millions of women around the world. The World Health Organization recognizes the contribution of midwives to the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality and renews its support to quality midwifery!”
Florida Friends of Midwives will honor of this day in Sarasota on May 6th (5:30 pm, Selby Public Library Auditorium) with an exclusive screening of Guerrilla Midwife, a documentary recently showcased at the Sarasota Film Festival. The film follows midwife Robin Lim along the streets of Bali and into the Acehnese refugee camps of Indonesia, where the midwifery model of care is put to the test, at the epicenter of the turmoil following the 2004 tsunami.
No stranger to the international disparity in childbirth practice, Orlando Licensed Midwife Jennie Joseph was the first foreign-trained midwife to be licensed under the Midwifery Practice Act in Florida in 1994. “I trained as a midwife in England 31 years ago and graduated in May of 1981 with the knowledge that midwifery was the 'gold standard' of care for women worldwide,” says Joseph. “Imagine my surprise on arriving in the US in 1989, where I quickly discovered a total lack of interest, understanding or even acknowledgment of the importance of midwives for a nations health.”
Ms. Joseph is executive director of The Birth Place, a free-standing birthing facility in Winter Garden, and the developer of The JJ WAY, a Maternal Child Healthcare delivery model for indigent women. “Today, I begin to have hope that American's are opening up to the benefits of midwifery in matters of choice, safety, empowerment and economy; that we realize that the midwifery model of care can be the vehicle that moves us higher up on the list of countries providing exemplary maternity care for it's citizens, and that truly 'a midwife for every mother' is not an impossible dream,” says Joseph. “A heartfelt thank you to all the midwives - past, present and future and Happy International Midwives Day!”
Midwives have a long and valued history in Florida. The state first passed legislation to license direct-entry midwives in 1931, and the first Certified Nurse Midwife was licensed in Florida in 1970. Florida’s midwives have continued to tirelessly serve the families of Florida and to ensure the continued availability of safe, evidence-based birthing options for Florida’s families.
About Florida Friends of Midwives: Florida Friends of Midwives is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to promoting the Midwives Model of Care and supporting the practice of midwifery in Florida. Florida Friends of Midwives was formed to support midwives who offer safe, cost-effective, evidence based care to Florida's families. For more information, please visit www.flmidwifery.org.