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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Midwives. More than Baby Catchers.

Below is the introduction to the paper that I am writing for school. 

Would love to hear ideas, opinions, thoughts on this topic. Are you interested? Do you find this relevant? Do you as midwives and student midwives place yourself or desire to place yourself within the context or role of public health provider? 

What role do midwives play in public health?

The role of midwives within overall healthcare is seen to vary across nations. In some countries, UK and Canada, midwives are integrated into the overall maternity care system. In the UK for instance, midwives are the state mandated care providers for all normal healthy low risk women, the place of birthplace is irrelevant to the choice of care provider. In the US, midwifery varies from being fully integrated (CNM’s and CPM’s in some states) to unregulated and in some states the practice of midwifery is illegal. 

Midwives, if placed within the context of public health are in a unique position to screen women for psycho-social, and disease and illness risk factors, in addition to providing prenatal care. Pregnancy is a period of a woman’s life in which she will seek out the routine care of a primary health provider. Midwives have the unique opportunity to help women at a most critical period in their life.

The following is a historical review of the evolution of women’s health framed in the context of public health promotion. Through this review we will see how public policy has become shaped by the understanding women’s health is shaped by the biological determinants of a women’s biological. Understanding the specific demands that are placed on a woman, both physical and socially will help improve the health of women and in return the overall health of a population. Health professionals and policy makers, must focus their efforts in culturally appropriate ways in order to significantly improve upon the integration of preventative care in health promotion.

Through investigating the role of midwives in public health, I aim to show that even in the US, midwives are actively filling an integral role in maternity care and to differing degrees, general well woman care. The aim is to legitimize the place of midwives within a healthcare system, both in the eyes of the midwives themselves, but as well by other healthcare professionals and the community at large.

I seek to frame the context of this discussion in the ambitions set forth in the Ottawa Charter presented at the First International Conference on Health Promotion (1986), which first defined public health and initiated a platform for countries to implement public health. In addition, there will be a brief discussion of the numerous reports and bills that have come out in recent years including the Millennium Development Goals, the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, the State of the World’s Midwifery Report, the Affordable Care Act and more recently the agreements set forth in the Home Birth Consensus Summit that took place in Oct. 2011, It is my goal with this discussion to illustrate what is being done and has been achieved, while identifying areas of requiring further improvement.

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