Celebrated on May 5th each year, the International Day of the Midwife recognises the invaluable role of midwives in health. As the Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), I would like to personally thank midwives for their inspiring work in delivering quality care to women and newborns.
As I have reflected back on my own childbirth experiences, I remember the push to have an epidural, which I refused both times; instead, choosing on my own, less medicine to help me with the process. I also remember at the exact moment when I was pushing my daughter into the world glancing down and seeing my OB/GYN's hands up like he was going to catch a football and his head averted so he wouldn't miss a second of the University of Kentucky football game... another stellar moment.
Today in the Philippines, women and open-hearted men are at the forefront of a peaceful battle, the battle for Human Rights in Childbirth. In October of 2014, we had a gentle triumph: Dr. Teodoro Herbosa the Undersecretary of the Department of Health for the Philippines, came out publicly in favor of Gentle Childbirth.
For me, that morning when I saw a positive sign on the pregnancy test, I was filled with excitement, expectations and a sense of craziness. The thought of survival never crossed my mind. I didn't have to worry about affording care or being able to access a midwife, and I knew that this privilege was due to where I lived.
"A pregnant woman has one foot in the grave." This common saying reflects the reality in many developing countries: bearing a child is one of the main risks to a woman's life. In the poor countries of the world, giving birth is both one of the most significant days in a woman's life but also a time when she is closest to losing it.
When my dad was a kid, he would have the same conversation over and over again. He would patiently listen as people shared the stories about the events surrounding their birth and the role his grandmother, a midwife, had played. It surprised my dad that she had delivered so many babies, and that so many years later, they wanted to express deep gratitude.