Midwives In India Save Women’s Lives

Midwives have had their share of stereotypes. To some, they are seen as a throwback to when women had to wait for hours on end to deliver a child. Back in the day, midwives were not taken seriously, nor relied upon to deliver babies safely. But times have changed, especially for some Indian communities.

In India, a recent phenomenon has surfaced with regards to this profession. Young women have been practicing as nurse midwives in Madhya Pradesh for women who need care in delivering their child. One of the young nurse midwives, Sanju Kaim, has recently delivered not one, but twins in the Guna district of Madhya Pradesh.

Through UNICEF, young women like Kaim are able to help pregnant women who travel from remote villages to health sub-centres like Madhya Pradesh to deliver their children. This is a far cry from delivering their children at home where medical help is not readily available. These health sub-centres have made it easier for women to give birth safely.

Young women like Kaim and Niranjana Parihar have aided in delivering babies that may have not survived had they been delivered at home. They are just some of the women who have decided to help out communities like Madhya Pradesh, which has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates.

Growing up in a country where doctors were revered while midwives were barely acknowledged in the medical field, I had the same perception, especially since I had an aunt who was an obstetrician/gynecologist. My perception changed when I was told during my pregnancy that besides my own Ob/Gyn being present at Shaina’s delivery, a midwife that was part of the practice would be present and deliver Shaina if needed. I was still unsure about having this midwife become a part of my delivery since I felt more comfortable with my Ob/Gyn. As it turned out, it was the midwife who delivered my child and made me feel differently about midwives in general.

My perception about the competence of midwives stemmed from ignorance and how my family viewed them in the past. That perception changed when Shaina was delivered by this woman who was more than capable and gave me the opportunity to see how unfair midwives have been perceived, then and now.

These young nurse midwives in India are making a difference in women’s lives by ensuring that pregnant women receive the care need as well as deliver their babies safely. That’s my take on this, what’s yours?

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6 Responses to “Midwives In India Save Women’s Lives”

  1. Amy says:

    I had my first child with a traditional OBGYN and had a truly horrible experience. There was one doctor at the practice who seemed to respect my birth plan and I wanted to work only with her, but unfortunately with a large practice, I found myself delivering with doctors who were not interested in our birth plan, treated our doula terribly and in the end made decisions without allowing us to have a voice in the birth of our own child.

    It transformed what should have been the most joyous experience of our lives into the most dis-empowering and upsetting experience of our lives. With my second child we skipped the OBGYN’s office and found an amazing midwife who listened, provided excellent medical care and gave us to tools to be empowered to make careful choices and have them respected. The birth of my son was a completely different experience, one I’ll treasure thanks to my midwife.

    Historically midwives were central figures in communities, being the person trusted to bring the community’s children into the world and offer comfort and support to mothers. In 2006 there was an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture, Washington, DC titled, “Reclaiming Midwives: Pillars of Community Support” that heralded the critical role they played.

    Midwives were highly respected and valued by the families they’d brought into the world and helped, but it was around the 1920s or so that the government began trying to regulate away the practice of midwifery. Harassment was tactically employed including dictating that they could no longer carry Bibles to read to the mothers to help pass the time during labor, but could only carry state-issued health manuals. Midwifery has been marginalized in the US to the point where most women today don’t consider pursuing midwifery as a profession and in some states finding a practicing midwife as an expectant mother is very difficult.

    But, I do see a growing movement here in the US to empower women and their birth plans and more and more women deciding the best way to accomplish this is with a nurse midwife. Celebrity advocates like Ricki Lake and her My Best Birth movement is also helping raise awareness of the options out there to achieve happy and healthy births. :)

    • Hi Amy,

      Thank you for your thoughts! I really appreciate the feedback. With my experience, I was really happy that my midwife was able to deliver Shaina and dispel any of my stereotypes regarding midwifery. It gave me the insight that was necessary for me to feel comfortable with my delivery.

      Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

  2. Emily says:

    Thank you for the article! I leave for a midwifery internship in India next week, and am soaking up as much as I can about the state of birth in India before I go. The empowerment that midwives can provide for women in developing countries is amazing, and I’m so happy to see people like you helping to bring this into the public eye.

  3. Hi Emily,

    Thank you so much for your comments! It was eye-opening for me to learn about midwives while I was pregnant with my daughter and I will always be grateful for the experience. Good luck with your midwifery internship in India! Please keep us posted about your experiences while you are in India, would love to hear about it.

  4. Hi Emily,

    Thank you for sending me your contact info and I look forward to hearing about your internship while In India. Speak to you soon!

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