Today is the International Day of the Midwife. The theme chosen for 2012 by ICM is “Midwives Save Lives.”
Many people have asked me why I feel the need to go overseas, because they see the work I am doing as a midwife here in the States as needed, valuable, and important. And the shortest, simplest answer is: to save lives. Complications of childbirth will kill 1000 women today, and probably none of them will live in Ohio. The very few women who give birth unattended where I live do so by choice, and with readily available emergency care a phone call away. The millions of women who give birth unattended in the majority world have no other option and no back-up plan.
As a midwife attending home births in North America, I see low risk mothers almost exclusively. When complications arise we are usually able to anticipate them and transfer to hospital care long before they become life threatening. Only very rarely will my actions make a life-or-death difference for a mother or baby. But there have been a very few occasions when I know that God has used my hands to save a life, and it is a humbling and breathtaking thing. That is what I became a midwife to do.