Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Seeing Red - the use of the word "midwife"

Now I have seen & heard it all.... This is an interesting concept, a "Postpartum Doula", I am not sure this is the most apt title for them.

what infuriates me more is to see the words midwife and doula interchanged - yes I know this is an American article and YouTube..... but its time to be weary....when you see this sort of article.....
"Doulas can be two types, the mid-wife who assists the birth of your baby and the doula who assists with all the non-midwifery work"

What does this say?
It makes no difference if the word mid-wife is hyphenated or not... it still intimates a 'midwife' which indicates a professional status, a level of education and qualification, which the doula does not have in terms of midwifery or as "midwife". In Australia it is against the law to use the term 'midwife' if you are not a qualified 'midwife'.

The word doula comes from Ancient Greek δούλη (doulē), and refers to a woman of service as a slave.My understanding of a Doula is an assistant, someone who provides non-midwifery, non-medical support to a pregnant woman more physical and emotional support. They may begin in the antenatal phase through labour and in the postnatal period. the postnatal period would be as support, errands, housekeeping, cooking and childcare.... but no medical or midwifery input.

The 'midwife' is still responsible for the woman for up to 6 weeks postpartum. Yes i think that the "postpartum doula' has a place in society but use a different title because if you are working beyond the 6 week period.... you are assisting with newborn care and parenting issues or the transition to parenthood... this then becomes the early childhood period...

The roles of a Doula need to be clearly defined and the consumer/woman needs to fully understand the difference between the roles of a doula and a Midwife.

Definition of midwifery from Wikipedia: Midwifery is a health care profession in which providers give prenatal care to expecting mothers, attend the birth of the infant, and provide postpartum care to the mother and her infant including breastfeeding.

International Confederation of Midwives definition of a Midwife:
A midwife is a person who, having been regularly admitted to a midwifery educational programme, duly recognised in the country in which it is located, has successfully completed the prescribed course of studies in midwifery and has acquired the requisite qualifications to be registered and/or legally licensed to practise midwifery.
The midwife is recognised as a responsible and accountable professional who works in
partnership with women to give the necessary support, care and advice during pregnancy,labour and the postpartum period, to conduct births on the midwife’s own responsibility and to provide care for the newborn and the infant. This care includes preventative measures, the promotion of normal birth, the detection of complications in mother and child, the accessing of medical care or other appropriate assistance and the carrying out of emergency measures.
The midwife has an important task in health counselling and education, not only for the woman, but also within the family and the community. This work should involve antenatal education and preparation for parenthood and may extend to women’s health, sexual or reproductive health and child care.
A midwife may practise in any setting including the home, community, hospitals, clinics or health units.

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