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Communicating the “Why” of Midwifery

By Ginger Breedlove, CNM, PhD, APRN, FACNM, ACNM President

It’s the first week of October, a special time each year when we celebrate midwifery! National Midwifery Week provides an opportunity for each of us to reach out to someone uncertain or confused about our scope of practice, the types of midwives, or the safety of midwifery care in a variety of settings.

I challenge everyone to engage in at least one conversation this week about the emerging role of midwifery in the United States – in addition to your regularly scheduled celebrations, of course!

How can this be done? By communicating the “why” of midwifery! Why would a young woman needing contraception, a family seeking a maternity care provider, or an aging woman needing guidance with perimenopausal symptoms choose a midwife? According to renowned author Simon Sinek, sharing our “why” (what we want individuals to hear, our purpose, our cause, or what inspires us in our role) is critical. The “why” of what we do is the key that inspires others to listen and then act. Who would you share midwifery with that, until now, has not been on your radar? Whom have you been hesitant to speak with? Watch this TED talk and get inspired to share your “why.”

Here is one very important development to consider: this past July, ACOG’s board of directors unanimously amended and reaffirmed a College Policy on Midwifery Education and Certification to recognize and accept the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Global Standards as the common worldwide education, licensure, regulatory, and practice standards for midwifery, as well as express support for ACNM’s endorsement of the ICM standards. And in September, Jesse Bushman, ACNM Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs, and I were invited to speak with all ACOG state legislative chairs and their lobbyists at the annual legislative roundtable. ACOG members are increasing their knowledge and readiness to talk about midwifery and collaboration in care.

Now is the time to meet with midwives and OBGYN leaders in your community and across your state to discuss ICM global education standards as baseline for midwifery practice. Begin a conversation at your affiliate meeting about what this means, design a strategic priority addressing the ICM standards, or promote marketing for consumers to better understand the variety of midwifery models of care. Invite the state legislative ACOG chair or a CPM leader to breakfast.

If our common goal is to ensure safe, satisfying, quality care for all childbearing families regardless of place of birth, we must begin to talk with those who have, until now, not been part of our conversation. The most important experience in forming new relationships is establishing trust, transparency, and a willingness to listen to each other’s “why.” As understanding builds, an investment to work together may begin to emerge. You will not know unless someone makes the first contact. Let ACNM staff or your regional representative help if you need support to undertake this national priority.

I am keenly aware of the range of issues currently affecting ACNM members – from students feeling overwhelmed with the future to struggles to retain a midwifery practice and good salary; from work/life imbalance and exhaustion to challenges with scope of practice regulations, autonomy, and billing inequity to entering retirement with uncertainty of what is next . However, by speaking up and sharing your “why” with willing listeners, you may discover unanticipated opportunities.

Perhaps you will be encouraged by a quote from Jennifer Worth’s Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times: “Why aren’t midwives the heroines of society that they should be? Why do they have such a low profile? They ought to be lauded to the skies, by everyone.”

Let’s work together this week to take one more step toward making her statement a global reality! Happy National Midwifery Week!

Posted By Barbra Elenbaas | 10/6/2014 10:58:31 AM



Any opinions expressed in this blog are those of the individual participant(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. ACNM is not responsible for accuracy of any of the information provided by guest bloggers and/or members via the Comments section. We welcome all feedback – including comments, ideas and suggestions. We also welcome civil, friendly debates. However, any and all content that is deemed inflammatory or rude will not be posted.


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