For the uninitiated, April 7th is celebrated as the World Health Day globally every year since 1950. A World Health Organisation initiative, the day is observed to draw worldwide attention to global health. The day is marked by various health-related events world over by governments and NGOs alike. And since this year we are battling the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the theme for the 2020 World Health Day is to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives and remind world leaders of the critical role they play in keeping the world healthy.
So this World Health Day, we spoke to Dr Vijaya Krishnan, who is a certified professional midwife and childbirth educator, about midwifery and its importance in the times of COVID-19. Dr Krishnan is also the co-founder and Director of Healthy Mother Sanctum, Natural Birth Center, and the leading official Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) in India. With a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and specialisation in Women’s Health, she has also created a gamut of Wellness Programs for Women throughout their entire reproductive cycle.
What is a Midwife
Dr Krishnan explained to us in detail about who is a midwife and what do they do, “A midwife is a health professional who cares for mothers and newborns- all the way from the pre-conception period to the pregnancy, labour and birth, as well as the post-partum period, including lactation support. A midwife is also trained for providing care for a woman in the entire reproductive years- from adolescence, all the way through menopause. There is extensive training and knowledge that the midwife has to undergo. The midwifery model of care includes monitoring the physical, psychological & social well being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle.”
Explaining the role of a midwife, Dr Vijaya said, “In India, the daai used to be the midwife and her skills were handed on from generation to generation. Whereas the professional midwifery is primarily where one has the medical knowledge and skills to know what is normal, what is out of the range and making sure that the checkups are done on a regular basis and all the parameters are within the normal range for the expecting mother. The midwifery model of care actually knows that when there are no risk factors involved, introducing interventions can become cascade which leads to more interventions and non-optimal outcome for the mother and the baby.”
Role of Midwives Amidst The COVID-19 pandemic.
We all are aware of how the COVID-19 pandemic has brought almost the entire world to a standstill. Even our country is under lockdown due to this highly contagious disease. Such a scenario poses a lot of difficulties for pregnant mothers since they cannot go to the hospital and meet their doctors. Dr Vijaya explained to us that how the role of a midwife is super important in these testing times of Coronavirus outbreak.
She added, “In this scenario of COVID-19 outbreak, rather than going to a hospital and putting herself at risk of coming in contact of a carrier, it’s better for the expecting mother to be attended by a midwife from a community she knows because then the chances of exposure become definitely lesser. Another very important factor is the emotional support that a midwife provides during these times. In the last few weeks, we have seen extreme spikes of information and expecting mothers are feeling extraordinarily tensed and they don’t know whom to reach out to, with so many tests and scans due. Now, the midwifery model of care assumes that the woman is healthy and she then has the confidence within herself to know that her body will give her an indication if something is not well and that the midwife will be available and accessible to her 24X7.
So in our practice, a small team of midwives is accessible to the mothers 24X7 and that allows them to rest better and be at peace. So, midwives are able to keep them emotionally protected in these vulnerable times. In the midwifery model of care, we believe that the tests, scans and other diagnostics are not the only things that are keeping the mother and the baby safe. So automatically in these COVID-19 times, this model of care works beautifully. Because the woman has been prepared and given the knowledge about what to expect, she would feel relatively confident and much more supported in the midwifery model of care.”
We hope all your doubts around midwives and their role is cleared by Dr Krishnan and you can share this knowledge with anybody in your friends and family who may have an expecting mother.