International Day of the Midwife: King's College London


Every year on the 5th May many midwives around the world celebrate the International Day of the Midwife (IDM). The initiative was launched formally in 1992 by the International Confederation of Midwives, with an aim to celebrate midwifery and to raise the awareness of the importance of midwives' work to as many people as possible.

Frances Day Stirk the President of the ICM tells us about the IDM for 2012

I was lucky enough to be invited to King's College London today to speak to the student midwives at a conference they had organized to celebrate the IDM. I arrived whilst my good friend Denis Walsh was giving one of his renowned inspirational talks, and then Paul and I enjoyed a cuppa with the bright and enthusiastic students who had greeted us so warmly. Mary Stewart, their fabulous midwifery lecturer, watched closely with pride as her student midwife conference organisers (wearing white ribbon sashes) sold deliciously high calorie cakes that they had made to sell, to help raise funds for the White Ribbon Alliance.


As I Tweeted as much as I could, I was delighted not to have missed the talk from Meghan Jackson a young midwife who clearly explained the history and work of the Association of Radical Midwives (hey, she said, I am not a hairy legged hippy!) with great passion. And she described the horrendous plight of the victim/hero Dr. Agnes Gereb. Meghan warned delegates that there could be similar issues for Independent Midwives in the UK if the situation of obtaining indemnity insurance to practise isn’t resolved appropriately.


The highlight of the conference for me was the ‘open slots’ session just before lunch, where students were given 5 minutes to talk about a topic of their choice. I sat in absolute awe as individual midwives-to-be made their way to the front and presented a variety of midwifery related ‘snippets’.

Jo got the ball rolling and gave us an international perspective on maternity care through her personal and interesting insight into life for women in South Sudan, where she had previously worked. It’s always grounding for those of us living and working in developed countries to hear the shocking conditions and levels of maternal and infant mortality in the Third World. Much of content of Jo’s talk reflected the injustice and prejudice against women and their lack of basic human rights. Utterly shocking.

There were some delights to follow. We were entertained by a student’s insightful and highly humorous interpretation of ‘spiritual midwifery’. This student was perhaps the best stand up comedian I have ever heard (really!) and the laughing in the audience almost raised the roof. Beautiful poetry written and read by another talented student gave me goose bumps, a personal story of birth in water from 21 years ago brought tears to my eyes, and there was a moving film to music and a slide show depicting the role of the midwife. Finally, a politically charged account of female inequalities (excellently articulated and so true) made me rear up with female pride.   Such emotions! My talk of positive birth and making change happen will hopefully give the students a few tools for their pockets as they work hard to deliver the change needed.

I just heard on the way home from the Capital that the efforts of these passionate smiling student midwives resulted in a donation of £226.20 to the White Ribbon Alliance… don’t you think that’s the best thing ever?

Congratulations to you all, and thank you very much indeed for sharing your day with me.

PS tomorrow I am helping my lovely daughter Anna and the midwifery students and lecturers at UCLan in Preston, in their efforts to raise money for the African Midwifery Fund. This organisation helps to improve maternity care in Africa, as part of the IDM celebrations. My wonderful niece Cathy helped me to make lots of biscuits yesterday at White Wickets, in her luxurious kitchen. Watch this space for day two.