On Sunday, March 29, we’ll celebrate the premiere of Season 4 of the PBS series Call the Midwife. To honor the day, we’re celebrating midwifery in Detroit. The Health Authority, together with the Wayne State University Physician Group, Certified Nurse-Midwife Service (WSUPG CNM Service) and Detroit Public Television are co-sponsoring a pre-screening of the first episode. At the same time, we’ll celebrate as the DPTV Modern Day Midwives blog moves to the national PBS site, and the birth of our new nurse midwifery service. Just like the Nonnatus House nurses, nuns, and midwives, certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) will deliver community-based midwifery care while the Detroit Nurse-Family Partnership home visitors will counsel clients in their homes.
When I first brought up the potential for this event I had two interesting questions: “What is a midwife and for that matter—what does it mean to be a ‘Modern Day Midwife’?” The second question was surprising to me– “What is a blog?!!”
So here goes….. “midwife” means “with woman,” but each culture and country may have a different name or term. This past weekend I was in Quebec City, Canada. When I asked how many midwives practiced at the hospital we were passing by they just gave me a blank stare. I remembered the French name for midwife is sage-femme which means “wise woman.” A Danish midwife told me the name for her profession is jordmoder which means “earth mother.” Some may find it interesting to learn that the term obstetric is actually from the Latin term for “midwife,” obstetrix. The word obstetrix has its beginnings from obstare, because the midwife was to stand by or in front of the woman while she was assisting her during childbirth.
As a midwife we do “catch babies,” but we do much more. As a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) here in the USA we provide primary care and maternity care services to help women of all ages throughout the entire life cycle. We help women through life events and approach these life transitions as physiologic changes not a state of disease. We partner with the entire health care team, women, families, and our community but women are the center of our care. As a Modern Day Midwife and blogger we will take people into our current practices and share experiences from our personal lens. I try to showcase scientific evidence (and share resource links in case people want further exploration). I told my friend that blogs are posts that are on the World Wide Web and have been around since the early 1990s. I have seen blogs from just one individual or from a group like our trio of Modern Day Midwives bloggers.
I hope you will join us on the Season 4 journey as our Call the Midwives characters provide the poorest women in the East End of London with the best possible care. We will watch each episode reflecting on the experiences of Modern Day Midwives as we face the worst infant mortality in the nation and one of the worst maternal mortality rates.
Katie Moriarty, PhD, CNM, CAFCI, RN is director of the Detroit Nurse Family Partnership and a practicing certified nurse midwife.