Inspiration, Maternal and Newborn Health
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Challenging Old Truths: Putting Research into Practice

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“Knowledge is power and we need that power to change practice”. With those strong words, keynote speaker professor Cecily Begley,  Chair of Nursing and Midwifery in Trinity College Dublin, started off the second day of the Nordic Midwifery Congress (NJF). Her message was clear: the work of midwives must be evidence-based and reflect on the interventions that they carry out on a daily basis.” Evidence-based practice is the key to excellent midwifery-care” Cecily Begley stated and encouraged everyone in the audience to reflect on what future midwifes will say 20 years from now about today’s midwifery-practice.

Looking back at this year NJF Congress, I am struck by how wide and varied the field of midwifery is. The presentations during the three-day Congress have covered subjects from how to manage postpartum hemorrhage to describing Danish first time fathers perceptions of the postpartum body. The congress is a great opportunity for professionals to meet and discuss how new research may be implemented in their own workplaces. The Congress has also given me a painful insight into how unequal maternal healthcare is worldwide.  While the Nordic countries face problems such as an overuse of CTG (fetal monitoring) and an increased incidence of cesarean section, other countries are struggling with larger issues such as lack of funds and other resources and shortage of trained work force within the health care sector.

By listening to Jenny Carlsson’s presentation of her Master Thesis, I learned that in Nepal there is not a single midwife who fulfills the international standard. Her study was conducted at a university hospital and aimed to investigate the management of intra-partum care in expected normal childbirth. Among the information presented there was data about that almost 87 percent of all first-time pregnant women in the study were subjected to a episiotomy during birth. Today it is well known that episiotomies are associated with postpartum complications such as infections and should not be carried out as a routine part of vaginal delivery. This is just one example among many that highlights how women are the ones who pay the price of medical ignorance.

But the Congress also provided me with inspiration for how health care workers have found ways to overcome some of these problems. As we learned from Roreen Mzembes presentation, a community in Swaziland have addressed the lack of trained midwives through community based peer support – with amazing results for the health outcome for women and their children. It’s a great example of how community-led, local and low-cost solutions can have a huge impact on the well-being and health outcomes for women and their babies.

I am grateful for the opportunity to attend to the NFJ Congress this year, and most of all I am grateful to all those midwifes and health workers out there struggling to enhance women’s, children’s and families’ health and well-being. You are all a true inspiration for a midwife-to-be. Thank you!

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Girls’ Globe is at the NJF Congress in Gothenburg, Sweden. Follow the conversations here on girlsglobe.org and through the hashtag #midwives4all on Twitter and Instagram. Learn more through the following links:

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