Today is May 5th, the International Day of the Midwife
You might wonder why there is an international day of celebration for such a seemingly smaller or insignificant profession. You might even be someone who struggles to categorize “midwife” as a profession at all. I will save you the history lecture for the moment but suffice to say that midwives have been around for as long as human beings, sex, birth, and death.
For a profession that is utilized most commonly for perinatal care around the world, and in many places globally where health outcomes for the birthing parent and baby far exceed those of the United States, there remains a great deal of stigma and marginalization. Why do you suppose that is? Could it be that the profession is largely comprised of female-born and identified people? Could it be that these people train, mentor, and operate outside of large, patriarchal educational and healthcare systems in many areas of the globe? History and modern-day healthcare practices have a lot to say about why midwives are not as visible in some critical contexts. For now, we celebrate.
Today I want to make visible and relish the midwives in our world. Midwives are my people. Truly, they are everybody’s people because individualized, attentive, loving ferocity is what you get from midwives. We are not running wild in the countryside with scissors and herbs (although that sounds like great fun). The work is steady, long, and achingly beautiful. We know how to wait, rest in silence, sit on our hands, and offer grace simply with presence. The work is also swift, exhilarating, and devastating. We know how to let our hands do what is necessary without a thought, and retreat to our dens to lick our wounds when life goes exactly how it does sometimes. The work means you are as much an expert in exuberant and expectant life as you are in grief and trauma. It is the most thrilling, eviscerating, and heartfelt work I have ever had the honor to do.
Everybody deserves a midwife. While many midwives would admonish you for suggesting that they are deserving of celebration, do it anyway. Perhaps simply by offering heartfelt and fierce grace in return.