The new Manitoba School of Midwifery may be starting its first class as soon as Sept 2000, although realistically, according to the dean of the nursing school (under whose auspices the new school will begin but will not remain), it will more likely begin in September 2001.
The new program will be a four year professional degree designed to produce midwives who can work relatively independent of the entire hospital experience for normal births, providing prenatal care, delivery, and postnatal care. In other words, they will be real midwives functioning as real midwives should. The description of the kind of people they are seeking for the first class was positive and encouraging: supportive of women and women's issues, professional, mature, able to work independently and so forth.
The long-term goal is to finally have a fully functioning midwifery system in Manitoba. Midwives would be professionals who work closely with all the other members of the current system and provide the kind of care women currently get piecemeal, with special emphasis on things like encouraging breastfeeding. Manitoba has imported midwives from England, Holland and Ireland for decades and they have provided an invaluable service in remote regions. Now we can start training and producing our own.
As someone who had to fight to have a delivery eighteen years ago without a routine episiotomy, drugs, stirrups, epidural and so forth and who had to fight to be allowed to nurse her baby; as a woman who saw enough improvement that I labored with the benefit of a wonderful midwife the third time around, only to watch her have to step back at the precise moment of delivery because the doctor walked in ... well, all I can say is; IT IS ABOUT TIME!!
Natalie K Bjorklund
Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Reprinted from Midwifery Today E-News (Vol 2 Issue 4, Jan 28, 2000)
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