It is really is heart warming to be able to write this update, because I know that all of you are just perching your butt cheeks on the edge of your seats to know about the state of midwifery in New York.
Well actually I was, because with the recent changes for the worse in Australia, and then this change in New York, things were looking bleak for women. Whether you love the idea of homebirth, or think that all births should involve epidurals and episiotomies, I'm not sure it sits well with any of us to think that we aren't allowed to make the choices that are right for us.
Personally, I find it so hard to contemplate that it’s not that long since the days when women were handcuffed to beds, shaved and given compulsory epidurals, and all in the name of “good medicine”. We’re talking within my lifetime, and despite how I feel most mornings, I'm not that old. Certainly not old enough that I should bear witness to such acts of barbarity.
I suppose that in part is why I break out in a cold sweat when I see stories that seem to move us back towards those dark days, and the de facto banning of homebirth within New York seemed to be one such small step.
So imagine my joy when I read this
"Across the state last night, the champagne flowed as women and their families celebrated the passage of the Midwifery Modernization Act!
Why did this bill pass during such a difficult time in New York State politics? Because women – and those who love and support them – stood shoulder-to-shoulder with midwives despite formidable opponents, limited resources, and little time to get organized."
Ladies of New York, I salute you. You are powerful, Amazonian women to have taken back your birth services so successfully.
And because I'm that sort of person, all this talk of powerful women made me think about who I would have up there if I were putting together a list of legendary midwives. I actually went online to look for one but apparently midwifery isn't big on Top 10 lists, because I couldn't actually find one.
So I'm going to start my own, and obviously any contributions are welcome.
My first nomination for a list of legendary midwives is Maude Callen. This awesome lady was born in the wrong country, at the wrong time with altogether the wrong coloured skin - she was a black southern lady growing up in the early 1900s in rural USA.
Despite that, she managed to get a 12 page spread in Life magazine in 1951, when she was followed by W. Eugene Smith who captured her life as a Nurse-Midwife.
The photos are just amazing, as are the many others you can find on the web, and show a woman who just seems to radiate wisdom and calm. So much so, in fact, it seems to come clean out of the photos and fill the space around you.
She served her community in often desperate conditions until her death in 1990 aged 92 years old. I'm sure she left a mighty big footprint behind.