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Modern Day Midwife Katie Moriarty reflects on the joy and pains within our daily lives, and the need to expand our commitment to moms everywhere.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author.
Spoiler Alert: This post discusses events in Call the Midwife Season 6 Episode 8
“Our future can never be wholly known to us. Our present like an arrow can point the way ahead but we never know where it will land or what will be waiting for us as we fall to earth.”
It is hard to believe that Season 6 has come to an end—and Episode 8 was such a mix of joy, pain, and life passages. Each storyline was so bitter sweet. What this Modern Day Midwife wants to focus on for this blog is the joy and pains within our lives. They are the moments that can take our breath away and they stay with us—often forever, and for me they are marked by the strength and intensity of not only the event but the emotions that are involved.
It is that look on Sister Julienne’s face with the culmination of all the effort that went into Shelagh’s amazing birth. This summed up the joy I feel being a midwife. It is the look on Barbara’s face when she sees the carousel. This brought to mind all those special moments within each of our lives and how they get reflected back and go on to live within our families as part of our family legends or lore. It is the storyline of Violet and her menopausal hot flashes and it marked the intensity of life and how time does not stand still.
We all continue to change and grow. It made me think of the trajectory of our lives and the pressures and nuances of a society that values youth and a brand of beauty. With the loss of Wilma from a complication due to her oral contraceptive pills – I reflected on all women that die each day during their reproductive lives. Yes – in the early 1960s there was a new horizon with contraception; however, we are again on a new unchartered horizon within women’s health care. And we need to gather our passions and mobilize for change. I really hope we are maybe at a tipping point in history and that the current state of affairs will catapult us all into trying to be change agents.
On Mother’s Day there was a gathering at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., called the March for Moms. March for Moms is a grassroots coalition that will make the issues and change makers in maternal health more visible to policymakers. They are a group of deeply concerned nurses, physicians, midwives, scientists, public health experts, parents and citizens—and they want more investment in maternal health. They are bipartisan and do not represent the interests of any one professional group, entity, or association, but they do represent moms and their families. Please check out the link below and see the work they are doing and possibly think of what you can do to help!
Christy Turlington Burns is the founder and CEO of Every Mother Counts which is a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. They inform, engage, and mobilize new audiences to take action and raise funds that support maternal health programs around the world. Go to the resources and check out their website link. I reviewed some of the stats that they had posted. They state that 800 women die during pregnancy and childbirth each day on this globe—that is 1 woman each 2 minutes! Over 300,000 mothers die every year. What is astounding is that 98% of these deaths are preventable. The USA ranks lowest in the developed world. It is often thought that the ability to protect the health of mothers and babies in childbirth is a basic measure of a society's development; yet, the USA is 60th in maternal child health rankings.
Every year, 700 to 900 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes in the United States — that is 2 women that die each day from complications related to childbirth or pregnancy. There are approximately 65,000 women that almost die –they are what we term near misses. As most countries have decreasing maternal mortality rates, the United States has seen an increase from the year 2000 to 2014. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in the United States is 12.1 deaths per 100,000 live births. We see great disparity in the MMR with black women facing a disproportionately higher risk of dying from pregnancy-related conditions when compared to white women. Here in Michigan we have received a State ranking of “F” – we are ranked 50th in the country. Go to the Every Mother Counts website and see where your own State ranks.
In the United Kingdom when there is a maternal death it is regarded as a systems failure and a national committee of experts investigates every aspect and after their analysis they publish the reports and this is utilized to assist in setting policy for hospitals. They have had great success in lowering their maternal mortality rate. But in the USA there is no comparable federal effort, and instead the maternal mortality reviews are left up to each individual state. We need to come out of the shadows and we need to expand not lessen our commitment to women!
As this season concludes, I think it is important to look to our past and then look forward—what do we see? I have hope that we will continue to be engaged, further our knowledge, and mobilize by taking action. I love Call the Midwife with its history and the power of relationships and I look forward to finding strength and joy in my weekly visits once again during Season 7 with the nurses, nuns, and midwives of Nonnatus House.
“At times the present seems most perfect when its seeds lie in the past and others life is rendered flawless when we look towards the future. Glimpsing, from within one golden moment all the joys to come might hold. We cannot stand still because the world keeps turning. Every year must give way to the next and its stories must be folded – tucked away like children’s clothes. outgrown, cherished, and never quite forgotten. 1962 was a year of great change at Nonnatus House, but there is always change everywhere. There are always new faces, new tears to shed, new joys to invest in; yet, the circle of love is not broken but expands. Love bears all things…. Love believes all things… hopes all things …. endures all things… and love never ends.”
Katie Moriarty, PhD, CNM, CAFCI, FACNM, RN is a professor on faculty at Frontier Nursing University and a Certified Nurse-Midwife with WSUPG CNM Service at Hutzel Women’s Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Katie serves on the Board of Directors for the American College of Nurse-Midwives as the Region IV Representative. Previously she was the Associate Director of the Nurse-Midwifery Education Program at the University of Michigan.
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