International Midwives Day ~ May 5
The idea of having a day to recognize and honor midwives came out of the 1987 International Confederation of Midwives conference in the Netherlands. International Midwives' Day was first celebrated May 5, 1991, and has been observed in over 50 nations around the world.
Included here is information to aid you in planning your events. Included are step-by-step guidelines for obtaining a proclamation from your state and/or local governments, samples of proclamations and request letters, a sample press release, excerpts from the International Confederation of Midwives newsletter, and a list of other ideas for celebrating. Please share the information with other midwives in your state or province. The more positive publicity midwifery receives, the more birth choices women will have!
Have fun celebrating this special day! And please let us know what was accomplished in your area in the way of proclamations and events to further promote midwifery care for childbearing women.
Index to ideas for celebrating International Midwives Day
How to have a Proclamation Issued in your State or by your Governor
Sample Request Letters for Proclamation
Sample Proclamations from Various States
Press Release Guidelines
Sample Press Release
About Public Service Announcements
Excerpts from ICM Newsletters
- Obtain a proclamation recognizing this day from your governor or local officials. Make arrangements to pick up local proclamations yourself or send a representative of your organization or a group of midwifery supporters. Try to get press coverage.
- Plan a picnic in the park, a potluck dinner, or a rally for the families you have served. Consider opening it to the public and press ("come talk with some home birth families" or "come learn why these families used a midwife").
- Have an Open House at your office. Invite the governor, mayor, or your legislator to your event. Invite local doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, and health officials. Have a presentation ready explaining the benefits of midwifery care.
- Participate in a radio or TV talk-show or interview.
- Arrange a church service or plant a tree in a local park to commemorate the day.
- Make up and distribute flyers about midwifery and International Midwives' Day. Send out to the public, legislators, policy makers, insurance companies, etc. Send legislators a "new constituent birth announcement". Office supply stores now have stationary items like postcards and greeting cards that feed through your printer.
- Have a gathering of midwives. Send all the midwives in your state a copy of your proclamation, if you can copy it onto special paper. Frame it and take your local midwife out to lunch and present the proclamation to her as an award. Call some clients to join you and invite the press to an (inexpensive, easy to organize) Award Ceremony in honor of this day.
- Wear lapel ribbons signifying the day (in Michigan, they wear blue and pink ribbons). Let people at other meetings you attend know that International Midwives Day is coming up. Take some ribbons along, distribute them and ask people to wear them on May 5.
- Send out Public Service Announcements to local radio and TV.
- Arrange to have a display or a booth in a shopping mall or health, women's or children's fairs.
- Give special presents to babies born on International Midwives' Day. Send their pictures into the paper with birth announcements.
- Above all, get as much media coverage of events as possible. Send out press releases before and after International Midwives' Day. Take pictures at your event and send copies into the paper after your event. Make your celebration of this event as public as possible. Celebrate the wonders of midwifery with your community and reach out to those who are not yet aware of these wonders in order to educate them!
Proclamation to recognize International Midwives' Day
If you've never done it before, you may not realize how easy it is to obtain a proclamation recognizing International Midwives' Day. It is so simple that proclamations have even been obtained in states where practicing midwifery was still considered an illegal act!
A word about timing. If you're requesting a state proclamation, consider requesting it in February or March so that you have time to incorporate the proclamation into your other plans. If you are receiving this information closer to May than that, you can still accomplish a lot.
First, gather together your information about International Midwives' Day, midwifery in your area, maternity care in your community, and support organizations (such as State Midwifery Association, Friends of Midwives, etc.). If possible include written descriptions of its history and services. If necessary, contact the MANA Public Education Committee for MANA information. To develop your proposed proclamation use the sample text included in this packet. Feel free to make your proclamation speak to local issues. Officials may relate better to local citizen concerns.
Call your governor's office (or local official's office) to find out their procedure for issuing proclamations. Mention to them that you have a sample proclamation prepared that you would be happy to send to them along with your written request and information about your local midwife organization and/or MANA.
Ask if the official will have time to deliver the proclamation in person. Try to arrange press coverage of proclamation acceptance. Otherwise, provide name, address, and phone number of a contact person to receive the proclamation.
In some locations, issuance of a proclamation requires approval of a governing body such as city council or state legislature. You may need to have someone within that governing body sponsor your proclamation or a resolution and lobby for passage of it. This is actually a great way to educate officials without the pressure of passing a bill.
Be sure to thank the officials who issue proclamations and show appreciation of them by including them in any planned events to celebrate the day.
[Your Name] [Address] [City, State, Zip Code] [Phone Number]
May 5, 2000
The Honorable [Governor's Name] Governor of the State of [Your State Name] [Address] [City, State, Zip Code]
Dear Governor [Governor's Name],
The World Health Organization has proclaimed May 5th as International Midwives' Day. To help celebrate this momentous event we are requesting you to join with the Governors of Oregon, Florida and many other states in setting aside a special day of recognition for [Your State Name] midwives.
Midwives are valuable to your community because they:
- Help women and their families understand the importance of prenatal care; thereby reducing cost and improving birth outcomes.
- Promote understanding of the normalcy of the birth process, thereby reducing the need for drugs and unnecessary costly interventions.
- Provide support for enhancing communication skills, thereby helping women build self-esteem and better family relationships.
- Promote breastfeeding, thereby reducing infant illness and increasing parental confidence. Offer safe, low cost care to the women of your community.
I have included sample proclamation text, information about our organization, and some facts about midwives for your review. If you have further questions concerning my request, please contact me at the address above.
We appreciate your help in honoring the midwives that have meant so much to our families by proclaiming May 5th [Your State Name] Midwives' Day.
Thank you for your time and attention.
[Your Name] [Your Title]
From New Hampshire
State of New Hampshire
By Her Excellency
Jeanne Shaheen, Governor
International Midwives' Day
WHEREAS, midwives have been a part of the culture and tradition of New Hampshire since colonial days and are still important in this state's health care; and
WHEREAS, midwives provide a family-centered childbirth option that has grown in response to the choice of thousands of New Hampshire's parents; and
WHEREAS, midwives are dedicated to the care of pregnancy and birth and treat each woman's pregnancy according to the mother's unique and personal needs; and
WHEREAS, midwives provide the necessary supervision, care and advice to women during pregnancy, labor and the postpartum period, conducts deliveries on her own responsibility and cares for the newborn and the infant, and offers childbirth education and counseling to women on health needs, family relations and postpartum concerns; and
WHEREAS, the World Health Organization, the International Confederation of Midwives and the Midwives Alliance of North America have noted the impact midwifery care has on improving the infant mortality rate worldwide; and
WHEREAS, the goals of the NH Midwives Association, the NH Midwifery Council and the NH Chapter of the American College of Nurse-Midwives include improving birth outcomes in the State of New Hampshire.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Jeanne Shaheen, Governor of the State of New Hampshire, do hereby proclaim May 5, 2000 as
INTERNATIONAL MIDWIVES' DAY
in New Hampshire, and urge all citizens to join in this observance.
From San Francisco
Whereas the City and County of San Francisco is extremely proud to honor and recognize Midwifery as the standard of safe maternity care worldwide, as endorsed by the World Health Organization; and
Whereas we celebrate the changes occurring across the country as Midwifery expands the health-care options of birthing families in this City, and all over the United States; and
Whereas childbirth is a wonderful experience where the couple should be surrounded by friends and family; and
Whereas Midwifery has a positive impact on infant mortality, and is well equipped to address the health-care crisis among poor women in this State; now
Therefore Be It Resolved That I, Frank Jordan, Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco, in recognition of their outstanding and continuing contributions to the people of this City, State and Nation, do hereby proclaim October 1993 as
Midwife Month in San Francisco.
Proclamation State of Florida Executive Department Tallahassee
WHEREAS, midwives helped mothers and children prior to written history and are still important in health care; and
WHEREAS, midwives provide a family-centered childbirth option that has grown in response to the choice of thousands of parents; and
WHEREAS, midwives are dedicated to the care of pregnancy and birth and treat each woman's pregnancy according to her unique physical and personal needs; and
WHEREAS, midwives offer pregnancy screening, prenatal care, childbirth education and counseling to pregnant women on health needs, pregnancy-related transitions, family relations and postpartum concerns; and
WHEREAS, the World Health Organization and the Midwives Alliance of North America have noted the impact midwifery care has on improving the infant mortality rate; and
WHEREAS, the goals of the Florida Friends of Midwives, the Midwives Association of Florida and the Florida Chapter of the American College of Nurse Midwives include improving birth outcomes in the State of Florida;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Lawton Chiles, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor of the State of Florida, do hereby proclaim May 5, 1992, as
INTERNATIONAL MIDWIVES' DAY
in Florida and encourage all residents to join in this observance.
Office of the Mayor County of Kauai Proclamation
INTERNATIONAL MIDWIVES' DAY
WHEREAS, May 5th, 1995 will mark the fifth annual observance of International Midwives' Day in over 50 nations worldwide, as proclaimed by the International Confederation of Midwives and the Midwives Alliance of North America, with the stated theme: "Safe Motherhood Secures the Future of a Nation"; and
WHEREAS, midwives have throughout time and in all nations provided healthcare to mothers, babies and their communities; and
WHEREAS, here on Kauai, today as in times past, midwives are caring for women and babies in a variety of settings; and
WHEREAS, midwives provide care for many aspects of women's and infant's health including: maternity care, infant care, breastfeeding issues, family planning information, menopause concerns and counseling; and
WHEREAS, midwives make a strong contribution to the health and well being of mothers and babies on our Island and other parts of Hawaii; now, therefore,
I, MARYANNE W. KUSAKA, Mayor of the County of Kauai, State of Hawaii, do hereby proclaim May 5, 1995, as
INTERNATIONAL MIDWIVES' DAY
and encourage the people of Kauai to become better acquainted with the services offered by the midwives of our community and the contributions they make to the families of Kauai.
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR PROCLAMATION
STATE OF OREGON
WHEREAS: Midwives helped mothers and children prior to written history and are still important in health care; and
WHEREAS: The Oregon Midwifery Council, founded in 1977, is a statewide professional organization of midwives and their supporters; and
WHEREAS: Midwives provide a family-centered childbirth alternative that has grown in response to the choice of thousands of parents; and
WHEREAS: The Oregon Midwifery Council is dedicated to safeguarding the right of every parent to choose where and with whom to give birth, as well as to assuring a safe experience for those who choose a homebirth; and
WHEREAS: The Oregon Midwifery Council strives to increase communication between midwives and other health care professionals; and
WHEREAS: The Oregon Midwifery Council has established standards of care, risk assessment criteria and a voluntary process for certifying qualified midwives,
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Neil Goldschmidt, Governor of the State of Oregon, hereby proclaim May 5, 1990, as
INTERNATIONAL MIDWIVES DAY
In Oregon and encourage all citizens to join in this observance.
Office of the Mayor Lake Charles, Louisiana Proclamation
WHEREAS, several years ago, midwives in Sierra Leone, Africa and England indicated what a fine and worthwhile gesture it would be to have a day designated which would bring a well-deserved honor and recognition to the tradition, skill, and services provided by midwives; and
WHEREAS, time has witnessed a miracle of growth of the original concept, and today, the Midwives Alliance of North America, MANA, is an international organization and, in our own area, there are a number of MANA members, all of whom are Licensed Midwife Practitioners; and
WHEREAS, use of midwifery services is not for every woman, but constitutes an option that should be afforded greater recognition and greater acceptance in our state and community. Particularly, this is true in this area because at this time Moss Regional Hospital has no Obstetrics Department and many low-income patients are forced to use the University Medical Center in Lafayette. This, of course, involves travel expense, day care, and inconvenience;
NOW, THEREFORE, I JAMES E. SUDDUTH, Mayor of the City of Lake Charles, recognizing the valuable services rendered by Licensed Midwife Practitioners and in deep appreciation of their dedicated services whenever or wherever they are needed, DO DECLARE the day of May 5, 1992 as
MIDWIFE APPRECIATION DAY"
and I earnestly request the citizens of our community to give sincere recognition to the continuing efforts of the MANA to improve conditions in prenatal care and child birth.
OFFICIAL MEMORANDUM STATE OF TEXAS OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
Midwives have helped Texas women and children throughout Texas history. They provide a childbirth option which continues to be the choice of thousands of Texas women. Midwives are dedicated to the care of pregnant women, and treat each woman's pregnancy according to her unique physical and personal needs. Texas Department of Health data show that midwifery is a safe health care alternative for women with normal pregnancies and that midwives have the lowest incidence of low birthweight babies of all types of obstetric attendants. Texas midwives meet mandatory education requirements, pay fees, and practice according to detailed standards and protocols. The World Health Organization has noted the impact that midwifery care has on decreasing the rate of infant mortality. The Association of Texas Midwives is dedicated to promoting high standards of midwifery practice and improving birth outcomes in our state.
Therefore, I, George W. Bush, Governor of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim May 5, 1995, as:
in Texas and urge the appropriate recognition thereof
Sample request letter for a local proclamation
Florida used this letter very successfully to get counties and cities to issue proclamations after the Governor had issued one. The Midwives Association of Florida arranged for people to pick up the proclamations.
August 30, 1993
Governor Chiles has proclaimed October 1-7, 1993 as Licensed Midwives Week in Florida. The Midwives Association of Florida invites you to join in this celebration recognizing the midwives who serve in your community.
The implementation of the 1993 legislative changes are providing an opportunity to increase the number of midwives to serve your community in the coming years.
Midwives are valuable to your community because they:
Help women and their families understand the importance of prenatal care; thereby reducing cost and improving birth outcomes.
Promote understanding of the normalcy of the birth process, thereby reducing the need for drugs and unnecessary costly interventions.
Provide support for enhancing communication skills, thereby helping women build self-esteem and better family relationships.
Promote breastfeeding, thereby reducing infant illness and increasing parental confidence. Offer safe, low cost care to the women of your community.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. For additional information and to arrange for our representative to accept your proclamation please call (put phone # here).
Public Education Committee Chair
Creating relationships with media people
If at all possible, get to know a personal press contact where you will be sending your press release. If you do not personally know someone at the newspaper or station, obtain the name of the editor or reporter assigned to the department you want your information to go to.
The lead paragraph should answer the 5 W's and H (who, what, when, where, why, and how) and be attention-getting. The body of the release can supply details that support the lead. Be brief and to the point. Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
Within your release, let the reader know what impact the event has on local people. Include any information on events planned. Try to have the name and phone number of a contact person included in the body of the article.
Press releases should always be typed and double-spaced on 8 1/2" X 11" paper, with 1-inch margins, preferably on letterhead. The top of page one should state in one corner when the release may be used. "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE" or "FOR RELEASE DURING THE WEEK OF MAY 1". The opposite corner should state the name and phone number of someone the reporter may contact for more information.
Limit the length of the news release to one or two pages, preferably one. If you exceed one page, do not break a paragraph at the end of the first page, and do indicate continuation. Begin the second page with "page 2" and a brief title.
Proofread the release thoroughly before sending it. Check spelling and grammar. Make sure the facts and contact numbers included are accurate.
Sample press release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Local Contact Person May 4, 1992
Contact Person's Phone Number
May 5th is the International Day of the Midwife, a day set aside in 1991 by the International Confederation of Midwives. This day honors midwives, who deliver 80% of the babies born worldwide.
This year Governor Lawton Chiles has joined in this celebration by adding Florida to the growing list of states and countries that observe this day. In his proclamation declaring May 5th International Midwives' Day in Florida, Governor Chiles recognizes the accomplishments and valuable contributions Florida's midwives have made to our state.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has noted the impact midwifery care has on improving infant mortality and reducing cesarean birth rates. WHO also recommends the training of more professional midwives, as they are the appropriate care providers for normal pregnancy and birth.
Although midwives currently deliver 4% of the babies born in the United States, that number is expected to grow quickly. More and more states are looking at midwives as providers for vital maternity care services.
Last year midwives delivered about 8.5% of Florida's babies. This amount will undoubtedly grow as the number of midwives practicing in Florida increases. Governor Chiles signed legislation that will allow the number of Florida Licensed Midwives to expand and efforts to increase the number of Nurse Midwives practicing in Florida are under way.
For more information please contact:
[Be sure to include any info on local events.]
Public Service Announcements (PSA)
Public Service Announcements, or PSAs, on radio stations are a great way to contact the public and let them know you are there. The purpose of PSAs is to inform and educate the public, not to advertise.
Call your local radio stations to find out their requirements and guidelines regarding PSAs. Most stations will have written guidelines for message producers. Follow their guidelines carefully.
Type your PSAs on letterhead, in all capitals, and double space. Specify the length of the announcement on the sheet. Time it yourself, making sure the length you state is correct. Your PSA is more likely to be rejected if it runs too long for their spot.
Write a letter to the station's public service director and introduce your organization. Explain your planned PSA campaign. Follow up your call with an appointment to discuss your campaign.
If you cannot make an appointment, send detailed information about the problem your campaign addresses, how your community is affected, objectives of your campaign, and the planned timing of the campaign. Include a fact sheet about your organization, including its goals, board of directors, address, and phone number. Follow up your letter with a phone call.
If you are successful in scheduling an appointment, bring your fact sheet about the campaign and your organization. Emphasize to the public service director the importance of the campaign to the station's audience. Ask for suggestions on how best to work with the station and get the director involved in your planning. Follow up your visit with a letter of thanks and let the director know when the PSA campaign will be delivered or mailed.