And the linked question is, what does the new year have in store for women and families who want to access professional midwifery services?
I don't have time today, on the eve of the new year, to explore these questions at any depth. But I do want to encourage anyone who is contemplating the birth of a baby to be strong and value your knowledge of pregnancy and birth as quintessential events in a woman's life; a series of events that have powerful social and personal implications in your family and community.
What does the new year have on offer for midwives?
For me, I am looking forward to:
* being 'with woman', learning to work with and share trust with the women and their families, as we prepare for birth, work in harmony with and engage with the amazing God-given natural ability of a woman to give birth and nurture her infant.
* being a part of a complex professional team that provides expert maternity care for mothers and babies who experience complication and illness in their pregnancy-birth continuum.
* being a teacher and mentor to other midwives and women who seek to understand authentic midwifery.
* being a part of the midwifery profession, working through challenges as they arise in a time of major reform by both federal and state government in the regulation of midwives.
* being a life-long learner, willing to reflect on each experience, and apply the learning to my life.
* giving love to, and receiving love from, those around me.
And, what does the new year have in store for women and families who want to access professional midwifery services?
This will be dependent on where those women live, and what they are able to access. The standard options accessible to women in most Australian cities and large towns may provide maternity services, prenatal checks, hospital bookings and medically managed births, without any understanding of promotion of health through working in harmony with the woman's own healthy natural processes.
Basic midwifery care that is matched to each woman, with the midwife being committed to being the coordinator of the whole episode of care, and personally in attendance for birth, is not widely available.
My New Year's resolution is to continue working to improve access for women to basic midwifery services that promote and protect physiologically normal birth, and support women in making appropriate decisions when the natural process may not be likely to lead to good outcomes.