Hesperian Health Guides
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Midwives make a healthier world
Every day, thousands of babies are born into the competent and caring hands of midwives. This book is a tool for those midwives, for people who aspire to be midwives, for those who train them, and for anyone who cares for the health of women during pregnancy and birth.
Midwives come from different traditions, receive different training, and practice in different ways. Some go to school for many years, get advanced degrees and work in hospitals. Some watch and learn from older, more experienced midwives and serve women in their homes. Some attend short training programs and work in city medical centers or village birth homes. Depending on her training, a midwife might be called an auxiliary midwife, a nurse, a nurse-midwife, a professional midwife, a traditional birth attendant, or a traditional midwife. In this book, we simply use the name midwife for all these health workers, and we hope that all midwives, whatever their backgrounds, will use and learn from this book.
Completely revised and updated, this book covers a wide range of skills: those needed for the traditional work of attending births, and additional skills to care for other urgent health needs of women. (For more general health information, see a general health book like Where There Is No Doctor or Where Women Have No Doctor.) To be useful to as many people as possible, the book uses clear and simple language and hundreds of drawings, and suggests the most simple, low-cost treatments possible.
Any midwife, no matter where she works or how she was trained, can make a difference in the health and well-being of her community. Whether you are a student learning midwifery at a school in the city, an experienced village healer, a nurse in a community clinic, or anyone else who cares for the health of women and children, we invite you to use this book to learn, to teach, and to heal.