Chapter 1: Words to midwives
Work to improve women’s health
Midwifery is not just about treating health problems as they arise. Health problems
have many causes. Some are physical, some are social, economic, or political.
By treating social, economic, and political causes, you can prevent many health
problems — and protect more women in the community.
Working to treat social causes and to improve women’s health is not something
one midwife can do alone. She must work with the whole community.
Understanding causes and finding solutions is more possible when people work
together. See page 23 for ideas about working with others to make change.
People who affect a woman’s health
A woman’s health is affected by many people. To care for a woman, you must work
with those people too.
Some of the people that affect a woman’s health are:
• her husband, children,
parents, and other family
• the people she works with,
or works for.
• her neighbors and friends.
• community leaders —
including spiritual leaders,
government officials, and
• other health workers —
like traditional healers, doctors,
and community health workers.
A woman’s health can be
protected — or hurt —
by the whole community.
Anyone who influences the way a woman works, eats, has sex (or does not
have it), or cares for her daily needs has an effect on a woman’s health. Sometimes
the effect is good — it protects or improves the woman’s health. Sometimes it is
bad — the woman’s health and well-being are endangered.
For example, it may not help to tell a pregnant woman to eat more if her
husband always eats first and there is not enough left for her. She herself may
believe her husband’s and children’s hunger is more important than her own.
Who else could you involve to try to improve a woman’s nutrition, when she
does not have enough to eat?
• the woman’s husband, who is eating first. Perhaps you could talk to him
about how much food a pregnant woman needs.
A Book for Midwives (2010)