Friday, March 28, 2008

A Book for Midwives

Last year I got a copy of A Book for Midwives for Christmas. This book is published by the Hesperian Foundation and is available for FREE download on the Hesperian site. (Personally, I appreciate having the professionally printed, purchased version of the book because I think it would cost about the same in ink to print it myself, but without the nice cover! It is so fantastic that they make this available for free. What a resource. You can download chapters separately, if you have a specific interest in one over the others.) Hesperian is well known for its other publications, Where There is No Doctor and Where There is no Dentist, but they have a number of other excellent resources availabNe as well (all as free downloads and then also for purchase).

A Book for Midwives is so excellent, a true community resource, but also somewhat disturbing in its honesty and straightforwardness. It is basically a textbook for midwives or health care workers working in third world countries with very limited resources. I appreciated how it makes information/material available that is sometimes "hidden" in other books--it is simply written and extremely blunt. There is no fluff and nothing "romanticized" about pregnancy, labor, and birth. In a way, it was hard to read a book that makes it so very clear how very, very difficult things are for midwives and women in impoverished areas (living in the US, I am used to the "normal, healthy pregnant women" approach to midwifery care). The book covers a wide range of information from preventing infection, treating obstetrical emergencies, pelvic exams, and breastfeeding to HIV/AIDS, testing for STDs and cervical cancer, IUD insertion. There is also a section in the back of the book about medications, medication administration, giving injections, and things like that. It is very comprehensive. (Just a side note, in the section on contraceptives, the book is heavily in favor of hormonal methods such as pills and also very in favor of IUDs and sterilization.)

When I said it was "disturbing," I mean that it is a very sobering look at the reality of women's health and health care in other countries. It contains reminders such as "do not hit or slap a woman in labor" and other things that make you cringe.

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