During the last week we have had the privilege of hosting a group of Japanese midwife educators and postgraduate midwifery students at Otago Polytechnic. Our Head of School Sally Pairman had organised an fairly full program for them. It was really interesting to meet these women and hear about midwifery in Japan.It does seem to be very different to New Zealand. Doctors have to be present for births, some doctors take more of an upper hand in the care than others. Since the 1950s in Japan birth has moved form 90% homebirth to more than 99.8% hospital births and numbers of licensed (registered) midwives have halved. Numbers of all other health professionals have increased considerably over this same period of time. However the midwives commented on the Japanese government's concern about the lack of Obstetricians and the medical professions reluctance to train in this area of medical practice. Here is an interesting article which highlights this issue In Japan’s Rural Areas, Remote Obstetrics Fills the Gap . This article talks about doctors assessing labouring women through remote technology.
I brought the midwives to our lovely little rural unit in Balclutha
. The midwives there Vicky Cook, Christy Soper, and Nicky Cox (Holly McMillan was missing) shared their experience as rural midwives and impressed the Japanese group with their commitment, passion, care and expertise for the job they do.
During their brief stay we formed quite a bond with these midwives and hope to catch up with some of them again in Glasgow in 2008 at the International Confederation of Midwives congress