Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The midwife's role in the wider context of sustainability

Carolyn McIntosh has posted a video called "All about stuff" by Annie Leonard. The video challenges us to think about sustainability in terms of the wider global context.

Now I know I am a heretic when I say this, but I was getting a little tinnie bit bored with the whole sustainability 'thing'; another means of controlling my life? I love my car, fast food and heat pump! However, I have been challenged by Leigh Blackall to think about how midwives can contribute to sustainability in a global context.

Supporting breastfeeding and normal birth are two major aspects of a midwife's role that is fundamental to sustainability. Carolyn puts it succinctly in her post in which she talks about the effect of elective cesarean section on resources. As midwives we do not need to burn our bras or go on mass hunger strike, all we have to do is do our jobs! The question is: how well do we do them?

What do you think midwives can do to promote global sustainability?

Image: 'rainforest'
Ben Britten www.flickr.com/photos/29205549@N00/14782257


Leigh Blackall said...

Hi Sarah, well now.. you've sparked another question in me.. in what ways did that movie contribute to your tiny bit bored feelings? There is a conversation going on elsewhere between people who think that movie is good, and others who think it will turn people off. I'd like to know more from people who get turned off.. and ideas on what it might take people to think harder about sustainable practices.

The thing I saw in that film that struck me the most was about breast feeding and how toxic chemicals in our production lines enter the food chain etc. It struck me as a lever and aggitational element to get mothers active about sustainability, and I thought midwives would be interested in looking into this further and adding a voice to the effort.. I could be very wrong of course..

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for your reply, Leigh. I knew I would be in trouble when I wrote that comment about being bored. I was in 'Christmas consumer, spending all my money, don't care about anyone else' mode!

I guess I was being slightly cynical - its just that 'sustainability' appears to be the 'in' word at the moment eg there's a sustainability thread just being developed that is going through our new midwifery curriculum. I am not saying that is wrong - far from it. Its just that there is a lot of talk, and you aren't going to be in with the 'in' crowd if you do not regularly use the 's' word. Well, thats my impression - you'll have to forgive me, I've got Christmas Grinch syndrome.

Back to your point about the video. I wasn't bored with the video although I must admit I did think it was a tad long, but thats only because I am pushed for time at the moment, what with one thing and another. I thought it will be a great resource for when we do talk to our midwifery students about sustainability.

I also think you are absolutely right about the challenges for midwives, and I didn't pick up properly about the breast milk and toxins. That is very important for midwives to pursue so I do not think you are wrong.

I think midwives have to take one step back even further and ask themselves about how they support breastfeeding before they can then think about the subtleties of toxins in breastfeeding etc. Do we support breastfeeding? What information do we share with women about it? How do we facilitate the first feeds? What information do we give women about formula? What are our long term breastfeeding stats?

So a post about toxins will be coming up, I promise, although I must admit, I probably need to do a little more research for my own benefit/knowledge.