Which medical professional do Ancient Egypt, the Greco-Roman Age, Medieval England, and Modern America have in common? The answer is 'Midwife'. Ancient Egyptian papyrus details Midwifery as a recognized female occupation, dating back to approx. 1900 BCE. In Ancient Greece and Rome, Midwifery included a wide range of women, including 'wise women' who continued folk medical traditions, trained midwives who garnered their knowledge from a variety of sources, and highly trained women who were considered female physicians. Throughout history, midwives have been known by many different names, ranging from iatrin? (Greek for nurse), maia (Greek for midwife), obstetrix (Latin for obstetrician), and medica (Latin for doctor). The actual term midwife, however, comes from the Middle English word midwyf, literally meaning "with-woman." Known primarily for assisting with childbirth, Midwifery is a health care profession that provides care to women throughout their lives. Today, more than 300,000 women a year in the US partner with midwives to navigate birth, puberty, menopause, and other normal life stages. Midwives perform physical exams, prescribe medications including contraceptive methods, order laboratory tests as needed, provide prenatal care, gynecological care, labor and birth care, as well as health education and counseling to women of all ages. National Midwifery Week was created by American College of Nurse-Midwives to celebrate and recognize American midwives all across the world. In celebration of National Midwifery Week, we're going to be hosting a series of posts from one of our colleagues, Becky Carlton, BSN, CNM - a midwife currently working in Ethiopia. Through Doctors Without Borders (MSF - Médecins Sans Frontières), Becky traveled to Libya earlier this year into the heart of a revolution. What is known as the 2011 Libyan Civil War began in February and is an ongoing armed conflict being fought between forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi (the autocratic ruler of Libya who seized power in a military coup in 1969) and his regime and those seeking to depose him. With some details removed to protect the safety of those involved, Becky has agreed to share her experiences with us. I will be posting an entry from Becky's journal from Libya every day for National Midwifery Week - allowing us all a rare opportunity to see the medical frontlines through the words of this exceptional midwife. Journal From Libya: Part 1 Journal From Libya: Part 2 Journal From Libya: Part 3 Journal From Libya: Part 4 Journal From Libya: Part 5 Journal From Libya: Part 6 Journal From Libya: Part 7
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