Traditional Aboriginal birthing practices are as diverse as the number of Aboriginal nations. However, all nations generally believe that being born is a sacred event – it is the entrance of a new spirit into the world.

In all cultures, women experienced in childbirth have traditionally attended births, and such caregivers generally gained their knowledge through apprenticeships with older, more experienced midwives.

As modern medical intervention has spread by doctors to Aboriginal health services, many ancient birthing and midwifery practices have been lost and few Aboriginal midwives are left to pass along Indigenous knowledge in this and other areas.

The removal of births from many Aboriginal communities has had profound spiritual and cultural consequences, which are difficult to quantify. The loss of traditional birthing practices has been linked to the loss of cultural identity.

International Day of the Midwife.

On May 5th, 2011, NAHO joins midwives and their supporters from across Canada to mark the International Day of the Midwife. Five km walks have been organized in over 30 communities across Canada and in countries around the world to raise awareness and funds to tackle global inequalities in maternal and newborn health. Over 340 000 women die each year, with millions more suffering infection and disability, as a result of childbirth. An estimated 350 000 additional midwives are needed to save not only mothers, but over one million newborn babies who die every year from preventable causes. The world needs midwives more than ever is the message that NAHO will be joining with Canadians and midwives around the globe in making heard on May 5th.

NAHO, the First Nations Centre, Inuit Tuttarvingat and Métis Centre have developed resources to support midwifery.  We encourage Ottawa, the provinces and territories to fulfill their commitment to meeting Millennium Development Goals #4 and #5 (reduce child mortality and improve maternal health) by improving access to essential midwifery care.

National Capital walk is being held in Ottawa, beginning at the Women’s Memorial in Minto Park at 9:00am, located at the corner of Elgin and Gilmour Streets. The walk culminates on Parliament Hill, from 10:30am to 12:00pm. Speakers will include Anne Wilson, Catherine Carry from the Inuit Tuttarvingat, Maureen McTeer of the White Ribbon Alliance and Dr. André Lalonde of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada.

Click here for links to the numerous publications the First Nations Centre, Inuit Tuttarvingat and Métis Centre have produced on the subject of Aboriginal midwifery.