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ENA in Izmir for 1st National and International Midwifery History Congress

Together Again: from Evidence to Reality



Emirates Nursing Association Midwifery Society under went in to exploring the Herstory of Midwifery  On 15th November 2023, Dr. Maeve O'Connell-ENA Midwifery Society Executive embarked on an enriching journey to Izmir, Turkey, has participated in the first International Midwifery History Congress. The congress provided a unique platform for Dr. O'Connell to deliver a keynote presentation titled 'Herstory of Midwifery in the UAE,' illuminating the historical perspective of midwifery in the United Arab Emirates. This report outlined the key aspects of the trip, emphasizing the significance of understanding and recognizing our midwifery heritage for a brighter future.


Dr. O'Connell " Herstory of Midwifery in the UAE,' illuminating the historical perspective of midwifery in the United Arab Emirates"


The congress was held over three days and included an opening ceremony, gala dinner and closing ceremony. There were plenary sessions and oral presentations by many PhD and undergraduate students. A highlight of the conference was music performed husband and wife duo (Yeliz cakir Kocak and husband) who played traditional Turkish music and got everyone dancing. In addition, the midwifery students of Ege University held an impressive fashion show event. Led by student midwife Ceren Yildrim who designed and created each piece, the students modelled various midwifery uniforms throughout the ages.


Dr. Maeve O'Connell's keynote presentation was a pivotal moment during the congress directly following the Chief Midwife Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent. Titled 'Herstory of Midwifery in the UAE,' the presentation delved into the historical evolution of midwifery practices in the United Arab Emirates. Dr. O'Connell highlighted the cultural, social, and medical contexts that have shaped the trajectory of midwifery in the region. The presentation aimed to foster a deeper appreciation for the roots of midwifery, connecting the past to the present and paving the way for future advancements. The UAE has seen significant improvements in maternal and newborn health outcomes over the past one hundred years under the visionary leadership of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan and her highness Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak Mother of the Nation who recognise and emphasised the importance of women’s health as a foundation for health families. Moreover, growing the profession of midwifery as a key component of this. The congress served as an exceptional platform for networking, bringing together professionals from diverse backgrounds and disciplines. Dr. O'Connell had the opportunity to interact with an extensive network of midwives in Turkey, exchanging insights and experiences. With an impressive 60,000 midwives in Turkey and three midwives associations, the event facilitated valuable connections and the sharing of best practices in the field.



One of the distinctive features of the International Midwifery History Congress was its multidisciplinary nature. Beyond midwives, the event attracted professionals from various fields, including doctors, nurses, and art historians, all united by a shared interest in the intersection of history and midwifery. This multidisciplinary approach enriched the discussions, providing a holistic understanding of the historical context of midwifery practices.

A recurring theme throughout the congress was the importance of heritage in shaping the future of midwifery. Dr. O'Connell emphasized the need to recognize and understand our midwifery past to inform and improve our future practices. By acknowledging the historical roots of midwifery, practitioners can adapt and innovate, ensuring that the profession evolves in alignment with the changing needs of society. Furthermore, this week Midwifery was added by UNESCO to the inventory of intangible cultural history, recognizing the sacredness of the profession who safeguard birth practices which are important for society and humanity. This acknowledges that midwives have fundamental knowledge which was been passed through generations, from midwife to midwife. One of the oldest testimonies of midwifery is from a temple painting in 3rd Century BC showing the birth of triplets of the Egyptian sun god Re. The pinard or fetoscope is an important symbol and tool of midwifery. Dr Maeve O Connell spoke about this in her presentation and a Turkish midwife Yeliz Cakir Kocak presented her with a beautiful gift of a handcrafted pinard from the congress. This will be a special treasured memory from the visit.



Dr. Maeve O'Connell's trip to the International Midwifery History Congress in Izmir, Turkey, was a resounding success. Dr Maeve is very grateful to Ms. Ghuldane Dhamla for the kind invitation on behalf the organizing committee and for all the hospitality and warm welcome. In addition, Dr Maeve would not have been able to attend without the kind support of the Nursing and Midwifery team at Fatima College of Health Sciences. The keynote presentation on the 'Herstory of Midwifery in the UAE' resonated with the audience, fostering a deeper appreciation for the historical context of midwifery practices. The networking opportunities provided a platform for collaboration and knowledge exchange among midwives from Turkey and beyond. The multidisciplinary engagement showcased the diverse perspectives on the intersection of history and midwifery. Ultimately, the congress underscored the significance of recognizing our midwifery heritage as a catalyst for positive change in the field.

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