When a life story begins - International Day of the Midwife

5 May 2020

We are the authors of our own lives.  The important characters are parents, relatives, friends, and loved ones. But there is one hero in these stories that the world is honoring today – on May 5 – the Midwives.

The International Day of the Midwife is not only a professional holiday for the medical specialists.  It is a celebration of safe motherhood and healthy childhood. 

In Turkmenistan, one of such heros is Hatyja Yuvshanova, a midwife at the birth giving facility at the Sandykgachy village of Tagtabazar district in Mary region. 

Caring mother of eight, she treats her clients with as much warmth and attention. Compassion is her credo in profession and life. 

“Women enter the maternity ward with so much anxiety,” she says.  “I greet them with a smile and optimism.  It gives them strength to overcome their anxiety, gain courage and have a positive experience.”

Hatyja wishes to pass on this credo to her younger colleagues.  After all, childbirth is a very intimate process. Women need reassurance that everything is going well.  What happens in the process is normal.  And that the midwife is on her side.

Therefore, ensuring high-quality medical care for women during pregnancy, providing quality care during childbirth and timely emergency obstetric care if necessary are the main tasks of the midwives. And for Hatyja Yuvshanova – this is what she loves doing since 1976.

In her native village, she welcomed almost all the babies. And today, looking at them, grown up, writing new books of their lives, she is proud of her work.

"To help the baby safely arrive into the world for me is the most important reward," she says.

Hatyja's husband Kurban Yuvshanov is the director of the secondary school #18 at the village and he helps to give a quality education to the babies and children born into the hands of the Midwife.  The couple is well-respected in the community, people often come to them with secrets, ailments or stress of the family life.  As the midwife admits, "we feel like second parents for all our children." 

I help deliver these babies and then they study at my husband's school.  The next thing we know - they get married and have their families.  That's how we become grandparents.  What an endless joy! 

The work of a midwife is not only about joy.  Childbirth is not always easy - especially when there are two or three babies born at the same time, when there are complications or emergency situations...

I remember every moment and every woman that I helped with a childbirth.  And it brings tears to my eyes that this young woman is alive and happy to have a child.  Giving life and saving life is my main task.

Giving life is not her only daily duty – Hatyja finds time to talk to and engage the future fathers, to conduct lessons for schoolchildren, to answer numerous questions of a woman in labor. A midwife needs to answer a thousand questions about feeding, swaddling, first aid, child care and self-care, contraception, birth spacing and disease prevention...  A midwife is a surgeon, a therapist, and a psychologist.

Thanks to the dedication of Hatyja Yuvshanova and thousands of her colleagues around the world, there has been a steady decline in maternal and infant mortality since 1990.

The commitment of the government of Turkmenistan to invest in the reproductive health of women and young people is key to improving the maternal and child health.

Over the past decade, UNFPA has supported the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan in improving the quality of midwifery education, including updating the list of competencies and curriculum, as well as guidelines on midwifery education in accordance with the recommendations of the International Confederation of midwives.

As part of the National strategy for maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health for 2015-2019, with support of UNFPA, the clinical practices on the role of midwives have been updated, and there has been a significant reduction in maternal mortality in the country.

Within the framework of the next programme cycle for 2021-2025, UNFPA and national partners will focus on new strategic partnership areas and continue to strengthen cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan, supporting the implementation of the National strategy for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health for 2021-2030.

Together with the Government, partners, medical professionals and midwives, UNFPA will strive to ensure that every pregnancy in our country and in the world is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.