The International Confederation of Midwives convenes every two years, and always in a different part of the world. The United States is represented by the American Association of Nurse-Midwives, and by the American College of Nurse-Midwifery. Participation in these meetings is exciting, stimulating, and thought provoking.
It is always exciting to represent one's own country, and one's own professional group. The stimulation comes from sharing our interest in the health of mothers and babies with people from all over the world. Day after day we take our place on the international team and learn much of problems, of accomplishment, of hopes that are common to all mankind.
Then we come home, and sobering thoughts crowd in on us. We know that in parts of our country our mothers and babies have access to the best care in the world. But in too large a part of this same country, for many, there is no care. We are told that our resources are superbly adequate. Yet in the world's neonatal health record we stand 10th. Why are we not in first place?
Part of the answer will lie in our ability to enlarge the field of comprehensive maternity care. And here we know that nurse-midwifery has an important role. But we will only play our part successfully if our common goal is to meet the needs of our families. There is danger of being sidetracked into thinking in terms of our own needs, and of professional status.
We are at the present time a small and potentially powerful group. Our education and clinical experience stem from nine or ten schools. We have a common background. We speak to each other. Is it not time, now, for us to meet, before we grow diverse and unwieldly, on an overall planning level? We could think in terms of pooling our common resources, respect and guard what is unique in each school, broaden our vision, and give each other the sharp impetus needed to get on with the job.
At home we need a definite framework on which to expand. And we have an additional responsibility. All nations are now our next door neighbors, and we must see to it that we build no professional or educational wall that would deprive anyone, at home or abroad, of the knowledge and experience needed to build health for mothers and babies.
Let us not be afraid to build wide, free, open avenues of communication with all the world. And may the result be a generation of happy, healthy babies in strong, secure families— living in peace.