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Ellen Cohens Memoir Captures the Essence of Midwives Serving the Worlds Poor and Working-Class Women

Midwifes Are Indispensable Members of Society, Our Most Essential Unsung Heroes The United Nations Population Fund estimates that at least 350,000 women die each year during pregnancy or childbirth, and 4. million babies die because o! inade"uate maternal and post#natal healthcare. For millions o! women in the United $tates and around the world, a midwi!e is the only contact a mother and baby may ha%e with any &ind o! pro!essional care. The care gi%en by a midwi!e in many instances comes down to whether a mother and her baby li%e or die. 'n northern Nigeria(s )igawa state, *isha +oh(d ,a-aure, with the help o! the U.,. Paths. aide, set up the state(s !irst midwi!ery school. $he is the school(s principal. 't/s a region in which 0 in .3 mothers die in childbirth and 0 in 00 babies do not sur%i%e. 1et $heri!a, 2pictured abo%e3 says, 4' want to be li&e our principal, ' see her as a mentor. $he/s %ery inspiring. This is what '/m called !or5 this is what '/m supposed to do.6 $heri!a(s li!e !ocus is to teach others to become midwi%es. To de%ote one(s li!e to sa%ing the li%es o! thousands o! mothers and their babies in one o! the most dangerous places in the world is unarguably an unsel!ish heroic act o! lo%e and compassion. 'n her boo&, 7aboring8 $tories o! a New 1or& 9ity :ospital +idwi!e, Nurse#midwi!e ;llen 9ohen e<empli!ies the &ind o! pro!essionalism and care a midwi!e brings to mothers and their babies in the United $tates. Unli&e $heri!a, 9ohen(s midwi!e circumstances and her remuneration are di!!erent but in other ways ali&e. The 0,400 babies she deli%ered and cared !or in the United $tates as in )igawa are not o! middle#class healthy women but o! poor and wor&ing#class women who o!ten li%e under %ery di!!icult !inancial, physical and mental health circumstances. The situations !acing these midwi%es, mothers and babies are, more o!ten than not, precarious, and the prenatal and natal care gi%en in hospitals, clinics, or in some other en%ironment is !ar !rom ideal. +uch o! the time, we use hero to describe a person in a way other than in its actual meaning. =e ha%e war, sports, !ilm, and entertainment idols, o! whom we o!ten describe as our heroes and

%irtually worship them. =e put world leaders, popes and other religious leaders on pedestals and in one way or another re!er to them as heroes. >ut most o! the time we ne%er ac&nowledge some o! li!e(s genuine heroes. They are the unsung heroes, li&e 9ohen and $heri!a, who per!orm mundane wor& behind the scenes, outside the public eye, who ha%e a choice to do what they do or not, impro%ing the li%es o! others in signi!icant ways, li%ing their li%es without e%er recei%ing the recognition they deser%e. Their wor& in some cases, li&e $heri!a/s wor& someday will, re"uires sel!#sacri!ice, their !ocus, dri%e, and purpose in li!e is only to ser%e the greater good !or humanity. 't(s wor& that can only be done by those who ha%e the capacity to lo%e and be compassionate o! others.