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New Profession among Labor Assistants – Monitrice

A short while ago we discovered something that is no news for the rest of the world. How could we have missed that? :) After all, among other things, we shall serve You in selecting world news concerning midwifery and motherhood!

Childbirth and mothership

Photo from The Journal of Perinatal Education Online: Monitrice. Blanch Cohen, a physiotherapist, smiles while Doctor Lamaze is holding a newborn baby in a Paris clinic.

Well, our dear readers, have you heard about a new job among labor assistants – a monitrice?

Unfortunately, there is still no comprehensive article about monitrice in Wikipedia, however you can find the articles about this profession on different doulas’, mothers’ and midwifery websites. A mini-article on that subject has already appeared in Russian Wikipedia and on the special site of one of the experts of our project – Kateryna Perkhova, a respected organizer of international events in this field in Russia.
Dear Kateryna, we kindly thank you for your invaluable creative and spiritual contribution!

Monitrice (from French: she that carefully monitors) or PLA (Professional Labor Assistant) provides women the same support as doula does, but she also possesses enough qualification to monitor the condition of the mother and her child in labor on an equal basis with medical specialists. A monitrice assists a midwife, sees the woman for postpartum care, assists with the initiation of breastfeeding and teaches newborn care to the parents. She is eligible to monitor the baby’s heart tones, has the necessary medical skills of first aid and neonatal resuscitation. Carefully monitoring the vitals of the mother and her baby, a monitrice advises whether a woman may stay home for a while or it is time to go to the hospital.

The history of the profession traces its roots to the USA of the fifties-sixties of the 20-th century, when Fernand Lamaze, a French obstetrician (the author of the Lamaze technique), well known among those, who is interested in natural birth, introduced this term. Famous Madame Blanch Cohen was one of the pioneers of this profession. Marjorie Karmel, a woman, who delivered her baby with Madame Blanch Cohen, even wrote a book about her. Here you can find more details about the history of monitrice profession and here you can look through the Model Monitrice Client Agreement.

“Actually, any person older than 12 years old must be able to help a laboring woman in case of an emergency and to perform CPR as well! We live in an unstable world, where apart from natural disasters a technogenic disaster can happen anytime... Shall we just stand aside and watch a person dying without trying to save the life or help a woman to deliver?” (Gail Heart, an American home midwife).

In some Moscow parental centers, there have been training programs for doulas and monitrices since 2000. We are very pleased with the possibility that the profession of a monitrice may also become popular in the former Soviet republics on the back of the flourishing of the profession of a doula, as it happened in the USA thanks to the enthusiasts of hospital births humanization.

“However, your example helps us to instill confidence in ourselves. We follow our calling without seeking any recognition in the future. If we are lucky enough, we will see the fruits of our labors. However, we may share the same destiny as Doctor Lamaze, – the significance of our contribution will not be appreciated until after our deaths, not to take anything away from his merits. Nevertheless, following your example, we will enter the next millennium acknowledging the importance of your profession afresh.” (The passage from the article Leaving a Lamaze Legacy (Sharron S Humenick, RN, PhD, LCCE, FACCE, FAAN, 1999 A Lamaze International Publication)

We personally are willing to facilitate the revival of midwifery traditions in Slavic countries, but we work for the benefit of all kinds of specialties among labor assistants and take joy in their success! May God help us!


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