Henderson C. A new voice for midwives. British Journal of Midwifery. 1993; 1:(1)

25 years at the forefront of midwifery research

02 May 2018
Volume 26 · Issue 5

Welcome to a very special anniversary issue of British Journal of Midwifery (BJM). Now celebrating 25 years of publication, this bumper issue of BJM will look back on how far midwifery has come since 1993, and celebrate the writers and readers who have made the journal the authority it is today.

In the very first issue, then-editor Christine Henderson included in her editorial a quotation from Aristotle: ‘a midwife is the most necessary and honourable office, being indeed a helper of nature’ (Henderson, 1993:2). This quote situated contemporary readers in the context of a profession that is perhaps unique in its longevity and tradition, and is testament to the twin constants of birth and skilled birth attendants.

Yet if birth never changed, there would be no need for a journal such as this, and since its inception, BJM has charted the many changes that have shaped the field, from the great strides that have been made to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality, to the profession's transformation into a graduate career. These developments have been reflected and shaped by the exciting and necessary research published in the journal, made possible by the authors (of course), the expertise of the Editorial Board past and present, and the dedicated team of peer reviewers, who take the time to offer detailed advice that maintains BJM's high standards. Just as midwifery has evolved, the journal itself has changed, too: BJM has appeared in numerous guises over the years, and now also has its own conference and awards ceremony, a series of in-demand study days and, of course, a sister journal in African Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health.

Despite the many changes that have occurred in the past quarter of a century, examining early issues of the journal shows that some challenges still persist. Midwifery still wrestles with being seen as a branch of nursing, and in 2018, as in 1993, there are staff and funding shortages, and worries of how midwives are presented in the press. As a result, BJM's work is far from complete, and there is still much within the profession that needs to change. There are also wider societal changes needed that will affect women directly and midwives by extension, from increasing choice around birth, to eradicating extreme violations of women's rights, such female genital mutilation (FGM). One thing that has not changed, however, is BJM's commitment to supporting women's choices for pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood, and to helping midwives deliver the best evidence-based care.

With 25 years of learning and challenging established practice under its belt, and a whole raft of things left to accomplish, one could even say that BJM has become a fully-fledged millennial (although that is a word that will be surely greeted with an eyeroll from anyone it is used to describe). As a member of that generation, and turning 25 myself this year, my memories of 1993 are somewhat limited (seeing as I was in the expert care of the staff at Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield at the time), but I can attest to the fact that 25 years is a point of looking back at what has been achieved and looking forward with excitement at how the status quo can be improved.

There is no doubt that midwives will see even more changes in the next 25 years, but as it has been doing since 1993, BJM will be right their alongside them.