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ICM Toronto

ICM Toronto

Being a first year student midwife has lead to so many wonderful experiences, however attending the ICM 31st Triennial Congress in Toronto was one I never could have imagined. After being selected to go to Congress with the RCM, I was both excited and nervous. After all, I was only a first year student and worried I would be out of my depth. 

When I arrived in Toronto I was blown away by the bustling city and skyscrapers. Having arrived early I was able to go see the eighth wonder of the world, the Niagara Falls which were dramatic and stunning. 

Arriving at the Metro Conference Centre was a little overwhelming, the sheer size of the venue and the sea of over 4,200 midwives made for an incredible atmosphere. The five-day event commenced with the opening ceremony. For me, this was like the midwifery equivalent of the Olympics opening ceremony. Many of the UK delegates sat together, some familiar faces and others I would get to know throughout the course of the event. We all had our RCM union jack flags and there was a great sense of excitement. The opening ceremony consisted of talks from ICM President Frances Day Stirk, Abelone Melesse and the Ontario Regional Chief, as well as a parade of flags from each nation. Lesley Page represented the UK, carrying the union jack onto the main stage. Seeing flags from each nation being carried by midwifery leaders from around the world and then uniting on stage, filled me with pride for the profession. There were also acts from the North, East, South and Western doors, displaying regional talent such as singing, dancing and music. I was moved by the speakers inspiring words and the feeling of being amongst thousands of midwives who all shared the same passion and goals. Many spoke of the ‘sisterhood’ between midwives which I could not fully appreciate until I attended Congress. 

Afterwards, I started meeting midwives from around the world and explored the exhibition hall. There were stands for different national and international associations as well as companies and birth artwork and crafts. It was wonderful to finally see the artwork of Amanda Greavette in person and couldn’t resist buying a print to take home and remind me of my time at the Congress. 

On the second day I attended sessions on reduced fetal movements and perineal trauma. It was interesting to hear the research behind current UK practices but also research which suggested ways in which we can improve practice. After this, it was the RCM’s reception. It was lovely to see the UK delegates come together but also to meet international colleagues. Much like the rest of the time at congress, everybody spoke to each other regardless of whether they knew each other as we all had a common interest. I have gained so much from listening to some of the most knowledgeable and influential midwives in the world. Hearing their views, ideas and research has inspired me to hopefully one day bring about positive changes within midwifery too. 

Throughout the rest of congress, I attended more sessions and continued to network. By the end my head felt full of new information. I came away from congress feeling even more passionate than I did when I had arrived. I loved finding out about midwifery in other countries and realising that ultimately, despite each country having its own challenges, all

midwives want the same thing; for all women to be cared for by a midwife and receive the highest quality care while supporting their choices. It is through events such as this which enable us to improve the care we provide and remember that ultimately, we are ‘with woman’. Thank you to the RCM who made this trip possible, it has been a privilege. I look forward to the 32nd Triennial Congress in 2020, where I hope to be a newly-qualified midwife.