This paper analyses the transformations of traditional midwife’s in a region of Thailand where 70% of the local population is Muslim. Satun Muslims speak mainly Thai but 10% of them are bilingual Malay. The Malay-speaking midwives are called bidan kampong (village’s midwife) and live in rural areas.
The role of these traditional practitioners has been modified by the introduction of modern medical facilities, especially the government hospital. Over the years, the Public Health Office has organised special courses to train these women in biomedical techniques and hygienic procedures, providing them with a license, necessary to operate on the territory.
Nowadays the bidan kampong is still active but her expertise has moved from the factual delivery to the ritual moments concerning both mother and child, during the pregnancy and after the birth. The bidan has become part of the modern medical system but at the same time her functions have been controlled and limited favouring instead the modern-trained nurses and doctors. The bidan can still intervene in case of delivery in state of emergency.
The complexities of these changes are mirrored in their life stories, in which the ‘mission’ of bidan was embedded in the social, economic life of the village.