This article presents ethnographic data, collected between 2004 and 2005, about the obstetric service offered by a group of 21 midwives in the city of Melgaço, state of Pará, Brazil. The literature has largely described the work of midwives in Brazil and in many other countries around the world. However, there is a kind of practice, which was analyzed very scarcely up to now. The objective of this article is to discuss precisely the practice called puxação, an abdominal massage performed mainly on pregnant women to alleviate indispositions, inform the position and sex of the fetus, help define the date and place of delivery, socialize women for maternity and put pregnancy into the context of the local patterns of reproduction, family, well being and health. It can be observed that these midwives offer a very suitable and appropriate pre-natal service, well adapted to the specific needs of the women of the town. Even though homebirth has been slowly giving way to hospital birth, this personalized service and practice keeps increasing.
Midwives; Puxação; Homebirth; Pará