Why Do Midwives Matter?
From my early childhood, the thought of a Midwife was a bit foreign to me. Growing up in the US I believed that babies are born in hospitals, with moms huffing and puffing in their hospital beds, until the doctor says "PUSH", and then magically this little tiny human was born. While this may have been the experience for many expectant parents in the late 80's, today's parents have a variety of options to choose from aimed to have the best possible birth experience.
"But why does all that even matter?" you may ask. The short answer is trust me, IT MATTERS!
My own birth experience was unpleasant and not at all what I expected. I was uneducated, unaware, and had no clue what to expect. I delivered at a Los Angeles Hospital, I had an epidural, I had an episiotemy, and virtually no support. If I could describe my birth experience in one word it would be OBLIVIOUS. Anyway I can go on and on about my sad birth story, but thats not the point of this blog. All I can say is, I wish I did have a midwife to support me not only in my birth, but in the stages of my life before and afrter pregnancy. I wish that our government could see how important their role is.
After photographing many births with and without midwives, I'm here to say that MIDWIVES DO MATTER!
What's the big deal you ask? Read on...
I found some interesting facts that help show why Midwives matter?
Evidence shows that midwives save lives.
Midwifery, when provided by educated, trained, regulated and licensed midwives that are integrated into the health system, increases quality of care and leads to a sustained improvement of maternal and newborn health outcomes.
Yet, there are major gaps in maternal and newborn health outcomes across the world. Annually, approximately 287,000 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Further, 2.7 million babies die every year in their first month of life and a similar number are stillborn. An estimated 56 percent of these deaths could be prevented through strong partnerships with midwives.
If we ensured women had access to professional midwives everywhere in the world, we could save more than 8,000 lives every single day. I don’t think I have ever heard of a better return of investment.
The problem is, we don’t have enough midwives today, and far too many midwives lack proper support, compensation and respect to conduct their jobs. To make things worse, many midwives also face discrimination and harassment in the workplace, many times due to skewed gender norms because they are women. Many midwives also face economic barriers to conducting their lifesaving work, with many midwives reporting low salaries that sometimes are not enough to live on.
In today’s global context, we are seeing too many strikes against women’s and babies’ lives, through the lack of political commitment towards maternal and newborn health, leading to inadequate resourcing of midwifery services.
With the Sustainable Development Goals that have been set to be met by 2030 - the member states of the United Nations have agreed to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births and end preventable deaths of newborns. They have also agreed to end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
Now, these are bold statements that require action. To achieve those goals we need more midwives. We also need to ensure that all women are respected and free. We need to listen to their voices and acknowledge them.
There should be no question about it ― having access to a midwife should be the norm. And we should all care to make it so.
May 5th is the International Day of the Midwife, with this year’s theme being Midwives, Mothers and Families: Partners for Life. Learn more through the International Confederation of Midwives and their partners and support them in their work to strengthen the midwifery workforce and improve the health and rights of women and children worldwide.
*The above images are of the lovely Melissa Gordon Magnus CPM, LDM - Rose City Midwifery doing what she does best!