Globally, we can now celebrate the fact that maternal, neonatal and child mortality rates are at their lowest levels in history. The Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are now pushing the agenda forward into 2030, and we hope to see more gains in this area of health. An adequate midwifery workforce working within a supportive health system can support women and girls to prevent unwanted pregnancies, provide assistance throughout pregnancy and childbirth and save the lives of babies born too early.
Today, there is still a lack of adequately educated midwives to support the health of women and infants. Only 22% of countries have potentially enough adequately educated midwives to meet the basic needs of women and newborns; 78% are facing serious shortages in midwifery that will result in unnecessary deaths of women and babies. There are many strategies globally that aim to address these challenges, in line with the work that the Centre for Maternal and Newborn Health is undertaking. This work is linked directly to the Global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for health, which aims to ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
CMNH is working across many areas of maternal and newborn health to improve access to and quality of care that women, their newborns and families receive before, during and after pregnancy. Whilst maintaining a strong focus on reducing preventable deaths, CMNH is expanding its portfolio to include research and programmes that will improve the health of mothers and babies, in line with the new international strategy that seeks to ensure mothers and babies ‘survive and thrive’.
In the lead up to the International Day of the Midwife (5th May), the CMNH team has published a series of blogs on the importance and role of midwives in maternal health, and hosted a “Muffins for Midwives event” which raised enough money to train a midwife for 3 months, hold 2 community Maternal Health promotion events or facilitate 15 safe births! Thank you to all who were involved. Developing and delivering quality maternal health is truly a team effort and we want to thank the entire team within CMNH and our UK volunteers who strive to deliver quality research and training so that we achieve our vision to “End preventable maternal deaths, still births and early neonatal deaths and improve the health of mothers and babies in low and middle income countries”.
Today we celebrate midwives who are at the heart of maternal health care. Below is a series of quotes about why people became midwives and how high-quality midwifery can make women feel during the time of birth.
“Birth is at the heart of every culture, every population around the world, and as a midwife, I have a unique experience of these intimate and formative times in a woman’s life. The care that a woman has in her pregnancy, birth and after her baby is born is intrinsic to how her and her family will function. Being a part of this care as a midwife is an honour, and I’m grateful to midwives all around the world, as they are essential with their life-saving skills support and protection of our mums and babies.”
“I became a midwife for women. Midwifery provides a powerful opportunity to be directly involved in women's transition into mothering. It also gives me the opportunity to participate on a wider stage around women's health. I care about the way in which society supports women. Mothering is important for society and this is at the heart of my work as a midwife.”
Pregnant woman, South Africa
“The staff is good and friendly-they are able to talk and reassure you, and laugh. There were three midwives sitting around my bed. They were talking to me. Yes, they were a companion to me.”
Midwife, South Africa
“We need to inform them women that in everything we do, we need to involve them. In the care, they need to be part of everything; we do because to me it’s special.”
Childbirth is indeed special and CMNH is striving to ensure that women not only survive it, but thrive and transform afterwards.