Recognizing the World’s Midwives

By Cynthia Sularz

May 4, 2018

Ever wondered what exactly is a midwife?

A midwife is a person who has successfully completed a midwifery education programme that is based on the International Confederation of Midwives’ Essential Competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice and the framework of the ICM Global Standards for Midwifery Education. But, a midwife is so much more than a legal definition. A midwife is an asset to a mother and her family. They ensure that expecting and new moms receive the necessary support, care, and advice the need during pregnancy, labor and the postpartum period. They are a hand to hold, a mind to consult, and a heart to love and welcome life into the world.

The role of midwives is essential to the overarching health of a family and their community. Approximately 287,000 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Another 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.

Midwives have the potential to save more 8,000 lives every single day.

UN Photo/Kibae Park. A mom and her newborn baby at the Maternal & Child Health Training Institute for medically needy in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Sadly many midwives around the globe lack the proper support to do their jobs as effectively as they would like. That is also coupled with the fact that there are less and fewer midwives in the world. Midwives also suffer discrimination in the workplace due to the fact that they are mostly women. There are also massive economic barriers preventing midwives from pursuing their life-saving work.

Training and education needs to be scaled-up urgently to ensure midwives acquire the skills they need to provide quality care. When they are properly trained, empowered and supported, midwives in the community are the most cost-effective solution” says ICM President and Alliance Board member, Francis Day-Stirk.

May 5th is the International Day of the Midwife. We ask the world to focus on the role of midwives and midwifery. The International Day of the Midwife is an occasion for every individual midwife to think about the many others in the profession, to make new contacts within and outside midwifery, and to widen the knowledge of what midwives do for the world. 

Take Action Challenge:

  • Follow the International Confederation of Midwives @world_midwives  and share your and others stories about how midwives have changed lives around the globe!
  • Take part in Johnson & Johnson’s “Midwives Matter” quiz on twitter (@JNJGlobalHealth). Use the hashtag #MidwivesMatter.
  • Thank a midwife in your life and tell them how much they mean to you.

  Header photo: Midwifery training class in Faizabad Provincial Hospital, Afghanistan, UNFPA

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