May 5th is International Day of the Midwife, a day recognized globally to thank and appreciate all that midwives around the world do to help families have safe and healthy births. The International Day of the Midwife is sponsored by the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), whose mission is "to strengthen Midwives Associations and to advance the profession of midwifery globally by promoting autonomous midwives as the most appropriate caregivers for childbearing women and in keeping birth normal, in order to enhance the reproductive health of women, their newborns and their families." The ICM is made up of 132 Midwives Associations, 113 countries, 500,000 midwives. This year, the theme of the International Day of the Midwife is "Midwives leading the way with quality care."
According to the ICM, "over 340,000 women and over 3 million infants around the world die each year from preventable complications from pregnancy and childbirth. The majority of these deaths would be prevented if there were enough qualified and adequately resourced midwives available around the world. Midwives are skilled to provide up to 87% of childbirth-related services, making them the ideal health professional to support women through the maternity continuum of care. The World Health Organisation, several United Nations agencies and other international bodies have identified midwives as the key in reducing maternal and newborn deaths and disabilities globally. With midwives yielding a sixteen-fold return on investment, the ripple effect of improved health outcomes is significant. Midwives save lives."
The ICM is the umbrella organization for midwifery organizations all around the world, who join to bring together their voices and their resources to support midwifery care on an international level. Many places in the world, including the United States, have (or are soon to be facing) a shortage of maternity care providers. In the US, rural maternity clinics are closing at record rates and families are needing to drive several hours for their prenatal care. Globally, whole regions are lacking in any reproductive health facilities, for pregnancy prevention or pregnancy care. Midwives are often the appropriate care provider for healthy, low-risk people who are pregnant. In some places, they are the only provider for all pregnant people, regardless of their risk factors.
As a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, I teach families who are being seen by both physicians and midwives. Having this mix in my classes means they have plenty to talk about and compare with each other during class time. I love using many resources produced by a variety of midwifery organizations. They are always, attractive, evidence-based and easy for students to understand. Some of my favorites are:
BirthTools.org - produced by the American College of Nurse-Midwives. They have a lot of professional resources along with wonderful patient education materials in their toolboxes. I rely on this a lot.
Association of Ontario Midwives - a great set of patient information tools out of Ontario, Canada.
I hope you will join me in reaching out to the midwives in your life and letting them know how much you appreciate them and their evidence-based care. Wish them a happy International Day of the Midwife and thank them for all they do. How do you plan to celebrate International Day of the Midwife? Will you share with your students and clients? Let us know in the comments section.