5 facts about midwifery

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Oulimata lives in Khossanto, a remote village in the southeastern corner of Senegal, 45 miles from the nearest hospital. She is the only midwife in busiest maternity in the region. She struggles to help the women she cares for because of her limited resources. She has only one delivery table and no electricity. When a woman gives birth, she holds a flashlight and delivers the baby at the same time. And when multiple women come, which is common, she must use her desk as a second delivery table. The floor is her third option.

The World Health Organization (WHO) highlights a few facts about midwifery that we feel are crucial considerations to the work we do.

1. Competent midwives decrease the risk of dying during childbirth.
About 1000 women and almost 10 000 newborns die every day due to largely preventable complications during pregnancy, childbirth and the immediate postnatal period. In addition, every year, nearly 3 million babies are stillborn. Many of these lives could be saved if every birth were attended by a midwife.


2. More than one third of all births take place without a midwife or other skilled health staff.
Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG 5) aims to improve maternal health. More midwives need to be trained to achieve the MDG 5 target to increase the number of births attended by skilled health personnel to 95% by 2015.


3. Midwives also provide essential care after birth.
After childbirth, midwives support mothers to breastfeed and to prevent mother-to-child-transmission of HIV. They check the health of the newborn and also counsel the mother on newborn care, birth spacing and family planning.


4.Only one in three rural women in developing areas receive necessary care.
During pregnancy and childbirth, women in rural areas, remote districts and smaller health facilities in particular suffer from a lack of midwives and health personnel with midwifery skills serving their communities. Therefore, countries need to improve distribution and retention of midwives, especially in poor and remote areas.


5. Midwives need regular refresher training and support.
They need training to acquire and maintain competencies to provide high quality care to women and newborns. In addition to providing opportunities for midwives to update their skills, governments need to adopt policies that allow midwives to use their full knowledge and expertise in communities, health centres and hospitals.

Please help us support dedicated midwives like Oulimata by making a donation.

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