Midwifery – A Crucial Solution for Women and Newborn: The Evidence

Session: Supporting Midwives through Education, Mentoring and Partnerships

Presenter: Petra ten Hoope-Bender, Independent Consultant on Women’s Health and Development
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Background: The Series consists of four articles that together provide the evidence base for the Quality Maternal and Newborn Care that women and their families need, the impact of midwifery care on the survival, health and wellbeing of mothers and newborns, the health system conditions needed to effectively strengthen the reach and impact of MNH services through midwives and the pragmatic steps countries can take to make quality midwifery care available to all.

Methodology: The Series was developed by 35 authors from across the globe, including midwives, nurses, doctors, anthropologists, statisticians, researchers, epidemiologists and public health and policy experts. 13 meta-syntheses of women’s views and experiences were reviewed, together with 461 Cochrane reviews of practices, and 7 systematic workforce reviews. Case studies were developed to highlight the consequences of economic development, escalating interventions and inequalities in quality care provision.

Results: The Series developed a Framework for Quality Maternal and Newborn Care (QMNC) that can be used and tested in many contexts, it shows that an small increase in the number of midwives by 10% can already reduce maternal and newborn mortality and stillbirths by 27%. The health systems paper provides insight into the success of care by midwives when supported by a network of facilities, an integrated team and a supportive policy environment and the Global Policy paper highlights the impact of midwifery and midwives on the global SRMNH agenda.

Conclusion: Midwifery provides a particular contribution through preventive and supportive care that provide positive outcomes for both women and infants, is associated with more positive outcomes and cost-savings when provided by midwives and is substantially under-used and under-researched. A system level shift is needed from fragmented maternal and newborn care focussed on pathologies to a system of quality midwifery care for all.