On May 5th each year, midwives, women, girls, partners and supporters of midwives and midwifery globally come together to celebrate the International Day of the Midwife with their own activities, driven by one strong collective voice.
Midwives are crucial to reducing maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. They make a huge contribution to improving sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn health outcomes.
The World Health Organization (WHO), several United Nations agencies and other international bodies have identified midwives as the key in reducing maternal and newborn deaths and disabilities globally.
The drive for personalised care
The Better Births report on the national maternity review included statements on personalisation and choice recommending personalised care, centred on the woman, her baby and her family, based around their needs and their decisions, where they have genuine choice, informed by unbiased information.
Every woman should develop a personalised care plan, with their midwife and other health professionals, which sets out her decision about her care reflecting her wider health needs.
The drive for enhanced personalisation and choice is married with the National Maternity Ambition which aims to reduce the rate of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths, and brain injuries occurring during or soon after birth by 50% by 2025.
Women will be much more able to exercise this choice if they are fit for and fit during pregnancy. PHE leads the prevention workstream of the Maternity Transformation programme, implementing the recommendations of Better Births.
Midwives as defenders of women’s rights actively support women to make health and lifestyle choices, empowering them with information and supporting their access to services to improve their own health and that of their baby.
From pre-conception care and throughout the maternity period midwives are able to positively influence the health of the women they care for, this contributes to improved outcomes and makes real choice possible for more women.
Embedding a holistic approach to prevention to improve women’s health before and during pregnancy will:
- give every child the best start in life
- reduce health inequalities
- improve choice and personalisation
- achieve safer outcomes for all mothers and babies
Health inequalities have a significant impact on women’s opportunities for choice and on risks to a safe outcome of pregnancy. Supporting women to be healthy when they become pregnant is an important precursor to ensuring they are healthy during pregnancy.
PHE is providing support to local maternity systems to promote a whole systems, holistic approach to prevention both to build healthy places to have and raise families, and through supporting women and their partners. This includes:
- providing early, universal access to information and support for health issues such as smoking, obesity and poor mental health
- embedding opportunistic enquiry on the need for contraception and pre-conception care
- improving access to immunisations recommended in pregnancy
- upskilling the workforce to give public health advice, offer or refer to interventions
So please join us in celebrating the actions of midwives every day to preserve safety, promote choice and defend the rights of women.