Without Midwives More Pregnant Women Will Die

Jacqueline Burt Cote
5

midwife newborn momOh, the irony! At a time when skyrocketing malpractice insurance premiums are making it more and more difficult for midwives to practice at all, the U.N. releases a report stating that more investment in midwifery worldwide could save the lives of millions of infants and hundreds of thousands of women who die each year from lack of access to adequate healthcare during labor and delivery. You don't say, U.N.?

Released on Monday, this report was actually the U.N.'s first study on midwives, so I'm sure they were somewhat startled to find that 358,000 women and 3.6 million babies die annually from mostly preventable childbirth complications (an additional 3 million infants per year are stillborn).

They were probably even more shocked to find that midwives are useful for more than just delivering babies -- they can provide contraceptive counseling and services, too. And you know what they say about an ounce of prevention! Of course, that's just common sense -- except it isn't, or hasn't been, to the powers that be in this country or any other, apparently.

So let me get this straight: When it profits governments/healthcare systems to deem the practice of midwifery prohibitively expensive, that's what they do. When, on the other hand, it profits the governments/healthcare systems to send midwives off to work their magic in places where doctors and nurses are in short supply, that's what they do. What a very consistent and humane way for world leaders to make life-or-death decisions! At least now midwives here in America can stop worrying about how they'll continue to do the life-saving work they've been trained to do. According to the U.N., a whopping 38 countries are in desperate need of more midwives. Clearly several third-world countries would welcome them with open arms!

I'm trying not to be cynical here (actually, that's a lie, I'm not bothering to try at all), but if there was ever proof that women and children, especially minority women and children, are considered expendable by the predominately male people in charge of our planet, well, this is it. As if you really needed more proof.

Do you think it should be easier for midwives to practice in this country?

 

Image via Save the Children UK/Flickr

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