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Midwives’ role in childbirth and helping in maternal care

Midwives are the real heroes who are always present in the hospitals to look after the safety of women and their newborns and ensure safe delivery. But midwives’ role in childbirth goes beyond just looking after a pregnant woman in the hospital. Globally, midwives are believed to provide quality care during childbirth. It is said that maternal and newborn deaths could be averted with midwifery care and women. Where midwives were the main caregivers, women were less likely to give birth prematurely or lose their babies prior to 24 weeks of gestation, and required fewer epidurals, fewer assisted births, and fewer episiotomies, and were less likely to get cesarean section births.

When midwives attend mothers during their time in the hospital, they answer the questions of a worried mother, they encourage and provide emotional and physical support to mothers, they advise mothers on the changes of labor, they guide the mother throughout the delivery process. Midwives’ role in childbirth has now developed beyond maternal care, they are now standing with women, speaking out against female genital mutilation, child marriage while promoting sexual reproductive health and rights.

During this time of the pandemic, midwives are on their feet in the maternity wards of both the public sector and private sector to provide care and attention to mother and child by risking their own lives. Midwives are dying in some parts of the world because of a lack of personal protective equipment ( PPE) and an overall lack of support.

Indian Scenario

India has greatly underestimated midwifery given it is striving to improve its maternal health indicators. There is little awareness about midwives as qualified health care professionals in India and the term is still used interchangeably for traditional birth attendants (dais), auxiliary nurse midwife (ANMs), or registered nurse and registered midwife (RNRM). India has not yet accepted midwifery and only offers nursing training to its ANMs and RNRMs for midwifery care.

However,  At the Partners’ Conference, a World Health Organization (WHO)-led global conference for maternal, newborn, and child health, in Delhi in December 2018, India’s government announced Guidelines on Midwifery Services that include recommendations for midwifery training and certification. The midwives’ framework would support overstrained secondary and tertiary care facilities that lack sufficient obstetricians to help meet India’s Sustainable Development Goals for infant and maternal health.

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