Follow the Data: Invest in Midwives

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Each year on 5 May we reflect on and celebrate the extraordinary contribution midwives make to the health and wellbeing of women, babies and families, during one of the most important events of our lives - being born.

International Day of the Midwife 2021

The theme of this year’s International Day of the Midwife is ‘Follow the Data: Invest in Midwives’ which is inspired by evidence from robust research that has shown that, over the next decade, the lives of millions of women and babies worldwide would be saved if the world simply had more midwives.

In under-resourced countries in particular, midwives are the pivotal health-worker in their communities. Midwives are often the only educated woman in their community and often the only voice speaking up for the rights of women. They are also extremely poorly paid, poorly resourced and overworked. But most importantly there are millions of women who have no access to a midwife at all.

In Australia our focus is also on ‘Follow the Data: Invest in Midwives’ inspired by the research evidence that has clearly shown that if:

  • every woman in this country had her own, known midwife,
  • to provide her care throughout pregnancy,
  • during the birth of her baby and,
  • in the early postnatal time, while learning to breastfeed her new baby

the rate of pregnancy loss through miscarriage, still birth and premature births would be reduced by up to 24 per cent; and breastfeeding for at least the first four months of the baby’s life would be well supported so the baby’s physical and mental development would be optimised.

If midwife continuity of care - or having a known midwife - was a pill, every woman would be prescribed it throughout pregnancy to make certain these positive outcomes were achieved. Currently less than 5 per cent of women can access this model of care.

So, we are joining our voices and increasing our efforts on this International Day of the Midwife – to ask our leaders, internationally and in Australia, to pay attention.

‘Follow the Data: Invest in Midwives’. Current and future generations of Australians will thank you for it.

Professor Maralyn Foureur, School of Nursing and Midwifery

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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.