Study Says Hire More Midwives

A New Study Claims Hiring More Midwives Could Reduce Childbirth Deaths


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

A new study published in the Lancet journal claims that the number of women dying during childbirth could be cut in half if the number of midwives employed across the globe was increased.

Scientists claimed that women's health is being threatened by the "over-medicalisation" of pregnancy, leading to unnecessary caesarean sections that can cause infections and mental health problems due to body image issues.

According to the study, which was led by the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, there are 139 million births per year around the world, but almost 300,000 women die during pregnancy in the same time period.

Additionally, 2.6 million women suffer stillbirths and 2.9 million infants die during the first month of their life.

While many of these babies are born into poor conditions in less economically developed countries in Africa and Asia, deaths during pregnancy are an issue globally - including in the UK.

The biggest issue, according to the study's authors, is that not enough midwives are being hired in maternity wards in hospitals across all countries.

An excerpt of the paper read: "Routine use of unnecessary interventions, including caesarean sections, limited mobility in labour, and episiotomy can have a lasting effect on mothers' and infants' health and wellbeing."

Professor Caroline Gomer, of the Faculty of Health at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, said: "Both underuse and overuse of medical interventions in pregnancy contribute to short and long-term illness for an estimated 20 million childbearing women."

The UK's midwifery strategy is driven by the Midwifery 2020 document, which was released in 2008 and aimed to build the NHS's staff base up substantially, while implementing better training, as well as a more positive working culture.

However, there have been concerns this has been watered down in recent years and that midwives are being ignored by some doctors who prefer medical interventions during pregnancy - although scientific evidence of this is lacking.

Expert Opinion
Injuries caused by complications at birth can be devastating and have a life-changing impact, not just for the baby but for the mother, and the rest of the family too.

“Any research which suggests it can reduce the number of injuries during childbirth should at least be considered by medical professionals.

“There have been changes to maternity units across the country with closures of some centres and a consolidation of resources in other areas. What is important is that women that are pregnant have access to the best possible medical facilities as quickly as possible to maximise the chances of a healthy birth.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner