The Lancet Medical Journal: Midwifery Matters “More Than Ever”

Britain’s leading medical journal, The Lancet, has published a series of broad-reaching articles on the benefits of the midwifery model of care for obstetrics. One of my favorite parts of the series is the beautiful definition of midwifery it provides:

“Midwifery is defined in the series as: ‘Skilled, knowledgeable and compassionate care for
childbearing women, newborn infants and families across the continuum throughout
pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, birth, postpartum and the early weeks of life. Core characteristics include 1) optimising normal biological, psychological, social and cultural processes of reproduction and early life,  2) timely prevention and management of complications, 3) consultation with and referral to other services, 4) respecting women’s individual circumstances and views, and 5) working in partnership with women to strengthen women’s own capabilities to care for themselves and their families.’

The series notes that midwives are the primary, but not the only, professional group to provide midwifery under this definition. Obstetricians, family doctors, nurses, and labor assistants such as doulas can also provide care in the midwifery model.

Among the powerful quotes from the piece:

  • “These findings support a system-level shift, from maternal and newborn care focused on identification and treatment of pathology, to a system of skilled care for all, with multidisciplinary teamwork and integration across hospital and community settings. Midwifery is pivotal to this approach.”
  • “Midwifery is associated with more efficient use of resources and improved outcomes when provided by midwives who are educated, trained, licensed, and regulated.”
  • “Effective coverage of reproductive, maternal, and newborn health care requires three actions. These are: facilitating women’s use of midwifery services, doing more to meet their needs and expectations, and improving the quality of care they and their newborn infants receive.  Read the Executive Summary of the series here
Posted in Natural Birth, Research & Articles
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