Midwifery care: improving health outcomes for moms and babies

May 9, 2022
black clinician

International Day of the Midwife is celebrated each year on May 5th. Below we discuss how midwifery care can help reduce maternal health disparities.

Throughout the years we’ve covered many important topics related to maternal health in the United States. We’ve highlighted the alarming trends in maternal mortality rates in this country, the health disparities affecting women of color, and have reported on maternity care deserts. As the richest nation on earth, moms are dying at the highest rate in the developed world – and the rate continues to grow. This crisis is most severe for Black moms in the U.S., who are dying at three to four times the rate of their white counterparts.

Every family deserves the best possible start. Yet today, the U.S. remains among the most dangerous developed nations for childbirth—with COVID-19 only elevating the stakes and worsening health disparities. It’s clear that so much still needs to be done to protect the well-being of moms and babies. This includes taking a close look at pregnancy-related health and health care and advocating for solutions, such as increasing access to midwifery care into our health systems.

What is midwifery care?

Midwifery refers to certified nurse–midwives (CNMs), certified midwives (CMs) or midwives whose education and licensure meets the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Global Standards for Midwifery Education.

Midwifery care offers a chance to address health disparities and help improve birth outcomes, especially among women of color. Some studies suggest that midwifery care can lower interventions (like needing a c-section or pain medicine), can lower health care costs, increase patient satisfaction (happiness) and improve care.

A call to action

March of Dimes supports efforts to increase access to midwifery care and midwives and their model of care into maternity care in all states. This can help improve access to maternity care in under-resourced areas, reduce interventions that contribute to risk of maternal mortality and morbidity in pregnancies, lower costs, and potentially improve the health of mothers and babies.

Learn more about our position statement on midwifery care and advocacy work and share it across your networks. Advocacy is a key factor in helping advance March of Dimes’ mission so that every mom and every baby have a healthy start. We won’t stop fighting to level the playing field so that all moms and babies are healthy. To learn more about how you can lend your support visit our action center.