International midwives day

As death is a part of life, childbirth is an important part of life. It is important to have a skilled health professional during childbirth. This can save the life of a woman and her child. But, in many parts of the world and within many countries, the presence of a health worker during childbirth is often a luxury. If a woman is poor, she is even more likely to deliver without support, putting herself and child at risk.

Every year, some 300,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth and almost three million babies do not survive their first four weeks of life, yet a majority of these deaths could have been averted by trained midwives. The United Nations today as it marks the International Day of the Midwife called for strengthened skills and investments in midwifery.

“Midwives are our heroes and the backbone of sexual and reproductive health. Let us support them and the women and newborns at the heart of their care,” said Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

“Well-trained and supported midwives working in communities are uniquely positioned to provide the compassionate, respectful and culturally sensitive care a woman needs during pregnancy and childbirth,” Mr. Osotimehin explained.

“Midwifery is equally important for newborns during the critical first month of life, and is a significant contribution to sexual and reproductive health in general,” he added.

The International Day of the Midwife is observed around the world on 5 May. This year’s theme is Women and Newborns: The Heart of Midwifery. According to, the word ‘midwife’ means ‘with woman’.

What does a midwife do and what are their responsibilities? Midwives are specialists in normal pregnancy and birth, and their role is to look after a pregnant woman and her baby throughout a phase of antenatal care, during labour and birth, and for up to 28 days after the baby has been born.

Author: Ope Adedeji