This Midwifery Week 2023, we examine how midwifery can help strengthen our communities by providing much-needed equity in the care of mothers and infants. The United States maternal mortality rate has been rising for years. According to the CDC, “the maternal mortality rate for 2021 was 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared with a rate of 23.8 in 2020” (Hoyert, 2023). Among this trend, women of color seem to be most acutely affected.
Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2021
Given the current trajectory of maternal mortality rates, it is clear changes need to be made to the system to start combatting the problem. One tried and true resource is the incorporation of midwives into the healthcare system.
Midwifery is not a new practice; it has been around for centuries, and midwives have been embraced by other countries where maternal mortality rates are lower (CST Editorial Board, 2023). These specialized healthcare professionals can hugely impact our health system if given the opportunity. According to a study by the Lancet Global Health, a substantial increase in midwife-attended deliveries could prevent as much as 41% of maternal deaths annually by 2035 globally (Nove et al. 2020). Imagine the impact of a more robust infrastructure of midwives on American healthcare.
The transition to midwifery care will predictably be embraced by expectant American mothers, as there has already been a growing trend of women opting for nurse midwife deliveries and other women’s healthcare needs (WVU Medicine News, 2023). More women are embracing midwifery because of their “high-touch, low-tech” approach to care, with appointments lasting longer than a typical doctor appointment, allowing more time to get to know the patient (WVU Medicine News, 2023).
The high-touch, low-tech approach could also reduce the number of C-sections in the United States. The procedure is becoming more frequently used but is not always medically necessary; C-sections have become more popular due to cost and time considerations for hospitals. The procedure is quicker than natural births and generates more income for the hospital (CSR Editorial Board, 2023). However, there have been calls to reduce the number of C-sections as they can add further complications post-birth, and the integration of the midwife delivery model could be the first step in reducing non-medically necessary C-sections.
If your practice is considering adding a midwife to your staff, or if you are a midwife in search of medical professional liability insurance, Professional Risk can help secure the unique coverage needed for these providers. Contact us today for additional information.
CST Editorial Board. (September 27, 2023). Embracing midwives could improve maternal health care. Article [Website]. Retrieved from: Embracing midwives could improve maternal health care - Chicago Sun-Times (suntimes.com)
Hoyert, Donna L. (March, 2023). Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2021. Article [Website]. Retrieved from: Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2021 (cdc.gov)
Nove, Andrea, et al. (December 1, 2020). Potential impact of midwives in preventing and reducing maternal and neonatal mortality and stillbirths: a Lives Saved Tool modelling study. Article [Website]. Retrieved from: Potential impact of midwives in preventing and reducing maternal and neonatal mortality and stillbirths: a Lives Saved Tool modelling study (thelancet.com)
WVU Medicine News. (May 12, 2023). More women are opting for nurse midwives, who offer “high-touch, low-tech” care at every stage of life. Article [Website]. Retrieved from: More women are opting for nurse midwives, who offer “high-touch, low-tech” care at every stage of life | School of Medicine | West Virginia University (wvu.edu)