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Midwives are more important now than ever – let’s help them help us

13th May 2020

By Simon Cooke, Marie Stopes International and Sylvia Hamata, International Confederation of Midwives -  SheDecides Champions

This article was originally featured in Reuters. Read the full article here.




Delivering a baby is just one part of being a midwife. This International Day of the Midwife, we want to highlight the least talked about aspect of midwifery: providing safe abortion and post-abortion care.

The meaning of midwife is ‘with woman’. By providing information and services, midwives are essential in enabling women to exercise their reproductive and sexual rights and choices. In some cases, this will mean assisting a woman with the birth of their first child. In others, it will mean supporting a woman to end a pregnancy or providing a woman with life-saving post-abortion care following an unsafe abortion.

Under COVID-19, the role midwives play is more important than ever. With lockdowns forcing women to stay home, or isolated in remote communities, many are struggling to reach essential contraceptive, safe abortion and post-abortion care services. Consequently, it’s projected that unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and maternal mortalities will rise.

Marie Stopes International estimates that up to 9.5 million women risk losing access to our services alone, resulting in up to 3 million unintended pregnancies, 2.7 million unsafe abortions and 11,000 pregnancy-related deaths. That’s unless services can continue and midwives, who are often best placed to reach women in their homes, or in rural regions where doctor’s clinics are scarce, have a crucial role to play.

Throughout this pandemic, we’ve heard from midwives around the world who are showing bravery and resilience in the face of challenges caused by COVID-19.

Vivian, who works as a Marie Stopes International midwife in Kumasi, Ghana, relayed that her centre has seen a rise in unintended pregnancies, with women unable to travel to her clinic during lockdown. One client shared with Vivian: “I had to lie and pretend that I was seriously ill before (security personnel) would allow me to come for your services.”

With women unable to access safe abortion and contraception services, some are taking matters into their own hands. Since the lockdown began, Vivian has delivered life-saving post-abortion care to a woman who had resorted to an unsafe abortion at home. In the face of these challenges, midwives like Vivian are showing inspiring perseverance to adapt to the evolving crisis. From hand and respiratory hygiene, to social distancing with clients and the use of personal protective equipment, midwives are determined to keep services open, safely.

Continue reading here.