Midwives are true partners and advocates for women. From family planning counselling to providing care to women through pregnancy, labour, childbirth and early newborn care, midwives play a key role in educating and empowering women to lead healthy lives. Owing to the vital work they do, they often build strong, trusting relationships with families and communities that go beyond the traditional care.
On this International Day of the Midwives, and amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that the critical contribution midwives are making in responding to this global health emergency and being a resilient part of the overall healthcare system are acknowledged.
“Even in these troubled times, while families continue to bring new life into the world, midwives are stepping up to ensure that women in their care are taking every necessary precaution to ensure safe pregnancies and childbirths", says Arusa Lakhani, assistant professor at AKU's School of Nursing and Midwifery.
Ms Lakhani, president of the Midwifery Association of Pakistan, MAP, is advocating for midwives to be provided with PPEs, personal protective equipment, as they are equally vulnerable to the virus as other healthcare professionals. “Protecting midwives would mean protecting expectant mothers, newborns and their families from the spread of the virus," she says.
During this time, MAP is supporting midwives by making available current evidence-based information from WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA to ensure safe midwifery practice. Midwives also have access to a discussion forum on Facebook to share their concerns and queries on COVID-19.
Quite often, women are not well aware of the range of care and support midwives can provide. Marina Baig, midwifery faculty and head of the maternal, newborn and child health stream at the School shares that midwifery students are trained to take the lead in meeting the overall healthcare needs of low-risk pregnant women and their newborns. They are also skilled in identifying pregnancy-related complications or risks and work with a team of obstetricians and gynaecologists to ensure appropriate and timely referrals.
“Our midwifery graduates are running birthing centres in different parts of Pakistan where they take a holistic approach to health. They understand that a midwifery-led model can help create personalised, women-centered care plans, enable women to make informed decisions about their pregnancy and birth options as well as address their emotional and psychological wellbeing needs" Baig shares. “On this international day, it indeed is time to think of the millions of women going through pregnancy and giving birth without access to a midwife's skilled care."