How Expanding the Role of Midwives in U.S. Health Care Could Help Address the Maternal Health Crisis
A new issue brief from The Commonwealth Fund discusses how the expansion of midwifery care could help decrease perinatal health disparities in the United States. Midwives are licensed healthcare providers who offer a wide range of essential reproductive and sexual healthcare services, from birth and newborn care to Pap tests and contraceptive care. Research consistently demonstrates that when midwives play a central role in the provision of maternal care, patients are more satisfied, clinical outcomes for parents and infants improve, and costs decrease. Use of midwives is also associated with fewer cesarean sections, lower preterm birth rates, lower episiotomy rates, higher breastfeeding rates, and a greater sense of respect and autonomy for the patient. The brief outlines policy recommendations to incorporate midwives in all U.S. maternity care systems to ease the healthcare workforce shortage.