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6 roles that midwives can play in ending preventable stillbirths

Midwifery is the health profession that deals with pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period (including care of the newborn). Midwives are also equipped to give sexual and reproductive health advice to women and girls throughout their lives.


A midwife is a healthcare professional who provides an array of services to women including gynecological examinations, contraceptive counseling, prescriptions, labour and delivery care. During labour, delivery and after birth care is a specialty that makes midwives unique.


The birth of an infant that has died in the womb (after having survived through at least the first 28 weeks of pregnancy, earlier instances being regarded as miscarriage)

6 roles midwives can play in ending preventable stillbirths

1. Education and care

Midwives should monitor the physical, psychological and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle. Providing the mother with individualised education, counseling, prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery and postpartum support.

2. Understanding body and emergency signs

Midwives can help an expectant mother understand her body and know the emergency signs to look out for such as engagement, mucus discharge, or ‘show’. Midwives can also teach mothers about the signs of labour such as when her water starts to break, contractions and when to call the hospital.

3. Importance of adequate nutrition

Through antenatal care, midwives should teach expectant mothers about the importance of adequate nutrition, medication and routine checks.

They should learn the importance of eating healthy to reduce the incidence of disease and to promote general health of the mother and baby. In pregnancy, it is even more important to eat healthy as at that time, you are eating for two. The growing baby is vulnerable to toxins, and he or she needs all the nutrients to grow into a strong and healthy child.

4. Assisted vaginal birth/C-section

Preventable care such as fetal monitoring and support for assisted vaginal birth/C-section should be available during labour.

In an assisted vaginal delivery, the healthcare practitioner and midwife use either a vacuum device or forceps to help the baby out of the birth canal. The practitioner may recommend this if the mother has been pushing for a long time and is completely worn out, or if the baby is nearly out and his heart rate is weak.

5. Involving EmONC trained personnel

Emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC) is a group of medical interventions to treat life-threatening complications during pregnancy and childbirth. These services can save the lives of an estimated 280,000 women and 3 million newborns who die annually during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period with preventable conditions. Millions of disabling conditions can also be prevented through timely and effective EmONC.

EmONC trained midwives should always be available during delivery to reduce the amount of stillbirths.

6. Emergency referrals

Prompt decision-making such as quick referrals for emergencies is necessary during intrapartum care.

Intrapartum care in obstetrics is the period from the onset of labour to the end of the third stage of labour.

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