Maternity Department Marks International Day of the Midwife

Midwives from the maternity unit at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital will join a worldwide campaign marking International Day of the Midwife for the first time this year. The global theme, “Midwives changing the world one family at a time” reflects the role midwives play in providing care that saves the lives of mothers and babies. Celebrated on 5 May, hospital midwives will participate by inviting the public to view a lobby display and information table running throughout next week. Midwives will also be available in the hospital lobby on 5 May from 10:00am to 12:00pm to share information and answer questions.

Christine Virgil, Clinical Director for Maternal Child Services at Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB), says: “Hospital midwives provide supportive skilled care to 650 pregnant women each year before, during and following the birth of their babies. We also attend about 60 preterm births and perform over 1163 fetal heart surveillance tests each year. The hospital employs 23 registered nurses who hold midwife certifications. There are also two midwives who are dual-trained in neonatal care and work in the Special Care Baby Unit.”

While health statistics for pregnant woman and newborns in our community are very positive, the picture is somewhat bleak in other parts of the world. Over 300,000 women and three million infants in other countries die annually from preventable complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The World Health Organization advises that midwives are key to achieving global reductions in maternal and newborn deaths and disabilities. Yet currently, there is a worldwide shortage of trained midwives and it is estimated another 350,000 midwives are needed.

Janet Wheelan, BHB Clinical Manager for Maternity and the Special Care Baby Unit, says: “Because women in Bermuda have access to quality healthcare provided by skilled professionals, last year there were no maternal or neonatal deaths. In addition, our overall prematurity rate is around 8%, indicating women in Bermuda receive a high standard of prenatal care. Educating expectant parents about labour and birth greatly contributes to a safe and positive experience. We offer classes that prepare pregnant women and their partners for the birthing process and for antenatal/postnatal care. We make every effort to accommodate an expectant couple’s birth plan, while also assuring safe, quality care for both the mother and baby. Midwife support during labour can reduce the need for pain medications and other medical interventions. After women give birth, we continue to provide assistance with newborn care and help mothers with their chosen method of feeding.”

For more information about the hospital’s prenatal birthing classes, which run for four weeks, contact 239-1682.

Global facts about maternal care:
• About 40 million women a year give birth without access to any care.
• Midwives prevent many cases of infection through education, including neonatal sepsis, which kills 521,000 newborns a year worldwide.
• Midwives provide both physical and emotional support to women, promoting a positive birthing experience.
• Nearly two thirds of maternal deaths worldwide could be averted with universal access to an educated, regulated midwifery workforce with access to adequate supplies.
• In midwife-led care, women experience less preterm births, less assisted deliveries and greater satisfaction with care.
• Midwives educate families on how to delay, space or limit pregnancies and provide family planning services to achieve the healthiest outcomes for women, newborns, infants, and children. This healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies leads to better outcomes for both mother and baby.
• If every childbearing woman received care with a well-educated, adequately resourced midwife, most of maternal and newborn deaths could be prevented.

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