Midwives are an overlooked climate solution

What is holding the midwife? from making a bigger dent in the fight against climate change? For starters, there aren’t enough of them. The United Nations reports that there is a shortage of about 900,000 midwives worldwide. This shortfall extends to the United States, where maternal mortality is worse so to other high-income countries where midwives have a central role in providing care.

Especially in the US, many related to insurance barriers between a patient wanting to work with a midwife or doula and doing so. “It is disturbing from an equity standpoint that Blacks, Indigenous peoples and Latinos often live in states with more barriers to accessing midwives,” said Saraswathi Vedam, principal investigator at the Birthplace Laboratory and professor of midwifery at the University of British Columbia. by Vedam research demonstrate that the integration of midwives into the US health care system positively affects health outcomes and equity.

There is a cross-cutting relationship between these barriers to access to midwives and the racist campaign to undermine the midwifery system in favor of midwifery. medicalization give birth and increase of white male obstetricians and gynecologists. In the early 1900s, these doctors target midwives, who are often black, by criminalization and discredit their work. A famous early obstetrician, Joseph DeLee, Is called midwives are a “relic of barbarism.” This history underlies why many Americans think midwifery is unsafe or don’t even think about it at all. “I have been a midwife for 37 years and I am still amazed how little the average person knows about professional midwifery and what it can bring,” says Vedam.

Connecting patients with midwives who can provide climate-focused care—with people who will ask their patients if they have air conditioning, whether they have a plan if the home flood, and whether they know how to apply for electricity subsidies—requiring removal of the stains that underlie and impede structural barriers.

Workforce support in itself is also key: Wheeler and her colleagues at National cooperation on reproductive equality present ask midwives, birth attendants and other maternal care workers about what they have done to address climate impacts and what they would like to do more of. The idea is that these results could help develop collaborative training between midwives and other professionals, such as epidemiologists and climate scientists. She sees the work as building solidarity, noting that “the climate crisis is teaching us that we need to have intersectional approaches to health.” This kind of cooperation has happened before, albeit through piecemeal efforts. For example, in 2018, researchers organization a training course on heat exposure and maternal health in the community room of the El Paso, Texas birth center. Following the pilot project, participating doulas and midwives reported that they talked to clients more often about heat risks.

But there is room for growth. Davies also argues that there is a need to make “sustainability knowledge a core component of all midwifery curricula”—a systematization that goes beyond midwifery’s deep connection to fertility. lasting. Her views and her work on the subject have influenced the midwifery industry in her home country, New Zealand. Alison Swirlexecutive director of the New Zealand College of Midwives, says midwifery work and sustainability of Davies research is a catalyst for the profession, inspiring them to seriously consider serving as a climate solution.

Have a responsibility to “educate and lead midwives to be climate change champions in their work, think and act critically in how they use resources in practice and see consider their role in holding governments, hospitals and politicians accountable,” Eddy said. She puts this belief into reality: The school has donate to recognize the special needs of pregnant women and infants in the New Zealand Climate Change (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill.

In the United States, there is some movement towards investing in midwives because of their connection to improving health outcomes: In June, the Biden administration release a “blueprint” to tackle the maternal health crisis includes a promise to work with states to expand access to midwives and midwives. Especially for women vulnerable For the impacts of climate change, a similar effort is needed to reflect their connection to climate-related care.

Too much talk about the climate crisis has to do with what we need to give up. But extended care by midwives is a rare example of what we can achieve.


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