Mexico’s Ministry of Health aims to strengthen professional midwifery through the formation of professionals and the coordination for their involvement in health services. Midwives can provide 90 percent of the reproductive and maternal healthcare needed by expecting mothers but they represent less than 10 percent of the global workforce. Traditional midwives are often the only available assistance for pregnant women in rural communities.
“Professional midwifery is an essential strategy to benefit the conditions for the full exercise of the sexual and reproductive rights, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic that affected the population’s health and increased maternal death both for the disease and the affectation in the continuity and access to maternal health services,” said Karla Berdichevsky, Director, National Center of Gender Equity and Reproductive Health (CNEGSR)
As the number of births increases in Mexico, the need to diversify labor alternatives increased. Midwifery offers another option to women to give birth. However, there are not enough midwives in Mexico. In 2020, there were over 15,000 traditional midwives and only 100 professional midwives. Moreover, there are only 11 formation programs in midwifery across the country, as reported by UNPFA. Strengthening midwifery education is key to improving care and reducing maternal death, according to WHO.
“Professionals with midwifery capabilities are an important factor to achieve universal health coverage and reduce maternal death. This is the reason why we need to strengthen this ancient practice,” said José García, Director, DGCES.
Mexico has a high number of unnecessary cesarean deliveries (C-sections) that put at risk the health and life of women and their newborns. Two in every three C-section procedures are unnecessary. Mexico is one of the 10 countries with the highest rates of C-section procedures in Latin America and the Caribbean. The incorporation of midwives in the health system would decrease the routine medicalization of the natural process of labor, said Jimena Fritz, Epidemiologic Expert, INSP, to NY Times.
A sectorial policy has been established within Mexico’s health system to improve the assistance offered to pregnant women and to include nursery, midwifery, perinatal and obstetrical personnel into health services. According to the policy, the involvement of midwives in Mexico’s health services is essential for intercultural links that allow preventive and promotion activities in a community environment. Midwives can be employed by Mexico’s health services and women have the right to be accompanied by one of them throughout their pregnancy, according to the policy’s guidelines.