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International Day of the Midwife 2020: Thanking and supporting your midwife has never been so important

International Day of the Midwife 2020: Thanking and supporting your midwife has never been so important

Today is the International Day of the Midwife, a day on which countries around the globe celebrate and recognise the vital work that midwives perform. It has been observed on 5th May for nearly three decades, and whilst the celebrations in 2020 may be rather different from previous years, the underlying message is more important than ever.

As the world is gripped by pandemic, many aspects of everyday life have changed beyond recognition or ground to a halt altogether. Whilst maternity care has indeed been shaped by the effects of the virus, the work of midwives – protecting and caring for women and babies, and defending their rights – continues, albeit under more challenging circumstances. It is no surprise to see the amazing solidarity being shown in maternity units across the country, with students and retired midwives taking on new responsibilities, and teams working together to maintain the highest standard of care.

Baby Lifeline has provided CPD training for thousands of midwives over the last few years, and the determination, skill, knowledge, and compassion never cease to amaze us. The role of the midwife is quite unique amongst healthcare professionals. Midwives form lasting bonds with women and their families, provide guidance and support over an extended period, whilst all the time utilising their medical knowledge to protect mothers and babies from harm.

The crucial part that midwives play in bringing new life into the world must never be undervalued, and today it is important that we all remember this.

With this in mind, it is imperative that the care and support that midwives provide is reciprocated, and they themselves must be looked after too. Earlier this year, Baby Lifeline released its Closing the Gap report which, amongst other things, examined the need for adequate funding for CPD training for maternity healthcare professionals.

Retention rates and attrition within the midwifery workforce are a significant problem. There are likely to be many underlying factors here, but it is impossible to ignore the simple fact that midwives are not receiving the support that they deserve and need. CPD training is an important part of this, and it’s an area that seems to be undervalued within healthcare when compared with other sectors.

Adequate ongoing training improves morale and wellbeing within the workforce, as well as having the potential to save lives and improve outcomes. For this reason, Baby Lifeline delivered a letter to Downing Street in March this year asking for an immediate reinstatement of the Maternity Safety Training Fund, and for this to be a ring-fenced and recurring resource.

As we take time today to show gratitude for everything that midwives do, we must also make a commitment to ensuring they have the backing that they so richly deserve.

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