Maternal and neonatal care in the US needs improvement. In the last two decades, there’s been a 50 percent increase in severe maternal complications. And close to half of all US counties are without a obstetrician-gynecologist. It gets even worse in rural areas. And one study is suggesting a solution to the dire situation in the US: more midwives. They could potentially reduce maternal and infant mortality rate.

In Great Britain, midwives are involved in 50 percent of the childbirths. In other affluent countries, including Sweden, Norway, Canada, France and New Zealand, midwives attend to most pregnant and new mothers.

And as the number of midwives got up in these countries, their rates of maternal and infant mortality rates go done. Unfortunately, that same cannot be said of the US, where midwives only deliver about 10 percent of the babies born.

In a study published last week entitled, “Mapping integration of midwives across the United States: Impact on access, equity, and outcomes”, researchers set out to see the difference midwives make here in the US.

Their results found that in states with the most midwives, including Washington, New Mexico and Oregon, had “higher rates of spontaneous vaginal delivery, vaginal birth after cesarean and breastfeeding.”

States, such as North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Ohio, who had fewer midwives had higher rates cesarean, preterm birth, low birth weight infants and neonatal death.

In short, researchers concluded that wherever more midwives were in practice, there were fewer adverse neonatal outcomes.

This research suggests that an increase in midwives throughout the US can provide better care to expectant mothers, along with their newborns.

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