International Day of Midwives

I RECENTLY sponsored a Senedd reception for the Royal College of Midwives to highlight the International Day of Midwives.

It wasn't until a few months ago that I knew that May 5, was the day to highlight the work of midwives.

Most of us take for granted the importance and quality of care that midwives provide to women, babies and families. About 900,000 women give birth each year in the UK and the majority of care for pregnant women is provided by midwifes. Almost all of us have received care and support from a midwife at least once in our lifetimes.

The aim of the event that I hosted was to highlight not only the fantastic level of care and support that midwives provide to families in the UK but the need to improve care during pregnancy and birth across the world. Considerable progress has been made to increase access to skilled care at birth and the proportion of women who give birth in safe medical facilities. However it is still the case that almost 290,000 women and over three million infants around the world die each year as a result of preventable pregnancy and childbirth complications. The safe pregnancy and childbirth experience that our NHS delivers the overwhelming majority of the time should not be taken for granted. Some critics attack the NHS and say that we have a third world health service. We do not and we should not forget how fortunate we are in this country.

Good maternity care has far reaching effects for both families and communities. The support that midwives and health visitors provide in the early days of parenthood should not be underestimated. It is a time when many parents feel overwhelmed and unsure. The visits, support and information provided are a lifeline to many families, especially first time parents. The respect and trust that midwives and health visitors gain help families of all social and economic groups. That trust is especially important in the Welsh Government’s Flying Start scheme where health visitors and midwives have a key role.

I would be interested in hearing your views if you have recently received support from midwives or health visitors. Please get in touch with my office by writing to the National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff Bay CF99 1NA or by email