10 facts on midwifery
Updated May 2014
Midwifery services are key to family planning, a safe pregnancy and childbirth as well as healthy newborns. Worldwide, approximately 287 000 women die every year due to pregnancy and childbirth related complications, 2.9 million newborns die in the first month of life and there are 2.6 million stillbirths. Most of these largely preventable deaths occur in low-income countries and in poor and rural areas.
WHO supports countries' efforts to make sure that every women and every newborn baby receive the best possible health care. Many maternal and newborn deaths can be prevented if competent midwives assist women before, during and after childbirth. Where referral services are in place, midwives are able to identify and refer women and newborns with complications to emergency obstetric or paediatric care when severe complications arise.