Midwives Save Lives

Midwifery has been with us, and central to our communities, since the beginning of time when women attended each other’s deliveries, ushering in new life. Through human development, midwifery has come to be institutionalized and professionalized.  This year’s International Day of the Midwife is themed “for a better tomorrow.”  Midwives not only save lives, they provide hope for that better tomorrow. 

The Philippines, a low to middle income nation, is one of 68 countries that contribute to 97% of all maternal, newborn, and early childhood deaths each year worldwide.  2015 is the ultimate target year of the Millennium Development Goals, a broad-based international effort to eliminate poverty and its effects.  Millennium Development Goal #5 seeks to address maternal mortality, reducing by three-quarters the number of women dying in pregnancy, childbirth and the post-partum period.  Sadly, the Philippines will not achieve the target of 52 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.  Instead, 11 women will die each day leaving more than 30 children motherless for each maternal death.

Midwives are crucial in providing a host of reproductive health care services – from family planning that allows women and their families to number and space their children to vital pre-natal care that can identify at-risk pregnancies in time to refer mothers to physicians and facilities that provide life-saving interventions.  Women are not dying from untreatable diseases and conditions during pregnancy and childbirth – they are dying from preventable causes:  hemorrhage, hypertension, sepsis, obstructed and prolonged labor, and complications from abortion.  Midwives are key to providing not only skilled birth attendance but the essential pre and post natal care an expectant mother needs during what is one of life’s most joyous experiences.

Save the Children and the World Health Organization estimate that another 350,000 midwives are needed to reduce maternal and newborn deaths.  Knowing how pivotal women are to human progress, how they stabilize their societies – from nurturing their loved ones to nurturing their economies and their nations in the process – their tragic and unspeakable loss is felt by families and communities  across the globe.

Facility-based births are on the rise in the Philippines as more women avail themselves of pre-natal care with midwives, nurses, and doctors.  Birthing centers that partner with midwives, such as the one Alay Foundation is building, are the community connection to securing the health of so many mothers and newborns.  Our birthing and women’s center is creating programming that effectively promotes and empowers midwives by making available the space, equipment, and technology to assist them in providing for expectant mothers and by facilitating continuing professional development for each of our partner midwives.  Celebrate midwives, today, and for that “better tomorrow.”  They bring forth the future through their dedication, skill, experience, and compassion.


Click on the link below to read “Giving Life, Giving Health:  The Role of Midwives”


Respectful Maternity Care

Respectful maternity care is more than a socially just idea or concept. It is a reflective movement comprised of health care workers, activists, NGOs, and policy makers determined to protect women’s rights, their dignity, and choices throughout pregnancy and childbirth. In a world where health equity must be fought for, ensuring respectful maternity care must start at the very base of our society as childbearing is at the heart of communities worldwide.

For those of us working with, and advocating for, maternal, newborn, and child health issues it is heartbreaking to learn of the abuses and disrespect that violate women’s human rights before, during, and after childbirth when a woman is in her most vulnerable state. Organizations such as the White Ribbon Alliance have focused their energies on promoting safe motherhood and serve as a model of forward thinking in maternal care. White Ribbon Alliance has established a pioneering charter that embodies women’s rights and humanity in what is termed the childbearing period. While the Charter was inspired by preceding rights-based frameworks, it is nonetheless groundbreaking in its intent and reach.

The Charter of the Universal Rights of Childbearing Women addresses seven categories of disrespect and abuse and their corresponding rights. From physical abuse and non-consented care to denial of care and detention, women in countries ranging from the poorest to the richest are exposed to maternity care providers who would deny them their autonomy and dignity during one of the most important moments of women’s lives.

Alay Foundation embraces the fundamental human rights of women and their families and actively seeks to promote equitable, respectful care in its maternal health programs and facilities. Midwives will serve as the cornerstone of our services and will be included in our mission to bring respectful maternity care to all those we serve in San Jose City and the surrounding barangays. We intend to fully integrate the Charter into our pre-natal care program all the way through the post-natal period to include the child’s first two years.

We encourage you to lend your support to those who work at the forefront of women’s rights across the globe. Take a look at the video above and share our blog with the women and men in your community who strive to defend and uphold the rights of women and their families.