For thousands of years, since long before
there were doctors or hospitals, midwives
have been helping women stay healthy,
helping babies into the world, and helping
families grow. Ask a woman why she prefers
the care of a midwife and she will tell you
that midwives are knowledgeable, patient,
and respectful of her traditions.
Why are midwives such important and
valued health workers?
• Midwives trust in the safety of pregnancy and birth, and have
confidence that women can work together to protect their
• Midwives often live in the communities they serve, so the
families they help know and trust them.
• Many midwives spend more time with the women they care
for than a doctor or clinic worker would. This helps midwives
to better understand women’s needs, and to see danger signs.
• Most midwives are women. Many women feel more
comfortable talking to a woman health worker.
• Midwives charge lower fees than most doctors or hospitals —
valuing service to the community over the pursuit of money
• In poor communities where there are few health services,
midwives are often the only health workers.
For all these reasons, in most of the world midwives are the first
and sometimes the only health workers women go to for help in
birth or for any health problem. But midwives face a number of
challenges in this important work.