Globally, approximately 800 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications every day and 7.6 million children die before they reach the age of five. Within Canada, Indigenous women lack access to culturally appropriate health services such as midwifery, resulting in higher risks of adverse pregnancy and poorer infant health outcomes when compared to non-indigenous women. Also, Indigenous infant mortality rates are three to seven times higher than for non-indigenous children.
Indigenous Midwifery Core Competencies Development
Due to the devastating legacy of colonization and poor access for culturally appropriate health systems, indigenous mothers and children continue to suffer from poor health. Indigenous midwifery is one of the ways in which we can address the lack of access to culturally appropriate maternal and child health services.
Midwives have always been an important part of indigenous communities. However, there are not enough Indigenous midwives for all of the First Nations and Inuit communities in Canada. As a result, women from isolated regions are forced to leave their communities to give birth in larger, centralized, and culturally unsafe hospitals. This has had a devastating impact on both the preservation of Indigenous culture and on sexual, reproductive and newborn health outcomes in Indigenous communities across Canada.
How we’re increasing indigenous midwifery in Canada
With support from Johnson & Johnson, Save the Children Canada and the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives (NACM), have co-designed a strategy that will work towards having an adequate and equitable distribution of appropriately trained Indigenous midwives to provide maternal child health care services within every First Nation, Metis, and Inuit community in the country.
The first step of our strategy is to review the current situation of the Indigenous midwifery occupation and workforce, and ensure there is a better understanding of the skills that are required for midwives to work within Indigenous communities. To acquire this information, Save the Children and NACM will be conducting an Indigenous Midwifery Occupational Workforce Survey and developing an Indigenous Midwifery Core Competencies Framework. The results from the two will support the development and implementation of an Indigenous Midwifery Workforce Strategy, helping us move closer towards our aim of having an Indigenous midwife in every Indigenous community.