Lifesaving midwifery discoveries of the 20th Century

Midwifery discoveries

There weren’t any.

That’s right. The 20th Century saw one of the greatest public health advances of all time, the steep drop in both perinatal and maternal mortality. Childbirth went from being an occasion for women to write their wills to a “birth experience.” Childbirth is not inherently safe; it is inherently dangerous. It only looks safe because the myriad innovations of modern obstetrics and neonatology have made it safe. Discoveries included antibiotics, blood banking, epidurals, incubators, respirators, surfactant, and Rhogam among others. Not a single one was invented or discovered by a midwife.

Could we do better? I suspect that every obstetrician and neonatologist believes that we can save even more lives and is assiduously working toward that end. What are midwives doing to improve perinatal and maternal mortality rates? Not a blessed thing.

Is it any wonder then that midwives downplay or deny the inherent dangers of childbirth? Well educated, well trained midwives can provide excellent care for women, but only so long as they respect the fact that childbirth is fraught with risk for both baby and mother and it is only the liberal use of the innovations of obstetrics and neonatology that leads to safe outcomes.