Midwifery Facts

Some people still believe…

  • The earth is flat . . .
  • The sun revolves around the earth . . .
  • You’ll get cramps if you swim after eating . . .
  • The streets of America are paved with gold . . .
  • The check is in the mail . . .
  • Hospital birth is safer than home birth . . .
  • Doctors are safer than midwives . . .

Get the facts, know the truth!

  • The percentage of countries providing universal prenatal care that have lower infant mortality rates than the United States: 100%.
  • The percentage of U.S. births attended principally by midwives: 5% The percentage of European births attended principally by midwives: 75%.
  • Number of midwives practicing in the U.S.: 3,000-4,000 direct-entry midwives; 3,500 certified nurse-midwives.
  • Number of midwives needed in the U.S. to meet European levels: 120,000.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the preferred location for most births is outside the hospital, either at home or in a birthing center, and that out-of-hospital birth should be implemented and maintained as the basic standard for all midwifery education and training programs.
  • According to two recently published studies, direct-entry midwife-attended home births were accomplished with safety comparable to that of conventional births. In fact, physician-attended hospital birth has never been shown to be safer than midwife-attended home birth for women with normal pregnancies.
  • Most home births in the United States are attended by direct-entry midwives.
  • Americans could save $13 billion to $20 billion annually in health care costs by developing a network of midwifery care providers, demedicalizing childbirth, and encouraging breastfeeding. (Frank A. Oski, M.D., professor and director, Department of Pediatrics, John Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore)

Sources: American Journal of Public Health 1992; 82:450-453; Birth, 1994;1:141-148; Midwives Alliance of North America and Citizens for Midwifery .