Navigating the Climate Crisis: A Call to Action for Midwives on #IDM2024

By Lia Brigante on 01 May 2024

Navigating the Climate Crisis: A Call to Action for Midwives on #IDM2024

By Lia Brigante, professional policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and a board member for Europe at the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM)

As many midwives, I find myself deeply concerned about the intersection of the climate crisis and maternal health. Year after year, we witness rising temperatures, intensified extreme weather events, and alarming clusters of heatwaves. The data is clear: women exposed to compound heatwaves are at increased risk of experiencing preterm and early term births. What's more, low to middle-income countries bear the brunt of poor birth outcomes, underscoring the stark disparities exacerbated by climate change. This is not a problem confined to some geographical areas, closer to the Equator. In high-income countries and across the Europe region, women from lower socio-economic backgrounds and women from marginalised ethnic groups face disproportionate challenges and poorer outcomes.

As midwives, we cannot afford to ignore the urgent call to action. While we may not single-handedly reverse the course of climate change, our role in providing accessible, woman-centred care is pivotal. Increasing access to midwifery care, including homebirth and midwife-led units, not only improves health outcomes but also aligns with efforts to decarbonise care provision. Midwives can provide community care, closer to women and their families and minimising resources’ utilisation.

Furthermore, we must advocate for greater representation of midwives and women in climate crisis discussions and health leadership roles. Despite comprising the majority of the global health workforce, women are shockingly underrepresented in leadership positions. The absence of midwives' voices at national leadership level perpetuates a glaring oversight in addressing the intersection of maternal health and climate change.

Midwives, we are uniquely positioned to drive change. By prioritising woman-centred care, advocating for climate action, and amplifying our voices in leadership roles, we can make a tangible difference in safeguarding the health and well-being of future generations.

The climate crisis is not just an environmental issue; it's a profound threat to human wellbeing and equity. As midwives, let us rise to the challenge, standing at the forefront of efforts to mitigate its impact on women and babies. Together, we can navigate this crisis, ensuring a healthier, more sustainable future for all.

Get involved and access the ICM Toolkit here:

#IDM2024 #MidwivesAndClimate 🌿 @lia_bri