CDHB Midwives and Canterbury-West Coast NZ College of Midwives walk for mums and bubs

Friday May 6, 2011

Canterbury and West Coast midwives have this week been raising awareness and funds to tackle global inequalities in maternal and newborn health.

Canterbury Tactix assistant coach and mother of four Julie Seymour led about 30 midwives and mothers in a walk around Hagley Park yesterday to mark International Day of the Midwife.

New Zealand College of Midwife spokeswoman Janaya Anisy says New Zealanders are fortunate to have a world class maternity system with excellent outcomes for New Zealand women and their babies.

“However, globally more than 340,000 women die each year, with millions more suffering infection and disability, as a result of preventable maternal causes and the lack of a midwife to attend them,” Janaya says.

Canterbury District Health Board midwife educator Tina Hewitt says the world needs midwives more than ever.

“We wanted to raise awareness of the fact that access to essential midwifery services reduces maternal and infant mortality and reduces the cycle of poverty in developing countries.”

Money raised from the Canterbury walk yesterday will be donated to assist Japanese midwives who have been affected in the Fukushima Earthquake and Tsunami, Tina says.

“Japan has been selected because, while it has an excellent maternity system, services will be suffering following the quake and Christchurch people can relate on a similar level to what they must be going through.”

The walk is also a lead in to the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Congress in Durban in June, a global gathering where 3000 midwives will share evidence on reducing maternal mortality and improve the care and support available to mothers and newborns around the world.

Four members including the NZCOM chief executive, Karen Guilliland will be attending the ICM Council meeting to discuss and help find solutions to the unacceptable maternal mortality figures in the resource poor world.

Additional information:

Midwives in New Zealand

  • Almost 100 percent of women in New Zealand have a midwife present at the birth of their child.

  • There were almost 64,000 babies born in 2010.

  • The average age to become a first-time mother is 30.

  • Every year the NZ College of Midwives’ membership grows and today NZCOM represents 90 percent of practicing midwives.

  • There are almost 3000 midwives at present practicing in New Zealand, up from 2500 in 2009.

  • Midwives are highly educated health professionals with strong and effective accountability frameworks supporting practice.

  • With the support, information and knowledge Midwives share with women and their families, a new born baby has the best possible start in life.


  • Ninety nine percent of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries: the chances of dying during pregnancy or childbirth in Somalia are 1 in 14, in Sub-Saharan Africa 1 in 31 and 1 in 4,200 in Europe.

  • Pregnancy and childbirth are among the leading causes of death and disability for girls and women in developing countries.

  • Approximately 13 million adolescent girls give birth each year in developing countries, they often miss out on years of education which reduces their chances for adequate income and opportunity to escape poverty.

Effects of skilled birth attendance in pregnancy and birth

  • Up to 90 percent of maternal deaths could be prevented by universal access to adequate reproductive health services, equipment, supplies and skilled healthcare workers.

  • A 10 percent increase in midwives or skilled birth attendants leads to a 5 percent reduction in maternal deaths.

  • Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Thailand managed to half their Maternal Mortality Rate within 10 years by increasing the number of midwives.

  • It was estimated 350,000 extra midwives are needed to ensure universal coverage for maternity care but this number is now under review.

Page last reviewed: 14 February 2014