Advocacy, Sustainability

International Day of the Midwife Theme Announcement  

16 February 2024

Midwives: A Vital Climate Solution 

Climate change is the greatest health challenge of our time. Our warming planet has more heatwaves, more floods, and more natural disasters that significantly impact the health of women and babies. Putting resources and efforts into addressing the climate crisis is a matter of extreme urgency.  

The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) recognises that midwives are a vital solution in adapting health systems to climate change, and lowering carbon emissions overall. Midwives deliver safe and environmentally sustainable health services and are first responders when climate disasters hit. For this reason, the theme for this year’s International Day of the Midwife (IDM), is Midwives: A Vital Climate Solution 

As midwives we might not immediately see ourselves in as a part of the climate solution. At the same time, it is obvious that the midwifery model of care is environmentally friendly.  Evidence shows that continuity of midwife care leads to optimal and safe outcomes by using fewer resources, resulting in less medical waste and a reduced ecological footprint. The care we provide as midwives also helps ensure that resources and the time and expertise of obstetricians are more available to women with complex care needs. 

Globally, healthcare services emit around 5% of greenhouse gases. By offering continuity of care in communities, midwives reduce the need for avoidable travel to health facilities, thereby cutting the carbon footprint of healthcare while ensuring accessibility.  

Continuity of midwife care also empowers mothers to meet their breastfeeding goals, meaning mothers will often breastfeed longer. Breastfeeding requires no packaging or shipping, creates no waste and has a negligible water footprint. Helping mothers meet their breastfeeding goals is good for the short- and long-term health of babies and mothers, and it’s a win for the planet.  

Beyond maternal and newborn care, midwives serve as champions of sexual and reproductive health. By providing education, contraception, and comprehensive abortion care, we give women the choice about if and when they want to start a family. Promoting women’s rights and economic resilience helps to reduce families’ vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. 

As midwives, we are uniquely positioned to quickly reach and care for women, gender diverse people and babies affected by climate-related disasters. We can serve as vital links for delivering prompt reproductive and maternal health services, can act as essential networks for disseminating evidence-based information and distributing supplies. We are critical health workers who ensure that essential reproductive and maternal health services remain accessible and responsive to the needs of communities. 

Midwives are indeed a vital climate solution. As we celebrate the International Day of the Midwife, we call for investment, resources, autonomy, and a seat at every decision-making table to include continuity of midwife care as a cornerstone of health system planning for climate resilience. We encourage all midwives to join us in this celebration and to advocate for action towards a healthier planet and healthier communities.  

Together, we can create a more sustainable future. #IDM2024 #MidwivesAndClimate 

Member Associations

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