Position Statement

Midwives and Prevention of Antimicrobial Resistance

Practice Updates
Last Edited 1 June 2023 02:54 CEST


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious and growing threat to public health and the health of childbearing women and their newborn infants specifically. AMR means that microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microbes) are becoming less and less treatable and preventable due to resistance to antimicrobials (e.g. antibiotics). When microbes become resistant to the drugs that kill them, the number of women and newborn babies who die from infection will increase significantly. Annually an estimated 30.000 women and 40.000 newborn infants die due to severe infections during the period of birth (i).  

Primary prevention of infection, though appropriate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) measures at birth settings (ii) (iii) , accurate treatment of infection, and prevention of antimicrobial resistance are key in reducing these numbers (iv) . Once of these measures is handwashing before every contact with a mother or newborn infant.  

To preserve antimicrobial treatment options as long as possible WHO has developed a Global Action Plan (v) on AMR that includes 5 strategic objectives in which midwives associations and midwives, together with other health professions, have a role to play. The strategic objectives are:  

  • to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance; 
  • to strengthen knowledge through surveillance and research; 
  • to reduce the incidence of infection; 
  • to optimize the use of antimicrobial agents; and 
  • to develop an economic case for sustainable investment that takes account of the needs of all countries, and increase investment in new medicines, diagnostic tools, vaccines and other interventions. 



ICM recognises the current and immediate threat that antimicrobial resistance has on the health of women and their newborn infants.  

ICM urges midwives to take all necessary (WASH) measures to prevent infection at birth settings. ICM underlines the need for midwives to take action to preserve antimicrobial treatment options as long as possible, and supports international regional and national actions to do so.  



ICM recommends its member association to:  

  • Advocate for, and work with relevant partners to establish WASH at birth, neonatal and postpartum settings and antimicrobial resistance as a core component of education, training, and professional development 
  • Support training and education on infection prevention measures as a mandatory requirement in education and professional development. 
  • Develop a code of conduct for appropriate training in, education about, and marketing, purchasing and use of antimicrobial agents. 
  • Promote the importance of skin-to-skin contact to support the development of a healthy microbiome 
  • Promote judicious use of (prophylactic) antibiotics 

Related ICM Documentation  


Other Relevant Documentation  


Adopted at Toronto Council meeting, 2017  

Due for next review 2023  


PS2017_001 V0217