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Health Equity in Midwifery

Explore the critical concept of Health Equity in Midwifery in this comprehensive guide. If you're a nursing teacher or student, you'll gain insight into the definition, importance, and role of health equity within the midwifery field. Moreover, you'll find valuable information on equitable healthcare's impacts, managing social determinants, and effective methods to promote health equality. This guide also covers the barriers to health equity, inclusive practices, and various health equity strategies in nursing, empowering you to enhance your practice or studies within this essential aspect of healthcare.

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Health Equity in Midwifery

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Explore the critical concept of Health Equity in Midwifery in this comprehensive guide. If you're a nursing teacher or student, you'll gain insight into the definition, importance, and role of health equity within the midwifery field. Moreover, you'll find valuable information on equitable healthcare's impacts, managing social determinants, and effective methods to promote health equality. This guide also covers the barriers to health equity, inclusive practices, and various health equity strategies in nursing, empowering you to enhance your practice or studies within this essential aspect of healthcare.

Understanding Health Equity in Midwifery

Unpacking health equity in midwifery requires exploration of complex interplay between a multitude of factors affecting health outcomes. In a nutshell, it concerns ensuring that all childbearing individuals get quality health care services without bias or difference.

Definition: Health Equity in Midwifery

Health Equity in Midwifery is defined as the principle underlying a commitment to reduce—and, ultimately, eliminate—disparities in health and in its determinants. This principle holds that everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible and does not require that all groups have the same outcome.

Addressing health equity in midwifery involves understanding the social, economic, and environmental factors that influence health outcomes and ensuring that care is available, accessible, acceptable, and of good quality for all, irrespective of their racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, or demographic backgrounds.

Importance of Health Equity in Midwifery

Health equity in midwifery not only assists in ensuring better health outcomes but also contributes to healthier communities and societies. Here are just a few reasons why it is of significant importance:

  • Reducing Health Disparities: By focusing on health equity, midwives can work towards reducing health disparities, thereby improving overall public health.
  • Increasing Access to Quality Care: Health equity ensures that everyone, regardless of their background or circumstance, has access to the same quality of care.
  • Better Health Outcomes: Health equity can lead to better health outcomes as it addresses social determinants of health that contribute to health disparities.

For instance, a midwife working in a low-income neighbourhood can advocate for better prenatal care programs. This approach not only ensures that all pregnant women in the area receive adequate care but also addresses the social determinants of health, like poverty, that contribute to poor health outcomes. By focusing on health equity, the midwife is making sure each woman is given an equitable opportunity to a healthy pregnancy and baby.

A fascinating research revealed that midwifery-led care models deliver equivalent, or even improved health outcomes compared to other models of care, particularly concerning reducing preterm birth rates. These models also foster health equity by providing personalised and woman-centred care, reflecting the ethic of respect for all persons, and valuing diversity.

Addressing health equity in midwifery may involve challenging existing norms and systems and working towards integrating equity-focused approaches into practice and policies.

Equitable Healthcare in Midwifery and Its Impacts

Understanding the concept of equitable healthcare in midwivery is pivotal in today's increasingly diverse society. It represents a proactive endeavour to level the playing field, ensuring that all individuals, regardless of ethnicity, income, or location, have access to the appropriate quality of healthcare needed for optimal outcomes.

Benefits of Implementing Equitable Healthcare in Midwifery

The benefits of implementing equitable healthcare in midwifery are numerous. The endeavour to ensure equal accessibility and quality of care for all demographic groups has far-reaching impacts on both individual health outcomes and the wider health system.

Informed and Empowered Patients: Equitable healthcare empowers women to make informed decisions about their health. They are provided with equal access to health information, enabling them to better understand their health needs and options.

Improved Patient Trust: When healthcare is equitable and respects the individual needs and circumstances of women, it fosters increased trust in the healthcare system. This, in turn, can contribute to increased patient engagement and improved health outcomes.

Enhanced Quality of Care: Addressing health equity in midwifery can lead to improvements in overall care quality. Identifying and addressing disparities provides an opportunity for system-wide improvements.

Real-life Examples of Equitable Healthcare in Midwifery

Several real-life examples highlight how equitable healthcare in midwifery can be successfully implemented and the difference it can make.

Community Midwifery Programs: These types of programs, common in countries like the Netherlands and Sweden, aim to provide equitable access to midwifery care. They deliver community-based services that are geographically accessible to all women, regardless of their location or socioeconomic status.

Culturally Appropriate Midwifery Care: In regions with significant indigenous populations, such as New Zealand and Canada, midwives are using culturally appropriate care models. This approach respects and incorporates traditional childbirth practices, creating an environment where indigenous women feel acknowledged, respected, and comfortable, ultimately leading to better health outcomes.

Unique to the United States, the Maternity Care Desert initiative is a program aimed at addressing the lack of maternal care services in rural areas. The focus is on establishing birth centres staffed by Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) and Certified Midwives (CMs) to offer comprehensive, woman-centred care to those living in maternity care deserts, significantly improving the health equity within the region.

When equitable healthcare is practised in midwifery, both women and society stand to benefit. It fills crucial gaps in the health services landscape and allows for more consistent and improved health outcomes for all.

Social Determinants in Midwifery Care

Social determinants of health play a pivotal role in the field of midwifery. Embedded in the foundation of healthcare, these non-medical factors influence the health and well-being of individuals and communities. In context, understanding and addressing social determinants in midwifery care is essential to achieve health equity.

Influential Social Determinants in Midwifery Care

There are many influential social determinants that impact health outcomes in midwifery care. These factors are often interrelated and reinforce each other, making them challenging to address in isolation.

Social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These conditions are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels.

Key identifiable social determinants impacting midwifery care include:

  • Economic Stability: This includes employment status, income, and financial support systems, which can influence access to healthcare services and the ability to make healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Education Access and Quality: A woman's level of education is often linked to better health outcomes, as it directly impacts her understanding of health information and her capacity to make informed health decisions.
  • Social and Community Context: This covers factors like social inclusion, support networks, and cultural norms, which can strongly impact maternal and neonatal health outcomes.
  • Healthcare Access and Quality: The availability of resources, healthcare services, and quality care greatly influence health outcomes in midwifery.
  • Neighborhood and Built Environment: This includes elements like housing quality, access to nutritious food, and safety, all of which significantly affect maternal health.

For instance, consider a woman living below the poverty line, in a neighbourhood lacking health facilities or transportation to reach them. She may face challenges in accessing prenatal care, placing both her and her baby at potential health risk. Likewise, cultural or language barriers may prevent a woman from understanding health information, leading to less informed health decisions.

Managing Social Determinants for Better Midwifery Care

Addressing social determinants in midwifery care involves adopting proactive and comprehensive strategies. Midwives and other health professionals need to understand and consider these determinants to offer better and individualised care.

Health Advocacy refers to actions taken by health professionals to bring about societal and organisational change to improve health and reduce health inequities. This involves lobbying, social marketing, information provision, and capacity building.

Recommended steps to manage social determinants for better midwifery care could be:

  • Health Advocacy: Midwives can play a significant role by advocating for policy changes at local, regional, or national levels to influence these determinants.
  • Collaboration: Collaborating with community leaders, social services, and non-governmental organisations can help tackle determinants like poverty, education, and social support systems.
  • Health Education: Providing tailored health education to women can promote informed health decisions and behaviour.
  • Cultural Competency: By developing cultural competency, midwives can provide care that aligns with the cultural, linguistic, and social needs of their patients.

Take a look at the Group Antenatal Care model, where pregnant women with similar gestational ages are grouped together for their prenatal care appointments. These sessions often encompass health education, peer support, and individual consultations with the midwife. As a result, women get longer time with the healthcare provider, increased sense of community support, and have the space to learn, share, and make key decisions throughout their pregnancy journey.

Research has shown that integrating social determinants into healthcare planning dramatically improves health outcomes. A ten-year study in Philadelphia demonstrated that patients receiving adequate housing support from healthcare organisations experienced 30% fewer emergency room visits, a saving of $2355 per person per year in medical costs.

Building a health system that recognises and manages social determinants will require considerable systemic transformation, but the benefits to overall population health and the reduction in health inequities make it an essential focus for midwifery and other areas of health care.

Promoting Health Equality in Midwifery

In the realm of healthcare, nurses and particularly midwives, can play a transformative role in promoting health equality. By adopting a comprehensive and culturally competent approach to care, midwives can help reduce maternal health disparities and improve overall health outcomes in different communities and populations.

Health Equality refers to the absence of systematic disparities in health between different social groups. It is not just about ensuring everyone has the same access to resources and opportunities, but also about tailoring care to meet the specific needs of different populations.

Effective Methods for Promoting Health Equality in Midwifery

To pander to the principles of health equality, midwives can adoptdifferent measures. These methods can optimally be implemented at various levels of care— individual, community, and policy, blurring the lines between health disparities.

  • Individual Care Approach: This addresses the diverse healthcare needs and barriers of each pregnant woman to ensure they receive the required adequate care.
  • Community Engagement: Engaging communities can be exceedingly effective in addressing collective health challenges and driving social change. It involves creating partnerships with community-based organizations, social services, and leaders.
  • Policy Advocacy: Midwives can advocate for policies that address systemic injustices and health disparities. This includes lobbying for access to quality healthcare, paid maternity leave, and better living conditions, among other things.

For example, in a community characterised by high rates of maternal mortality among immigrant women, a midwife could propose antenatal classes in multiple languages and culturally appropriate resources. This approach could be instrumental in enhancing the understanding and comfort level of these women, thereby improving their health outcomes.

The World Health Organization recognises midwives as vital to promoting and achieving health equity. In fact, 87% of all reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health services can be delivered by well-trained, effectively deployed midwives, a testament to their crucial role in achieving health equality.

Case Studies: Promoting Health Equality in Midwifery

An examination of real-life scenarios can create a more vivid understanding of how health equality is promoted in the midwifery field.

Midwives for Haiti: Midwives for Haiti is a non-profit organisation committed to improving maternal and infant health in Haiti - a country with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the Western Hemisphere. This initiative focuses on training local skilled birth attendants who are well-versed with the language, culture, and specific health needs of the local population, enhancing cultural competence and promoting health equality.

The Toronto Birth Centre (TBC): The TBC built an Indigenous-led, community-based birthing site in Toronto, offering an alternative to hospital births. The centre emphasises traditional Indigenous birthing practices and promotes the use of natural birth methods. This culturally-sensitive approach improves maternal health outcomes in the Indigenous community, promoting health equality.

Remarkably, a study published in the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health showed that care from midwives can lead to lower rates of interventions, fewer preterm births, and better maternal-child outcomes. Such substantial evidence backs the potential for midwives to revolutionise healthcare systems and upholds the value of midwifery in promoting health equality.

These instances underline how promoting health equality in midwifery can dramatically improve outcomes. Utilising diverse, culturally-informed, and patient-centred methods can indeed break persisting health disparity barriers, securing happier, healthier futures for all mothers and babies alike.

Addressing Barriers to Health Equity in Midwifery

In the pursuit of health equity in midwifery, it is essential to identify and address the barriers that stymie such progression. These obstacles are rooted in systemic structures, socio-economic factors, and cultural norms. Recognising and tackling these barriers is a step towards ensuring every individual receives optimal, individualised healthcare no matter their demographic characteristics.

Common Barriers to Health Equity in Midwifery

Barriers to health equity in midwifery are complex, multi-dimensional, and often intersecting. They operate at various levels from individual ones to systemic ones. Understanding these barriers is the first step towards formulating effective strategies to combat health inequity.

  • Socio-economic barriers: Economic constraints can limit a woman's access to quality reproductive healthcare. For example, women of low income may be unable to afford quality midwifery care or may lack access to health insurance that covers such services.
  • Geographic barriers: In rural or remote areas, the lack of healthcare facilities and services, especially childbirth services, can seriously impede access to quality care.
  • Cultural and linguistic barriers: Cultural beliefs and language barriers can prevent women from fully understanding their health needs or engaging actively in their healthcare.
  • Systemic barriers: These consist of policies and practices that create unequal access to healthcare based on race, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. For instance, institutional racism in healthcare settings can lead to inadequate care for racial and ethnic minority women.

Consider a pregnant woman in a rural area with restricted healthcare facilities and services. Coupled with a lack of transportation and financial constraints, the chance of this woman receiving adequate prenatal care significantly diminishes. Additionally, if this woman belongs to an ethnic minority group and faces linguistic barriers, her ability to access quality care and make informed health decisions can be further hampered.

Data from the CDC reveals that racial and ethnic minority women are 2 to 3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women— a stark revelation of the systemic disparities plaguing the US healthcare system. It is thus apparent that there's a pressing need to address these barriers to reduce health inequity and improve maternal outcomes.

Strategies for Addressing Health Inequity in Midwifery

Addressing health inequity in midwifery involves a comprehensive and participatory approach. This includes educating and empowering communities, advocating for policy changes, and cultivating a culturally competent healthcare workforce.

Health Literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

  • Promote Health Literacy: Empowering women with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions about their health can promote health equity. This involves providing health education and information in a culturally appropriate and understandable language.
  • Partnering with Community Organizations: Partnering with community groups and local stakeholders can help address geographic and socio-economic barriers. These partnerships can result in the provision of community-based healthcare services and support networks for women in need.
  • Advocacy: Midwives can use their voices to advocate for policy changes that address systemic barriers to health equity. Advocacy may involve lobbying for greater funding for maternal health services in rural areas or for policies against racial discrimination in healthcare settings.
  • Cultural Competence Training for Midwives: Culturally competent care is integral to health equity. It involves understanding and respecting different cultural practices related to childbirth and providing care in a manner that meets the individual needs of each woman.

Consider the 'Midwives for All' initiative in Uganda, which aims to increase access to qualified midwives in rural areas where the need is greatest. By partnering with local communities and leveraging government support, the program has increased the number of qualified midwives, thereby improving access to maternal healthcare services in underserved communities.

A research article published in Obstetrics & Gynecology revealed that higher rates of midwife-led care were associated with better maternal and neonatal outcomes, including fewer interventions, lower preterm birth rates, and higher breastfeeding initiation rates. This supports the critical role that midwives can play in addressing health inequities and promoting optimal health outcomes.

Addressing health equity in midwifery is not just about dismantling barriers but also actively ensuring every woman, regardless of her economic, cultural or geographic circumstances, receives the quality of care that she deserves.

Inclusive Midwifery Practices for Health Equity

In the continuous strive to promote health equity, adopting inclusive midwifery practices is integral. Ensuring inclusive practices not only enhances the provision of respectful, comprehensive and quality clinical care, but also leads to better health outcomes for mothers and newborns across all stratas of society.

Inclusive Midwifery Practices are procedures and protocols that ensure that all women, regardless of their social, economic, or cultural background, are treated with dignity, respect, and fairness, while receiving appropriate and quality midwifery care.

Significance of Inclusive Midwifery Practices

As midwives forge a direct link between healthcare systems and communities, they play a pivotal role in constructing inclusive environments that respect and cater to diverse backgrounds and needs. Highlighting such significance of inclusive midwifery practices gives weightage to their role in health equity.

According to a research in "The Lancet" series, midwife-led care is associated with reductions in preterm birthing rates, obstetric interventions, and overall costs. This highlights the broad benefits of inclusivity and reiterates the enormous potential midwives can play in delivering inclusive healthcare.

  • Ensuring Equal Access: Inclusive practices aim to ensure all women, irrespective of their socio-economic or ethnic backgrounds, are accessing and benefiting from quality midwifery services.
  • Respecting Cultural Norms: Culturally competent care forms a cornerstone of inclusive practices. By respecting and incorporating unique cultural customs and beliefs, midwives can foster trust and boost patient satisfaction.
  • Improving Health Outcomes: Several studies have correlated inclusive midwifery services with improved health outcomes, including lower rates of maternal and neonatal mortality, and higher rates of patient satisfaction.

For example, In certain Native American communities, traditional birthing practices may include the presence of a female family elder during labour. In inclusive midwifery practice, midwives would encourage this cultural norm, while ensuring that the woman's safety and health are maintained, thereby enhancing her comfort, ensuring cultural validity, and promoting a healthy birthing journey.

Steps to Enhance Inclusivity in Midwifery Practices

To champion health equity, concrete steps can be made to foster and promote inclusivity in midwifery practices, ranging from diversity training for midwives to policy changes at the systemic level.

  • Cultural Competency Training: Midwives should receive comprehensive training on understanding, respecting, and accommodating cultural diversity and unique health beliefs and practices.
  • Support for Language Diversity: Language should never be a barrier to quality healthcare. Language training for midwives, availability of interpreters, and culturally-tailored education materials can help ensure inclusivity.
  • Community Engagement: Midwives can partner with local community organizations to understand unique health needs, cultural norms, and potential health barriers within these communities.
  • Policy Advocacy: Midwives can play a vital role in advocating policies that promote diversity, inclusivity and health equality. This can range from policies mandating cultural competency and diversity training, to health policies that ensure midwifery services are affordable and accessible to all.

Consider the example of midwives in New Zealand who undergo rigorous training to understand the specific cultural births practices of the Maori people. These midwives are trained to conduct a "whakawhanaungatanga" - a traditional Maori introduction that acknowledges mutual ancestors and shared connections, creating a sense of trust and respect between the midwife and the expecting mother, promoting cultural safety, inclusivity, and ultimately, better health outcomes.

According to the World Health Organization, ensuring that midwives are educated to international standards and that they work within an enabling environment can reduce maternal and newborn deaths by two thirds. Therefore, reinforcing inclusivity in these practices is paramount, ensuring every woman feels heard, respected, and receives individualised, competent care.

Health Equity Strategies in Nursing

The strive towards health equity in nursing requires effectual strategies designed to address and mitigate the multifaceted issues of access, quality of care, socio-cultural competence, and policy influence. Such strategies aim to provide every patient with equitable healthcare services, irrespective of their socio-economic, cultural, or geographical background.

Implementing Health Equity Strategies in Nursing

There are several actionable strategies that can be implemented within the nursing discipline to foster health equity. Each strategy aims to further the worthy goal of ensuring each individual, regardless of individual factors like ethnicity, gender, or economic situation, has an equal right to top-notch, person-centred healthcare.

  • Policy Advocacy: Nurses can use their collective voices to advocate for health policies that bolster equity in healthcare. Advocacy often involves championing for laws and reforms that ensure equal access to healthcare services, and address systemic health disparities.
  • Cultural Competency Training: Education and training around cultural competency can equip nurses with the skills and understanding necessary to provide culturally sensitive care. This helps to build a secure, respectful and inclusive healthcare environment.

Person-centred Care refers to care that is respectful of, and responsive to, the preferences, needs, and values of the patient.

  • Promote Person-centered Care: This approach to care sees patients as equal partners in planning, developing, and monitoring care to ensure that it meets their needs. This approach can significantly improve healthcare outcomes and patient satisfaction.
  • Community Engagement: Working closely with community organisations, nurse practitioners can better understand health needs, social determinants of health, and develop more effective health interventions.

Consider a nurse working in an urban hospital who has noticed discrepancies in health outcomes among patients from different socio-economic backgrounds. By advocating for the implementation of a community-based health program, the nurse can help bridge the gap, providing education, resources, and healthcare access to underserved households in the surrounding community.

Impact of Health Equity Strategies in Nursing: A Comprehensive Overview

Health equity strategies in nursing not only enhance the provision of quality healthcare services but can also contribute to better health outcomes and patient satisfaction.

A study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that person-centered care, one of the strategies for promoting health equity, increased patient satisfaction rates and improved health outcomes. It also found that nurses who are trained in providing culturally competent care are better equipped to provide care that respects and integrates patients' cultural beliefs and practices.

  • Improved Access to Care: By advocating for equitable health policies and practicing community engagement, nurses can help improve access to healthcare services, particularly for underserved populations.
  • Enhanced Quality of Care: Implementing cultural competency and person-centred care strategies can enhance the provision of safe, effective, and quality care.
  • Improved Health Outcomes: Health equity strategies aim to address social determinants of health which can have a profound impact on health outcomes. Policies focussed on social determinants may influence health outcomes on a large scale.
  • Better Patient Satisfaction: Respectful, culturally sensitive, and individualised care can increase patient satisfaction levels.

For instance, in a local community health clinic, a nurse notices that many Hispanic patients are not adhering to prescribed treatment plans. By incorporating cultural competency training, the healthcare professionals in the clinic learn of the strong familial bonds and holistic view of health within the Hispanic culture. With this knowledge, the clinic begins to involve the whole family in treatment discussions. As a result, treatment plan adherence significantly improves, leading to better health outcomes for Hispanic patients in the community.

Health Equity in Midwifery - Key takeaways

  • Health Equity in Midwifery: This refers to the equal opportunity for all people, regardless of social, economic, or cultural background, to access quality midwifery care. It considers social determinants, such as socio-economic status, education, and access to nutritious food and safety, which significantly affect maternal health.
  • Addressing Social Determinants in Midwifery Care: Addressing these factors involves adopting proactive and comprehensive strategies by midwives to offer better and individualised care. Such strategies include health advocacy, collaboration with community leaders and non-governmental organisations, health education, and development of cultural competency.
  • Promoting Health Equality in Midwifery: Midwives play a transformative role in promoting health equality by adopting a comprehensive and culturally competent approach to care, reducing maternal health disparities and improving overall health outcomes in different communities and populations.
  • Barriers to Health Equity in Midwifery: These obstacles are rooted in systemic structures, socio-economic factors, and cultural norms, and include economic constraints limiting access to quality reproductive healthcare, lack of healthcare facilities and services in rural or remote areas, cultural beliefs and language barriers, and systemic barriers creating unequal access to healthcare based on demographic characteristics.
  • Inclusive Midwifery Practices: These practices involve treating all women with dignity, respect, and fairness, while ensuring they receive appropriate and quality midwifery care, regardless of their social, economic, or cultural background.

Frequently Asked Questions about Health Equity in Midwifery

Health equity in midwifery care ensures all pregnant women, regardless of their socioeconomic, racial, or cultural backgrounds, receive equal and quality care. It promotes fair distribution of resources, addresses health disparities, and fosters a respectful and responsive healthcare environment.

Health equity in midwifery contributes towards better healthcare for all by ensuring fair treatment and equal distribution of resources for pregnant individuals, regardless of their socio-economic or ethnic background. It promotes better birth outcomes and postnatal care through personalized, culturally competent care.

Midwives can promote health equity by providing culturally sensitive care, advocating for policy changes, actively addressing implicit biases in care, and pushing for equal access to quality prenatal and maternal healthcare for all, regardless of socio-economic status or ethnicity.

Barriers to health equity in UK midwifery include socio-economic factors, geographic location, lack of culturally appropriate care, language barriers, and limited access to quality midwifery education and training.

Improving health equity in midwifery services can be achieved through education and training on cultural sensitivities, increasing diversity within the midwifery workforce, improving accessibility of services in under-resourced locations, and developing policies that ensure equal treatment and access for all patients.

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What is Health Equity in Midwifery?

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What is Health Equity in Midwifery?

Health Equity in Midwifery is the principle committed to reducing disparities in health and its determinants, ensuring that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible, not requiring all groups to have the same outcome.

Why is Health Equity in Midwifery important?

Health Equity in Midwifery is critical for reducing health disparities, increasing access to quality care, and achieving better health outcomes as it addresses social determinants of health that contribute to disparities.

What are the benefits of implementing equitable healthcare in midwifery?

The benefits include more informed and empowered patients, improved patient trust, and enhanced quality of care. Equal access to health information promotes understanding of health needs, equitable healthcare fosters greater patient trust, and addressing health disparities can lead to system-wide improvements.

What are some examples of equitable healthcare in midwifery in real-life?

Examples include Community Midwifery Programmes that are geographically accessible to all women, Culturally Appropriate Midwifery Care that respects indigenous childbirth practices, and the Maternity Care Desert initiative in the United States.

What are some key social determinants impacting midwifery care?

Key social determinants include economic stability, education access and quality, social and community context, healthcare access and quality, and neighbourhood and built environment.

What are some recommended steps to manage social determinants for better midwifery care?

Recommended steps include health advocacy, collaboration with community leaders and organisations, tailored health education for women, and developing cultural competency.

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