Promoting Natural Childbirth Cornerstone of Health Policy

Promoting Natural Childbirth Cornerstone of Health PolicyPromoting Natural Childbirth Cornerstone of Health Policy

Since the launching of the Health Reform Plan in 2014, which saw the promotion of natural childbirth as one of the main areas of focus, the rate of caesarean delivery in Iran has seen a 6% decrease.

Before the health reforms, 56% of women opted for caesarean delivery. The c-section rate currently is 49%, a high figure and remains a bone of contention as many women prefer caesarean to natural delivery.

Iran has a long way to go to reach the global standards in natural childbirth. The World Health Organization recommends that the rate of c-section should be 15% of all births.    

Speaking at a conference on the occasion of the International Day of the Midwife (May 5), Mohammad Aghajani, deputy minister of health for treatment,  said promoting natural childbirth, including empowering mothers and midwives and organizing training courses for pregnant women, is the cornerstone of the Health Ministry’s policy, IRNA reported.

Creating specialized hospital units for natural deliveries where the role of the midwife is significant, and optimizing the existing ones, are measures by the ministry aimed at safe childbirths. Natural deliveries create a distinct identity for midwifery, he said.

“Around 366 specialized delivery wards have been created in hospitals across the country and 856 existing units will be upgraded soon,” said the official hoping that the target of 1,770 units will be reached before the current Iranian year is out in March 2017.

A first step towards encouraging natural childbirth is that they are free at all state hospitals.

“Since the implementation of health reforms, 800,000 natural births, free of charge, have been carried out which has been particularly beneficial for women in the underprivileged regions,” said Aghajani.

Public awareness programs to promote the natural process will be pursued more seriously this year.

Aghajani also pointed to the shortage of midwives. An unprecedented 2,160 new midwifes will be employed in hospitals covered by the Health Ministry by the end of the Persian month of Ordibehesht (April 20-May 20), he said.   The ministry also plans to harness the capacity of private midwives by contracting and employing them in university hospitals.