In many parts of the world where women don’t have access to hospitals for giving birth, rates of infant and maternal mortality are high. But when traditional birth attendants such as comadronas or doulas are trained in what to do if complications arise, babies are much more likely to survive. That’s the conclusion from a meta-analysis of thirteen trials in developing countries. In the randomized experiments, rates of infant death dropped by nearly one fourth. In addition to training and support, traditional birth attendants need the ability to connect with healthcare professionals in emergencies and need access to clean birth kits and resuscitation equipment. When these are provided, traditional birth attendants can provide culturally acceptable, accessible care to expectant mothers in poor areas.
[BMJ, online Dec. 1, 2011]