Midwifery care during labor and birth in the United States

Joan L. Combellick, Michelle L. Telfer, Bridget Basile Ibrahim, Gina Novick, Erin M. Morelli, Sascha James-Conterelli, Holly P. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The intrapartum period is a crucial time in the continuum of pregnancy and parenting. Events during this time are shaped by individuals’ unique sociocultural and health characteristics and by their healthcare providers, practice protocols, and the physical environment in which care is delivered. Childbearing people in the United States have less opportunity for midwifery care than in other high-income countries. In the United States, there are 4 midwives for every 1000 live births, whereas, in most other high-income countries, there are between 30 and 70 midwives. Furthermore, these countries have lower maternal and neonatal mortality rates and have consistently lower costs of care. National and international evidences consistently report that births attended by midwives have fewer interventions, cesarean deliveries, preterm births, inductions of labor, and more vaginal births after cesarean delivery. In addition, midwifery care is consistently associated with respectful care and high patient satisfaction. Midwife-physician collaboration exists along a continuum, including births attended independently by midwives, births managed in consultation with a physician, and births attended primarily by a physician with a midwife acting as consultant on the normal aspects of care. This expert review defined midwifery care and provided an overview of midwifery in the United States with an emphasis on the intrapartum setting. Health outcomes associated with midwifery care, specific models of intrapartum care, and workforce issues have been presented within national and international contexts. Recommendations that align with the integration of midwifery have been suggested to improve national outcomes and reduce pregnancy-related disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S983-S993
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


  • collaboration
  • community birth
  • health disparities
  • intrapartum care
  • maternal morbidity
  • maternal mortality
  • maternal outcomes
  • maternity care team
  • midwifery
  • midwifery model of care
  • neonatal mortality
  • neonatal outcomes
  • nulliparous term singleton vertex cesarean delivery
  • physiological birth
  • preterm birth
  • vaginal birth
  • vaginal birth after cesarean delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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