Birth matters. Not all of us will give birth, but each of us has been born. The living processes of conception, gestation, labor, birth, and becoming a newborn human being constitute precious miracles of mythic proportions that happen only once, ever, and can never be redone. And they impact how our lives will unfold.
But these innate processes are in peril. Why? Because most births in the USA occur in institutions where dollars drive decisions, value is based on volume of billable hours, and women's bodies are vulnerable to medical control. For the 4 million women in the USA who give birth every year, not only is the American maternity care system not providing optimal, safe, high-quality, cost-effective care, it is actually harming many of them.
The USA has the highest rate of maternal mortality among developed nations, and in a study of the 28 wealthiest countries in the world, the US had the highest infant mortality rate. A racial division that begins at birth with disparities in access and unequal provision of healthcare characterizes how an infant born in the US will fare.
There is an evidence-based and immediate way to address unnecessary disparities, mortality, morbidity, dissatisfaction, dehumanization, and excessive costs in maternal and infant healthcare. The evidence is clear both in the US and globally: where women have greater access to midwives, they and their infants fare better.
The Midwife Matrix: Reclaiming Our Bodies, Our Births, and Our Lives pushes us to ask provocative questions about the for-profit American healthcare machine, and offers a hopeful alternative in which people who give birth are empowered with the knowledge they need to make informed choices about their reproductive health.
Geradine Simkins, a lifelong midwife and social justice activist, offers a blend of statistics, stories and cultural narratives that highlight a model she has envisioned. Her model, The Midwife Matrix, encodes twelve vital qualities that interact together in an unending loop, each quality as important as the next. The 12 essential qualities are: context, content, holism, nature, sacred, relationship, compassion, self-determination, service, activism, courage, and lineage.
The Midwife Matrix is a call to action to bring our best selves to the task of revolutionizing a healthcare system that is profoundly failing. It provides a blueprint to improve outcomes, address racial and ethnic disparities, reduce costs, ensure equity, and increase satisfaction. Each reader is invited to step up in creating sustainable systems and sustainable communities that support, not destroy, the web of life, the planet on which we live, and the bodies, minds, and spirits of the Earth's living beings.
The Midwife Matrix is a doable, sustainable, replicable model. The stories woven throughout this book depict how the 12 essential qualities work in real-life, and leave no doubt that these qualities are foundational to a compassionate and sustainable future. These interconnected qualities form a matrix for changing hearts, changing minds, changing policies, and quite possibly, changing the world.