We need to be realistic and realize that this economic situation is likely to repeat in the future, and one way to ensure that we have less of a problem in the future is to find alternatives to the present methods of providing services.
Since Medicaid is a major expense, we might start there.
More than 40 percent of the children born in Washington are covered under Medicaid. It would reduce costs if expectant mothers had access to more midwives and save lives at the same time.
Repeated studies have shown that midwives have lower maternal mortality, lower infant mortality rates, lower rates of cesarean sections and other interventions, than do doctors.
Midwives also cost less.
Prenatal care provided by midwives results in better birth weight, which is important for the child’s long-term growth. This is especially important to the Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and African American communities, where the infant mortality rate is more than twice that of whites in Washington.
In Sweden, 85 percent of children are delivered by midwives and the infant mortality rate is 2.74 per 1,000 live births.
Here in Washington, the infant mortality rate is 5.1 — the lowest in United States — but almost twice that of Sweden and only 10 percent to 15 percent of the births are attended by midwives.
We can do better.