Skip to main content

Research Repository

See what's under the surface

Advanced Search

A qualitative exploration of how midwives' and obstetricians' perception of risk affects care practices for low-risk women and normal birth.

Healy, Sandra; Humphreys, Eileen; Kennedy, Catriona

Authors

Sandra Healy

Eileen Humphreys



Abstract

Background: Maternity care is facing increasing intervention and iatrogenic morbidity rates. This can be attributed, in part, to higher-risk maternity populations, but also to a risk culture in which birth is increasingly seen as abnormal. Technology and intervention are used to prevent perceived implication in adverse outcomes and litigation. Question: Does midwives' and obstetricians' perception of risk affect care practices for normal birth and low-risk women in labour, taking into account different settings? Methods: The research methods are developed within a qualitative framework. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and analysed thematically. A purposive sample of 25 midwives and obstetricians were recruited from three maternity settings in Ireland. This included obstetric-led hospitals, an alongside midwifery-led unit and the community. Findings: Midwifery is assuming a peripheral position with regard to normal birth as a progressive culture of risk and medicalisation affects the provision of maternity care. This is revealed in four themes; (1) professional autonomy and hierarchy in maternity care; (2) midwifery-led care as an undervalued and unsupported aspiration; (3) a shift in focus from striving for normality to risk management; and (4) viewing pregnancy through a 'risk-lens'. Discussion: Factors connected to the increased medicalisation of birth contribute to the lack of midwifery responsibility for low-risk women and normal birth. Midwives are resigned to the current situation and as a profession are reluctant to take action. Conclusion: Improved models of care, distinct from medical jurisdiction, are required. Midwives must take responsibility for leading change as their professional identity is in jeopardy.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 31, 2017
Journal Women and birth
Print ISSN 1871-5192
Electronic ISSN 1878-1799
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 5
Pages 367-375
Institution Citation HEALY, S., HUMPHREYS, E. and KENNEDY, C. 2017. A qualitative exploration of how midwives' and obstetricians' perception of risk affects care practices for low-risk women and normal birth. Women and birth [online], 30(5), pages 367-375. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wombi.2017.02.005
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wombi.2017.02.005
Keywords Midwives; Obstetricians; Risk; Medicalisation; Childbirth

Files





You might also like



Downloadable Citations

;