What midwifery research means to me: a reflection

By Student Midwife Enitan Taiwo on 06 May 2021

Research forms the basis of evidence-based practice and it is important that within midwifery we continue to question why things are done the way they are in order to improve upon current standards.

It should enable us to apply empirical evidence to clinical practice which helps us to deliver optimal high-quality care, thus providing better outcomes to our patients. As a student midwife, I believe that research is essential for the development and growth within our industry. Thanks to research, delayed cord clamping has proven to be effective in stabilizing iron deficiency in babies while maintaining effective haemoglobin levels. The opportunities to improve methods of practice helps to draw attention to necessary issues while amplify voices that need to be brought to the forefront of agendas now more than ever.

The recent study by MBRRACE (2020) revealed that during childbirth Black women are estimated to be four times more likely to experience morbidity and mortality during the perinatal period in contrast to their white counterparts. This study revealed that both further qualitative research is necessary to address some alarming gaps in maternal mortality, and to explore our health institution and its response to the needs of ethnic minorities. Some of the most critical findings from the MBRRACE report suggested that the main causes of maternal death related to cardiac issues. This suggest that work needs to be done to ensure the safety needs for Black mothers and their babies.

In general, there is a significant gap in the availability of research and literature focused on ethnic minorities and evidence suggests that, as a result, healthcare disparities among ethnic minorities are widening. In addition, practitioners need to be aware of different cultures and modes of address to help elevate the needs of women from diverse backgrounds. This extends into the need for appropriate care to meet culturally specific dimensions for improved delivery. We must be intentional in the topics we research about as they relate to our entire population or risk the lives of future women and children.

Our methods of conducting research should also be questioned as some knowledge can only be gained from rich qualitative research that considers the perspectives that are ethnographic in nature. Using grounded theory may help to correlate information across data streams while selected research methodologies can open up new knowledge that may have been overlooked in a quantitative study.

Researchers must also reflect the diversity of the population that they are serving, and this is where I see my future in this practice. According to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) (2019) 25 per cent of midwives are within ethnic minorities in the UK yet the most current evidence by the NHS (2017) states that only two per cent of nurses and midwives are in senior roles.

These findings highlight the needs within my own community that inspire me to explore further in order to propel the practice further. It is clear that diverse practitioners and inclusive research will only strengthen our communities, it is vitally important that researchers are more mindful of communities that they serve.