Cathy Ashwin, Editor, MIDIRS Midwifery Digest
Welcome to this month’s midwifery blog. Myself and Michelle Anderson (Essentially MIDIRS editor) hope to bring you all the latest news and events happening in the world of midwifery, and welcome your feedback and ideas.
This month we have been busy preparing to attend one of the most exciting dates in the midwifery calendar – the International Congress of Midwives (ICM), to be held in Prague 1-5th June. I shall be there throughout the week and look forward to meeting many of you as both subscribers and contributors to MIDIRS.
The ICM is such an inspiring and motivational event, bringing together midwives from all over the globe sharing and exchanging best practice, education, research and new innovative ideas which contribute to improving the health and care of women and their families wherever they may live in the world.
The latest edition of the Digest is packed with topical issues that will ignite your interest and give focus to debate and discussion amongst the readers, beginning with the ‘Hot Topic’ written by one of our eminent midwives and her daughter – Sheena and Anna Byrom.
In their article, the topic of maximising the use of social media to potentially enhance the care we give and the safety of women in childbirth is discussed. Inequalities in health are not just confined to the developing countries, through various forms of communication we are also made aware of the discrepancies in health care for childbearing women in the UK and other European countries.
However, the technological platforms can be used to the advantage of most communities, voices can be heard and sharing of knowledge can take place. I think one of the positive aspects of such advances is the hierarchy that has existed in the past is removed and everyone has a voice, whether health professional or recipient of maternity services. Women (and men) can virtually meet to form friendships, gain advice or simply to exchange ideas.
Education also benefits from online technology and remote learning can take place through online forums and podcasts, for example. The ICM also benefits from the use of social media reaching out to midwives who may be unable to attend the event in person.
We at MIDIRS are committed to keeping abreast of social media through our website, Facebook and Twitter; further developments are to be able to offer the publications in a digital format with the aim of reaching out to more people. Social media is here to stay it should be embraced and used to full advantage for the benefit of the women and their families. It also can provide a robust support network for midwives and student midwives to discuss contemporary issues in the field.
Traditional Birth Attendants
Another pertinent article in this issue is the role of the Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA), and this has been featured in the Worldwide Maternity section of the journal. Here, Greatrex-White and Monaghan (2014) explore the nature and impact of the TBA role on maternal mortality rates throughout pregnancy, labour and the post-natal period in sub-Saharan Africa by means of an extensive literature review.
It has been demonstrated that maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa has not reduced at the same rate as other areas of the world. The fifth Millennium Development Goal target was to reduce the maternal mortality rate by 75% in 2015, which may not be fully achieved. It has been suggested that one of the problems in reducing maternal mortality is that untrained health workers such as the TBA are with women during childbirth as a result of a shortage of skilled health workers.
The study concluded that far more work needs to be undertaken to fully understand the complex issues surrounding maternal mortality and the role of the TBA. Women’s choice of birth attendant must also be considered alongside the educational status of both women and TBA, the geography, economic and political influences which all impact on the statistical evidence presented.
Respect and care for women covers all countries and cultures, Munro et al bring our attention to this notion in their timely open disclosure article. This paper was written in Ireland, but the thoughts and recommendations echo the earlier Francis report of 2013, produced in light of poor care in hospitals in England. We should be open and honest at all times and treat women with dignity and compassion, demonstrating competency and caring if errors do occur then acknowledgement, openness and honesty should be paramount.
Referring back to the concept of social media, news of untoward incidents travels at speed, but can be utilised to ensure that transparency prevails, lessons are learnt and knowledge can be disseminated.
This blog is just a brief introduction to some of the articles we have in the Digest, there is much more to read there and in Essentially MIDIRS. I do hope we get the chance to discuss further during the ICM and also to be energised by the amazing work presented by the midwives there.
By meeting, sharing ideas and spreading the word back home, we as midwives can truly support each other and the women we provide care for, with renewed enthusiasm and dedication.