Midwives perception of the intrapartum risk of healthy nulliparae in spontaneous labour, in The Flanders, Belgium
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Midwifery: an international journal. - Manchester
, p. 361-371
Objective to explore midwives perception of intrapartum risk for healthy nulliparous women in spontaneous labour at term of a healthy singleton pregnancy, in the Belgian Flanders, and to compare these results with those of a previous study undertaken in England. Design survey of the care midwives would advocate and their perception of intrapartum risk using a standardised scenario. This study replicates part of a survey undertaken with British midwives (Mead & Kornbrot 2004b). With an added section to capture the particulars of the Belgian situation and explore the likelihood of midwives being fully responsible for the whole intrapartum care of healthy women, including their delivery. The questionnaire was translated into Dutch by MR and distributed by the Flemish Midwives Association (Vlaamse Organisatie van VroedvrouwenVLOV). Participants all 845 midwives and 143 student midwives who were members of VLOV were sent a questionnaire with their invitation to take part in their annual conference. Two hundred and seventy-five midwives and 107 students attended the conference, and 128 questionnaires were returned at the conference: 99 midwives (36% of the attendees), 26 students (24% of attendees), with three unidentified respondents. This convenience sample represented 12% of all midwives and 18% of all students. Analysis SPSS for Windows was used for the statistical analysis. Descriptive statistics were used and differences between categorical variables were analysed using χ2 and Fisher's Exact tests, and differences between continuous variables were analysed by analysis of variance. Findings midwives generally described a more medicalised approach to intrapartum care on admission and during the first stage of labour than their British counterparts, but were much more optimistic about the chances of healthy women in spontaneous labour achieving a normal delivery within 12 hours. However, Belgian midwives had only a limited ability to undertake normal deliveries because of the high proportion of obstetricians who fulfil this responsibility. This contravenes the European Union (EU) directive on the activities of the midwife. Key conclusions despite much greater involvement of obstetricians in the care, of women suitable for full midwifery care, and a more medicalised approach to intrapartum care, the Belgian Flanders have a significantly lower caesarean section rate than the UK. The inability of Belgian midwives to fulfil the activities of the midwives as identified by the EU directives raises questions about the migration of midwives trained in Belgium to other EU member states.