Midwives raise awareness of their role

Midwives stressed the importance of their role in assisting women during low-risk pregnancies.

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DUBAI // Midwives across the country yesterday highlighted what they say is their essential role in providing care to pregnant women.

A panel of speakers discussed a range of issues including global standards for midwifery education, implementing midwifery-led care for healthy women in a medically dominated environment and the midwife's essential role in promoting normal births and reducing stress on pregnant women.

The Midwifery Conference at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, which concludes today, is part of the Obs-Gyne Exhibition and Congress 2011.

"It is really important that midwifery practice is informed and supported by evidence, and that is what we are trying to provide for the betterment of women and their families," said Judith Brown, an international consultant of midwifery in Dubai. "This conference is about education and having better-informed midwives."One of the main challenges that midwives face both in the UAE and in the region is a lack of understanding about their role.

Dr Grace Edwards, the clinical programme manager and assistant director of nursing at Corniche Hospital in Abu Dhabi, stressed the important role that midwives play.

"One of the things that we are trying to promote is the role of the midwife as the expert in normal births ... so that we will be there for the majority of women who have normal births and be able to support them in a way that is more holistic and women-centred," said Dr Edwards.

Another challenge is the lack of a common code of practice and support for midwives.

"The UAE Nursing and Midwifery Council will help with that because it will be across all of the Emirates and will get rid of some of the disparity," said Dr Edwards. "If we set the standards across all the Emirates for what we see as being an international definition of a midwife, then we will be able to use that model and to transfer it to both public and private hospitals."

Joyce Thompson, professor emerita at the University of Pennsylvania and Western Michigan University in the US, told of the importance of a partnership between midwives and physicians.

"The ideal partnership is that you have the midwife, who is the expert and is educated in normal birth, working with the obstetrician, who is the expert in high-risk birth," she said. "It should not be a competition; it should be a collaboration."