How Can We Make Childbirth a Better Experience for Mothers?

What problems do women experience during labor/childbirth? How can midwives ensure a better experience for mothers?

Although childbirth experiences differ for every woman, labor can cause extreme menstrual cramps, discomfort, and pain. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), complications women can experience are labor not progressing, perineal tears, a baby's abnormal heart rate, perinatal asphyxia, early water breakage, excessive bleeding, and shoulder dystocia.

A 2014 research study published in the National Library of Medicine highlights that women in delivery rooms have negative experiences, including uncaring midwives, anxiety, fear, suppressive feelings, lack of safety, emotional distress, and low-quality tools/equipment used for childbirth.

While every woman has the right to access and receive high-quality healthcare in a dignified and respectful manner, a study shows that women experience disrespectful and abusive treatment during childbirth in midwifery centers of facilities. These include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Non-confidential care
  • Non-consented care
  • Verbal abuse
  • Discrimination based on color/ethnicity
  • Abandonment of care
  • Inexperienced midwives
  • Low-quality equipment

Midwives and doctors must maintain confidentiality and privacy during labor and childbirth, respect the woman in labor and her childbirth companion, show support and encourage the mother, and properly communicate to explain everything before and during birth.

Today's article will discuss a few ways midwives can make children a better experience for mothers.

Structure Curricula & Design Learning Activities

According to the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), educators and educational institutions must restructure curricula and design evidence-based learning activities. The purpose is to enable students to improve their knowledge, develop skills, and enhance behaviors incorporated within all competencies. A 2022 study highlights these competencies:

  1. Health assessment of a pregnant woman and the developing baby:
    1. Promotion of overall health and wellbeing
    2. Diagnosis or identification of complications during pregnancy
    3. Caring for the pregnant woman with an unintended pregnancy
  2. Health assessment and care of a woman during labor:
    1. Facilitating physiological processes to ensure a safe birth
    2. Immediate care for the newly born child
    3. Detection, analysis, and management of complications in mother and baby
  3. Continuing the mother and infant's health assessment via:
    1. Health education
    2. Breastfeeding support
    3. Complications identification
    4. Family planning provision and related services

Educators must organize these competencies into a framework and focus on general competencies, pre-pregnancy, antenatal, labor, birth, and postnatal. These competencies will enable midwifery students to promote:

  • Autonomy to practice within the scope of midwifery standards in all settings
  • Midwives' role is to support physiological wellbeing and normal birth
  • Uphold human rights, ensure informed consent for the pregnant women
  • Incorporate evidence-based practices during labor and childbirth
  • Prevent unnecessary interventions and streamline communication
  • Assess, diagnose, act, consult, and refer as needed
  • Carefully carry out emergency consultations and interventions

Incorporate VR Simulation in Learning

Cutting-edge technologies can transform midwifery education, improve competencies/skills, and ensure evidence-based and informed practices. For instance, high-fidelity simulation provides a realistic outward appearance.

It mimics an actual patient with physical findings, such as breath sounds, pulse, heart rate, lung sounds, bowel functions, etc. Depending on the technology level, manikins attached to a computer can mimic more signs and symptoms of various medical conditions related to pregnancy, labor, and childbirth.

On the other hand, virtual reality is a cost-effective and convenient solution for midwifery educational institutions and teaching and learning processes in clinical settings. VR simulation provides massive opportunities for academic and medical midwives.

A 2019 study highlights that VR simulations provide midwives with data presentation that combines the virtual and real world, making it efficient, reliable, and convenient for midwifery students to see, recognize and perform evidence-based practices.

In another study published in Science Direct, learning media in midwifery education is the best tool to streamline teaching and learning, allowing students to improve clinical skills and practice evidence-based methods in an immersive environment before providing direct care to patients.

Integrating VR simulations in midwifery education reduces errors and encourages midwives to make informed decisions while providing care to patients in the actual clinical settings. VR is a cutting-edge tool, enabling midwives to resolve complex issues and experience unique, realistic, and practical solutions.

Therefore, learning media based on VR simulation can increase students' confidence, competence, and skill. According to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), technology integrated within VR simulation must align with nursing and midwifery curricula and learning standards. The purpose is to:

  • Develop leadership skills
  • Enhance teamwork
  • Improve decision-making
  • Ensure critical thinking
  • Reduce errors and mistakes
  • Support mothers and infants

Streamline Communication During Labor

A 2021 study shows that maintaining communication with the woman and her companion during labor is essential to informing the potential mother about everything that happens during the process. Midwifery educators must develop evidence-based curricula to teach students about streamlining communication with the patient and her companion.

For example, this may include learning materials on how to carry out the procedure, seeking permission and informed consent, communication, respect, and support. The purpose is to educate midwives to discuss measurements/results/implications with the pregnant woman during labor and keep her informed about the progress. So, communication competencies integrated into the curricula is mandatory.

Encourage Support and Reassurance

A 2017 research study emphasizes the significance of educating midwives to encourage support, empathy, and reassurance. It aims to educate students to develop skills and support pregnant women during labor and childbirth.

Bear in mind that pregnant women positively respond to encouragement, empathy, and support. On the other hand, midwives who discourage pregnant women can lead to complications, meaning the patient may not endure her labor efficiently and reliably.

Therefore, competencies related to support and reassurance must be integrated into the curricula. For example, evidence-based practices on pushing during labor, giving advice, keeping the women in bed, and administering medications are necessary for midwives/students to streamline childbirth.

Final Words

Women experience different issues and complications during labor and childbirth. Although some of these are health-related problems, others are due to midwives' mistakes/errors, lack of communication, poor skills in handling labor, low-quality equipment, etc.

Midwifery education faces numerous challenges to meeting curriculum requirements and incorporating evidence-based, practical, more accessible, repetitive learning/practicing in the learning environment.

However, the above strategies can optimize the curricula and allow midwifery educational institutions to implement evidence-based and technology-rich teaching and learning methods. Contact us today or discover the latest articles on our blog to learn about VR simulation in medical education.

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