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An arguments in favor and against support for the midwifery profession

Background

Are midwives valued for the job they do? Off the record aims to provide a forum for open discussion of issues of importance to midwifery. Approximately 30 midwives are polled on a topic and the results are then presented in this feature.

Participants represent all ages and areas of the profession, and in order to encourage free debate all responses are anonymous. Midwives are valued by a good proportion of women because they recognise that they provide a service during an important stage of their lives.

To value midwives, it is necessary to understand the nature of their role — giving women-centred care, responding to the needs of individual families and having an appreciation of the social model of care.

In the UK the situation is thankfully very different. The hard work, consummate professionalism and tireless dedication of countless midwives have secured them unrivalled respect.

Midwives remain highly valued and there has never been a better time to take forward new initiatives to guarantee our place in the hearts and minds of new parents everywhere.

They are valued by women and their partners, but there should be more emphasis on training midwives to guide women through the benefits available to them. This depends who is asking the question.

Off the record:Are midwives valued for the job they do?

From the NHS hierarchy perspective midwives are not valued, but viewed as a risk. Women will often sympathise with the difficult conditions in which midwives work and sadly tolerate unsatisfactory care. Women might value midwives more if there were more of us and care was one-to-one, improving the overall experience.

Midwives are not valued for the job they do,mainly because the profession has lost its focus for what they are trained to do. We are too wrapped-up in academia and technology rather than using basic clinical skills, common sense and perception to influence care — this detracts from the contact time spent with a woman and her family.

Mothers also have unrealistic expectations of childbirth brought on by society today — there was a time when to have a happy, healthy baby was enough, now it is fitted into a window of opportunity in a woman's life. Government bodies and management do not value us nor the relentless work we undertake. How will anyone else value us if we do not value ourselves?

Midwives are definitely not valued, but we are our own worst enemies and allow ourselves to be devalued. Whether this is because we are an all-female profession or because vestiges of the old culture where we were treated as if we didn't matter still persist I'm not sure. We are, at times, so horrible to our midwife colleagues that I wonder why they remain — probably to pay the mortgage.

Media hype, medical advances and the expectations of society have contributed to a false belief that anything is assessable and achievable.

I do not believe midwives are valued either by the government or Trusts who have their own agenda to attain worthless targets and be accountable only to the tier above rather than to those below at grass roots, who take the emotional burden of an under-resourced profession, all in the pursuit of improving budget deficits. If it were, midwives would be paid a salary similar to that of a senior house officer.

  • Some days I do feel valued, especially by the women I am caring for and their families;
  • They are valued by women and their partners, but there should be more emphasis on training midwives to guide women through the benefits available to them;
  • As such laws became enacted in each country, for the most part, they included a conscience clause which permitted opting out of providing such services on conscience grounds [ 4 ];
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance;
  • If you look at investing in midwifery, investing in one midwife is investing in three human lives.

In the workplace we are not valued for the job we do. Staff shortages mean midwives have to work overtime to compensate for lack of staff and new screening tests mean more paperwork, sometimes to the detriment of having enough time to really give the good care that women need.

Debating the midwife profession

Midwives feel least valued by management — they are simply a number on the off-duty, but then managers themselves are swimming in mud. They are valued as a workforce, bums-on-seats, names-onpay- sheets, but not in realisation of the actual work they do.

In Afghanistan where I work, the number of registered midwives reflects the lack of value put on them — fewer than 500 in a population of more than 20 million. A young friend wanted to change from radiology training to midwifery: On the other hand, is it the midwives or the women in childbirth who are not valued? My response depends on what kind of shift I have had and to whom it relates. Some days I do feel valued, especially by the women I am caring for and their families.

Other days, particularly after a hectic shift, where the wards are understaffed and you get no thanks for all the good things you have done, and only criticism for something you may have missed, I would say no, I do not feel valued for the job I do.