The midwife is the recognised and accountable professional whose role is to work in partnership with women to provide the necessary support, care and advice during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. Her role encompasses many facets, including facilitating normal childbirth, enabling women to make informed choices about their care, health promotion and social issues. She must recognise when childbearing falls outside the parameters of normality and secure and participate in appropriate therapies (International Confederation of Midwives 2005). Midwives are considered the experts in normal birth and are fundamental in providing an environment that actively empowers women to feel confident in their ability to labour and birth physiologically. The provision of normal labour care is carried out in a variety of settings and the midwife is accountable for her practice which should be based on the best available current evidence (NMC 2008).
I will be looking at the midwife’s role in the provision of care in the labour ward setting which promotes the normal physiological process of birth and how this can contribute to the health and well being of both mother and baby. There are number of principles of midwifery care that help in the promotion of normal birth, however, due to the constraints of this assignment I have focused on the midwife’s role as a support, her responsibility in monitoring the progress of the labour, encouraging mobility, guiding the woman through second stage and the promotion of skin-to skin following birth.
There are many definitions of normal birth, however most incorporate the concept that labour begins spontaneously between 37 and 42 weeks of completed pregnancy, continues without medical intervention and is a normal physiological process (WHO 1997, Anderson et al 2003, Birth Choice Uk 2005, RCM 2005, Downe 2006). The woman should remain at the centre of care and therefore in control of care choices.
A fundamental aspect of the...