Midwives' voices need to be heard in the safeguarding discussion
Midwives meet women at a crucial stage of life, and can influence a child's wellbeing before it has been born. Michael Sanders and Louise Reid explain how midwives can help safeguard children
There is a growing recognition that safeguarding and protection of young people needs practitioners and professionals to reach beyond the borders of their traditional roles and work together. Without better collaboration and information-sharing, young people and families can slip between the cracks, failing to get the support they need.
While there is broad agreement on this, much of the focus has been on adolescents—with interventions that aim to prevent childhood sexual or criminal exploitation, provide better services for care leavers, and stop serious youth violence. These areas are important, and there is cause to be pleased that they are now getting more attention and funding.
However, this focus on a particular cohort of young people and particular professions such as social workers, teachers and the police, risks missing the opportunity to help and support families earlier in life, and perhaps even to change their future path.
Midwives are the among the first professionals to come into contact with children and their mothers—before children have even taken their first breath. As trusted health professionals who are dedicated to ensuring the healthy birth of a child, midwives build strong relationships with mothers and their partners throughout pregnancy and birth. Midwifery offers as close as is possible to a universal service for unborn and newborn children, especially those who have the most complex needs.
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