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Attitudes of student midwives caring for women with perinatal mental health problems

02 October 2014
Volume 22 · Issue 10


Aims: This study aimed to explore the attitudes of student midwives near completion of their midwifery training, in the care of women with mental health problems in the East end of London.

Method: In this exploratory study using qualitative methods, seven student midwives who were near completion of a BSc in midwifery were interviewed in small groups. The data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: Four themes were identified from the interviews: identification and assessment of women, asking women questions about perinatal health, using stereotypes in the care of women, caring for and responding to women with perinatal mental health problems.

Conclusion: These findings are helpful in informing more conclusive research on midwives' training and practice in the care of women with perinatal mental health problems.

Psychiatric illness is one of the leading indirect causes of maternal mortality and maternal morbidity in the UK. A confidential report on the causes of maternal death in the UK suggested a significant number of deaths of women during pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood, are due to suicide (Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries (CMACE), 2011).

Despite the number of women who suffer as a result of maternal psychiatric illness, deficiencies in the care that women receive, in particular from midwives, have been widely reported (McCauley et al, 2011; Jones et al, 2012). There is a suggestion that the training and education midwives receive does not adequately prepare them for caring for women with mental health problems (Ross-Davie, 2006; Jones et al, 2012). Jones et al (2012) found that although midwives were comfortable in questioning women about emotional problems, they were not comfortable, nor did they feel competent in offering women simple techniques to alleviate anxiety and depression. Furthermore, midwives' perceived lack of competence in their ability to care for women often affected their confidence, which in turn influenced motivation and willingness to provide care to women with mental health problems (Jones et al, 2012).

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