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How prepared are UK midwives for their role in child protection?

02 July 2014
14 min read
Volume 22 · Issue 7

Abstract

This article reviews the UK literature about the extent to which midwives are prepared for their role in child protection in order to identify the evidence and to make recommendations for further research. Findings from the studies reviewed revealed a number of themes related to child protection in midwifery including: midwives perspectives, educational perspectives, multi-agency working and organisational perspectives. The review revealed that there is a dearth of empirical studies in this area with no studies found related to vulnerable groups such as those with mental health problems, learning disabilities, women with problems of substance abuse and teenagers.

Safeguarding and child protection are everyone's responsibility (Fraser and Nolan 2004). During pregnancy, it is primarily the responsibility of the midwife and other professionals who may be providing care, to consider the need for protection of the unborn baby, in relation to the parent's ability to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child (Powell, 2010) and is becoming increasingly a larger part of the midwives' workload. Fraser and Nolan (2004) suggest that many midwives find this unsettling as it may be contrary to their normal role of encouraging and empowering mothers and fathers, especially if they are leaving hospital without their child. Midwives come into contact with many vulnerable groups of people where parenting skills may be influenced by a number of factors such as: learning disability, mental illness, substance or alcohol misuse, being a child themselves or having a previous history of child maltreatment or neglect.

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