We are a small team of midwifery and health service researchers from universities in London, Stirling, and Aberdeen who are interested in improving women’s care in early labour. We want to understand more about how maternity care staff interact with pregnant women and their birth companions in the early stages of labour when a woman is at ‘term’ (37+0-41+6 weeks of pregnancy). We are currently preparing an application for funding to carry out a study on this important topic and would really like to hear your views on our proposed approach.
In the “Your views!” post below, you can find a summary of our research plans and some questions that we hope you will help us answer. It would be great if you could share your thoughts and comments in the box you will find below the blog posts.
The early stages of labour are an important phase in a woman’s pregnancy care. The contacts with health care staff and decisions that take place during this phase can affect a woman’s whole experience of labour and also its clinical management. This is partly because it is difficult sometimes to confirm when labour has started in an individual woman and to decide the best timing for the woman to be admitted to a maternity unit or labour ward (if she is not planning a home birth) for her labour and birth care.
We know from previous research that women often feel uncertain and need reassurance about the start of labour. We also know that NHS maternity services sometimes fail to meet women’s needs and expectations at this time. We therefore want to carry out a new research study to understand in some depth how interactions between maternity care staff, pregnant women who seek their advice when they think their labour has started and their birth companions, affect women’s experiences of giving birth and caring for their new baby.
Our plan is to talk with pregnant women and their partners (or other birth companions), before and after their baby is born, to ask them about their views and expectations of labour and birth, the content and value of any information received from antenatal education, their experiences of care during the early stages of labour, and their thoughts about these experiences.
As well as speaking to women and their birth companions, we also want to speak to midwives and other healthcare staff about their experiences of providing care to women when they are in early labour. Following this we will bring midwives and other health care staff, women and their birth companions together to share their stories about early labour care and ideas on how we could improve women’s experiences.
We also hope to observe the communication between women and midwives when women think labour may have started.
Labour is a sensitive time, and we want to make sure that what we propose is acceptable to women and staff. While we are still designing our study, we would like to hear your views on our plans. For example:
- would you feel happy sharing your story about your early labour with a researcher?
- would you feel comfortable with a researcher being in the clinical area when you contacted the maternity unit when you thought labour had started?
We would welcome your thoughts and comments about our research plans – just click on ‘leave a comment’. And please don’t forget to tell us whether you are a pregnant woman, a mother, a birth companion or a member of NHS staff!