Friday, February 22, 2008

Student midwives working with women

Following my last couple of posts which gave advice to student midwives about dealing with academic and clinical work, I was interested in what advice the general public would suggest. So I asked my Twitter network what they thought was important for student midwives to remember when they worked with women and their families.

The crunch of the replies was that the ability to communicate was vital. Students (and midwives, for that matter) must work in partnership with women. This means never talking down to women or using language that cannot be understood. It also means being empathetic, non-judgmental and understanding of the experiences of women.

Thank you to those who replied to my Twitter request.

What do you think? What do you think are the important aspects of communication that student midwives need to remember?

Image: 'Clouds of the Sun'


Kate said...

I think non-verbal communication is really important too, and to be aware of your body language and how it may come across to the family/mother. I remember in my last labour, I was really exhausted and ready to transfer to hospital (home birth transfer), and I saw my midwives exchange a glance... probably no one else noticed it.. maybe it was that I was a nurse and I picked up on their vibe, but it was that moment that I knew they were worried, and I knew I was about to give my consent to go to hospital, even though it was NOT where I wanted to birth. (And in the end, my daughter was born en route anyway, lol!)

Sarah Stewart said...

Great point, Kate - thanks. I would add that the ability to build an instant rapport is important. One way to do this is to pick a generic topic to talk about that will help you connect with people immediately. For example, I always let women know I am a mother and with men, I always talk about sport, usually rugby. That really helps to break the ice, I find.

Carolyn said...

Good points here Sarah. Our first year midwifery students have just had their firs class which is a communication workshop and covers these important aspects of communication. Being able to freely communicate is so critical to the relationship between the woman and the midwife.

It is also very important that health professionals can communicate with one another in an open and respectful way. when this involves the care of a woman she should be part of and privy to this communication also. Often I think this is where communication really falls down.

Sarah Stewart said...

Yes, I agree totally Carolyn. This inter-professional communication is soemthing that we (midwives and obstetricians/paediatricians) fall down on very badly in my experience.

rae said...

I think one of the most importnant things is to facilitate feedback on your performance (be inviting of it) and also to be really open and receptive to feedback. Thats where the learning occurs and if we do that the learning will come.

rae said...

I agree sarah re inter-professional communication - it is something we all have to take individual responsibility for and when we let ourselves down by communicating inappropriately - we need to have the insight to recognise that, the reflective capacity to identify the reason why so we can change the pattern and then put it right - ie go back and address it or own responsibility for it. We also need to care enough about the well being of others to feel bad about the impact we may have had on them.

Sarah Stewart said...

What I just can't get my head around is this: why are we [midwives, obstetricians & pediatricians] so objectionable to our colleagues at times, yet we would never even think of being that way with friends, family, checkout girl etc? What is it that turns us into such monsters in the hospital work environment?

rae said...

I don' know if I think it is that common place. I know it happens - i've heard the stories but to be honest haven't experienced it that much in practice - apart from the odd short lived random moment. Nothing ongoing or personal.
From what i've heard I think it may be down to difficulty in understanding difference and power struggle.
I think you have to build the world you want to live in.