Nursing Essay Example

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Midwives Strategies towards Promoting Breastfeeding

Midwifery is a profession in the health care sector which is concerned with providing specialized care to childbearing women during the period of their pregnancy, birth and labor. The personnel or practitioners concerned with providing this care are referred to as midwives. Midwives offer care for the women during the postpartum period. They also provide care for the new born babies and assist mothers who have just delivered with breastfeeding. Midwifery is done by both men and women but in most societies, women make the majority of midwives. The general aim of midwifery is to provide specialized care to women during the period of pregnancy and during birth (Dykes, 2006). In some special instances, midwives are also concerned with the provision of primary care to women in regard to reproductive health, family planning, menopausal care and gynecological care. Breastfeeding has usually been assumed to be a very simple and naturally occurring task. Research shows
(Dykes, 2006) that most people do not know the importance of promoting and protecting breastfeeding. This therefore makes many people to neglect the role of midwives in promoting and protecting breastfeeding. If breastfeeding is not done under proper and hygienic conditions, then it might present serious health complications to both the breastfeeding mother and the child. With this in mind, the role of midwives in breastfeeding should not be ignored. They are trained to use employ many methods in promoting and protecting breastfeeding. This essay critically discusses the strategies that midwives can employ to promote and protect breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding should be taken seriously because during the first six months of an infant’s life, the only thing that the infant feeds on is the mother’s milk. During this time, the infant cannot be fed on other solid foods. They only need the healthy breast milk from their mothers. Breastfeeding therefore has to be handled with a lot of care so as to ensure that it is safe, hygienic and healthy. Breastfeeding should also be promoted and protected to ensure that an infant is well and hygienically fed. This is where the midwives come in. they play a major role in ensuring the safety and promotion of breastfeeding (Auerbach, 2003). Midwives are independent health care practitioners who specialize in ensuring that pregnancies are of low risk. Their main aim is to help women to have a natural birth experience and a healthy pregnancy. They are usually trained to identify, recognize and handle any problem or deviation from the normal that may occur during and after pregnancy. Midwives are taught to only intervene when necessary. They might not have very deep knowledge like the obstetricians and other general practitioners. They therefore deal with general issues that may arise during and after pregnancy. Midwives sometimes send women to professional obstetricians and other general practitioners. This is especially so when the pregnant women require extra professional care that goes beyond the knowledge of the midwife. Midwives therefore work together with the other professionals to provide specialized care to pregnant women (Auerbach, 2003).

Midwives are well trained to deal with more difficult deliveries such as twin births, births where the babies are posterior and breech births among others. They do all this using techniques that are non-invasive. The advantages that come with midwives include the option for natural births, reduced morbidity and mortality, fewer recovery complications, lower rates of intervention, and lower costs of maternity care (Dykes, 2005). Twins affect breastfeeding because the mother has to supply adequate milk for two infants, and not one.

According to the international journal of breastfeeding, the valid and reliable tools for assessing infant feeding knowledge and lactation are very few. There was a study conducted in October 2001 to assess the breastfeeding knowledge of midwives in Australia. It found that midwives who had personal breastfeeding experience had more knowledge concerning the promotion and protection of breastfeeding (Abbott, 2006).

One strategy that midwives have been using to promote and protect breastfeeding is ensuring that normalcy is maintained during pregnancy and during birth. They know that healthy and undisturbed births lead to natural and healthy breastfeeding. The normalcy is created through ensuring faster, easier, healthier and more active births. All these practices ensure that mothers are psychologically prepared to handle births and that they are also ready for breastfeeding when the time comes. Midwives strive to reduce the routines and practices that interfere with breastfeeding. They provide individualized and specialized counseling, prenatal care and education (Ekstrom et el, 2006). This is to be done continuously during labor, delivery and after delivery by providing hands-on assistance to the mothers. They also monitor the psychological, social and physical well-being of the expectant mother throughout the cycle of childbearing. Midwives also promote and protect breastfeeding by minimizing the technological interventions during birth and breastfeeding. They prefer to use natural means during the entire childbearing cycle by avoiding the use of recent technologies such as modern machines and equipment. The midwives prefer to use traditional and natural means. When midwives encounter medical situations that require professional intervention that they cannot handle, they refer the women to professional obstetricians who take over the care of these women. Such situations may include those that require surgery. The midwives identify women with serious and unique cases that require special attention. Once this is done, the midwives are responsible for referring these women to professionals for further assistance (Ekstrom et el, 2006).

According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, a survey was conducted on midwife mothers in 2003 in Britain to reveal their personal breastfeeding experiences. The survey revealed that 99% of these midwife mothers had a positive attitude towards breastfeeding. A further 82% of these women stated that they had these positive attitudes because they had successfully managed to breastfeed their very own babies (Flemming, 2000). 66% of the midwives felt that they had been successful in breastfeeding because of the knowledge that they had learnt during the practice. Their theoretical knowledge and personal experiences contributed to the success in the breastfeeding. The strategy that these midwives use is to identify the problems that contribute to unsuccessful breastfeeding. Such problems have been identified to include poor milk supply, fatigue and health complications with the breasts. By identifying these problems, they can know the best possible solutions to these problems (Flemming, 2000).

Another strategy that the midwives are using is to advocate the widening of breastfeeding laws. This happened in Great Britain In some regions, it is illegal for women to breastfeed their babies who are more than six months old in public. According to an article that appeared on ‘The Independent’ dated Saturday, 28 June 2008, midwives and other maternity groups have urged the government to make it legal for mothers to breastfeed their babies who are more than six months old in public. The midwives advocated for the protection of women to feed in some public places such as fuel stations, bars and restaurants (Auerbach, 2003). Despite these laws being put in place there have been instances whereby breastfeeding women have been thrown out of public places such as restaurants for breastfeeding their children there. The workers at such restaurants, who throw these women out, claim that they embarrass other customers by breastfeeding in public. This is a gross violation of the rights of these women because the low protects them from being thrown out of such places because of breastfeeding. The British Minister for Women and Equalities, Harriet Harman, has been making numerous plans to make these breastfeeding laws more explicit. This is evident through her forthcoming Bill on equity. The main reason for this is because midwives have been campaigning against the harassment received by women for breastfeeding in public places (Hauck & Irurita, 2003).

The bill is meant to promote and protect women to breastfeed their babies freely without being subjected to embarrassment and harassment. The midwives noted that several women have complained of being harassed by waiters and policemen just for breastfeeding their children. These women need to be protected from such harassment because breastfeeding is not a crime. It is the only healthy and recommended way to feed infants, especially those below six months old (Renfrew et el, 2006). The midwives, with support from the Minister, made it very clear that it was unacceptable for breastfeeding women to be thrown out of public places such as bars, restaurants or public galleries just because they are breastfeeding their babies. Janet Fyle from the Royal College of Midwives noted that the World Health Organization (2006) gave evidence in support of breastfeeding for two years because of the health benefits involved. Women should therefore be allowed to breastfeed their children for as long as they want. It is also difficult for people to tell whether a baby is over six months or not just by looking at them. The midwives also note that these laws are therefore unrealistic and should be done away with. The midwives propose that women should be freely allowed to breastfeed their babies because it is a natural act. The Chief Executive of the National Childbirth Trust, Belinda Phipps, who is also a midwife, said that they find it very ridiculous to have a six month limit to. She notes that there is a two-year limit in Scotland, which is much better as compared to the six-month limit. All in all, they feel that breastfeeding should not have a limit. Women should be allowed to freely breastfeed their children as long as they do not interfere with others. the strategy that has been used is that the women have been given the freedom to breastfeed in public much more than they were allowed to do previously. This has largely promoted breastfeeding (Henderson, Pincombe & Stamp, 2003).

Today, most midwives are campaigning against these laws that prohibit women from breastfeeding their babies in public by using the advantages of breastfeeding as their support. A pediatrician at the Sunderland Royal Hospital, Dr Geoff Lawson, noted that among the benefits of breastfeeding include the social benefits such as helping the mother and child to bond, and boosting the baby’s immunity, optimal growth and optimal brain development (McFadden & Toole, 2006).

Midwives have also employed the strategy of openly communicating the breastfeeding policies and principles. Communication helps to promote breastfeeding by creating awareness about the importance of breastfeeding. It also promotes breastfeeding by advising the women on how they can deal with problems that arise during breastfeeding. They communicate these policies to all health care personnel in relevant institutions who have interactions with pregnant and breastfeeding women. (Renfrew, 2006). Midwifery is also taken as a serious profession in which all practitioners have to undergo some thorough formal training so as to equip them with the basic knowledge and skills that are required when handling pregnant and breastfeeding women. In their training, there are made aware that it is their primary responsibility to support women who are breastfeeding and to provide them with the necessary assistance whenever they will be required to do so. The training involves topics on breastfeeding management that is appropriate for the midwives’ level of expertise (Renfrew, 2006).

In a bid to promote and protect breastfeeding, midwives have also taken to informing the pregnant women of the advantages and importance of breastfeeding. They educate women during their sessions about the importance of managing their breastfeeding. They give all pregnant women the forum and opportunity to discuss infant feeding and breastfeeding one-on-one with them so that they can promote better breastfeeding practices. Research findings reveal that some women have issues with breastfeeding their own babies. They are either afraid of doing so in public because of embarrassment or they are afraid because they believe it will destroy their good bodies. Midwives therefore have to take responsibility over this and promote safe breastfeeding (Wallace & Kasmala-Anderson, 2007).

There have been numerous breastfeeding workshops and parenting education classes that have been organized by midwives. These are meant to provide forums and sessions through which breastfeeding women can come together and openly share and discuss issues affecting them. They can also encourage each other and get professional advice from the midwives concerning the issues that they face when breastfeeding. This helps to promote and protect breastfeeding because the women feel more empowered when they come together and share their experiences.

In conclusion, the role of midwives in promoting and protecting breastfeeding cannot be overlooked. They play an integral duty which is often ignored by many. Midwives have been trained on various strategies that they employ to ensure that breastfeeding is promoted and protected.


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