Updates From Across The Pond

By: Maggie Williams

Somehow, IMG_4518during the fifteen-minute walk to the train station this morning, it managed to rain twice. Lovely English weather for you. The past two weeks of my research have been fantastic. I’ve interviewed more midwives than anticipated and learned so much about maternity care in the UK. Unfortunately, doing research with human participants prevents me from being able to share any identifying information or pictures of people, their hospitals, etc. via the blog, but I will try to send as much information as I can!

During the first week of my research, I did a homestay with a lovely midwife and her family. The time spent with this family not only introduced me to many aspects of British culture that I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise, but also created opportunities for candid conversations about midwifery—the rewarding aspects, the challenges, the huge responsibilities, and the need to always be adaptable. Of course, these are topics I address in my interviews, but sharing interesting stories doesn’t come quite as naturally in a bare conference room as it does over a cup of tea. During the week, I also had the opportunity to tour the maternity unit of the local hospital. Although the physical layout of the unit is similar to units I’ve seen in the US, there are certainly points of difference, many of them pertaining to midwifery-led care. Several of the midwives whom I spoke with here discussed the multidisciplinary nature of their work and the need to work as a team with doctors, nurses, maternity care assistants, and other healthcare providers. It will be interesting to see how teamwork is similar or different in the US—whether you will have different players, different dynamics among them, etc.

During the second week, I’ve been traveling to some semi-rural parts of the country to see how midwifery practice compares to larger cities. In the conversations I’ve had, people have mentioned that in rural places, midwives typically must cover a larger catchment area than midwives in urban areas—meaning they have to travel further to make home visits or to transfer a patient to a tertiary care center. However, one of the benefits is that with a smaller population, midwives in rural areas may have more time to spend with their patients than midwives in large cities who must adhere to a tight schedule in order to care for all of their patients. While these are only cursory comparisons, I hope as I interview more people that some patterns I’ve noticed will become even more apparent.

Later this week, I’ll travel to London for more interviews. Hopefully I’ll send another blog post from there! Thanks for reading!