x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Midwives lost in medical knowledge gap

Despite a drive to introduce specially trained midwives into hospitals, the concept remains alien to most Emiratis, a survey has revealed.

ABU DHABI // Despite a drive to introduce specially trained midwives into hospitals, the concept remains alien to most Emiratis, a survey has revealed. "The concept of a midwife is not one that people understand here," said Grace Edwards, the midwifery research and development specialist at Al Wasl Hospital in Dubai. "I found that younger women had no idea what a midwife was.

"The older generation say they used to have midwives, but they had all gone. They wanted to know what had happened to them." In a survey of 368 pregnant women, Ms Edwards found that 51 per cent of respondents incorrectly thought a midwife could not work "without direct supervision from a doctor". Fifty per cent believed only a doctor could deliver a baby. "Most women have perfectly normal births, the way nature intended," she said. "The role of a midwife is to be an expert in normal birth, while a doctor is an expert in abnormal birth. They work together. The midwife leads a normal birth, but if there are complications, she'd get the doctor."

She said there were many advantages to giving birth under a midwife's care. Births tend to have fewer complications and lower Caesarian rates, and are associated with lower costs, she said. "It is more economical and it is also a better use of resources," Ms Edwards said. "It is better for midwives to use their skills, so doctors are needed only for emergencies. "The two systems should complement each other perfectly."

However, 50 per cent of respondents said their families would be alarmed if they received the care of a midwife. Dr Husnia Gargash, a obstetrician and gynaecologist who runs a clinic in Dubai, said it was important that people understood that midwives are experts in their field. "They are trained professionals and they are extremely good," she said. "If we train midwives, then doctors would normally have no need to deliver babies. "Why should doctors waste their time on normal deliveries?" @Email:amcmeans@thenational.ae