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English Midwives' Views and Experiences of Intrapartum Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring in Women at Low Obstetric Risk: Conflicts and Compromises

Authors

  • Carol Hindley RM, MSc,

    Corresponding author
    1. Carol Hindley, RM, MSc, ADM, Certified Editor, is a full-time lecturer in midwifery in the School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Social Work, University of Manchester. She devised the project, gained external funding, gathered and analyzed the data, and managed the project.
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  • Sophie Wren Hinsliff RM, MPhil,

    1. Sophie Wren Hinsliff, RM, MPhil, is currently employed as a part-time clinical midwife. At the time of the project, she was the full-time research assistant who helped with data gathering and analysis.
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  • Ann M. Thomson RM, MSc, MTD

    1. Ann M. Thomson, RM, MSc, ADM, MTD, is a professor in Midwifery in the School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Social Work, University of Manchester. Professor Thomson supervised the project and helped analyze the data.
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Carol Hindley, RM, MSc, ADM, Cert Ed, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Manchester, 5th Floor, Gateway House, Piccadilly South, Manchester M60 7LP, UK. E-mail: carol.hindley@manchester.ac.uk

Abstract

Over the last 20 years in the United Kingdom, midwives have implemented the routine use of intrapartum fetal monitoring regardless of the risk status of laboring women. This practice is at odds with the published research. The discrepancy between practice and best evidence merits further investigation. A qualitative study was conducted to evaluate midwives'attitudes and experiences about the use of fetal monitoring for women at low obstetric risk. Fifty-eight midwives working in two hospitals in the north of England were interviewed by using a semistructured approach. The taped interviews were transcribed and analyzed by using a general thematic approach. Issues included midwives'perceptions of low-risk status, the socialization of midwives, and the loss of woman-centered care. Midwives subscribed to the notion of woman-centered care, but because of a complexity of factors experienced in their daily working lives, they felt vulnerable when attempting to implement evidence-based fetal monitoring practices. Midwives regretted the loss of a woman-centered approach to care when technologic methods of intrapartum fetal heart rate monitoring were used indiscriminately. An appreciation of the complex factors affecting the ability of midwives to implement evidence-based practice is important when attempting to facilitate the development of appropriate fetal monitoring practices for women at low obstetric risk.

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