• birth technology;
  • survey;
  • midwives;
  • CTGs;
  • electronic foetal monitoring;
  • training

Midwives’ perceptions of the use of technology in assisting childbirth in Northern Ireland

Aim of the paper. The aim of this paper is to report a survey of midwives’ views on the use of technology in assisting births.

Background. The research was designed to provide a deeper understanding of the integration of technology into midwives’ practice and to identify and examine aspects of training needs.

Methods. Over 400 midwives responded to a questionnaire seeking information on their experiences and perceived competence with labour ward technology, with a particular focus on the use of cardiotocograph machines (CTGs) for electronic foetal monitoring. The survey sought views on the extent to which midwives trust the technology, their perceived levels of training and competence, their awareness of policy relating to technological intervention and the issue of women’s choice in whether the progress of their delivery is technologically monitored.

Findings. The majority of midwives in this survey trust the use of technology but have concerns about issues of safety in relation to potential faults, and to their perceived lack of training in technology usage. The majority also indicated that they prefer a nontechnological birth although many point to the benefits of technological support when difficulties are encountered. The use of technology is seen as multi-professional and there was much support among the respondents for multi-disciplinary training in the use of technologies in future curricula.

Conclusions. If the various findings of this sample survey were to be consolidated for midwives as a whole, they suggest that provisions for continuing professional development may need to address technological awareness and competence in a more focused manner than is discernible at present.