Evidence and compassion in Maternity care / C.S.Minnie
Maternity care is the care of the mother-baby dyad during pregnancy, childbirth and the first few months thereafter. Various members of the multidisciplinary team can offer maternity care, and the focus of my research is on the role of the midwife, who is the ‘specialist’ in physiological childbirth. A “good midwife” is competent in the cognitive (mind), psychomotor (hands) and affective (heart) domains. My research focuses on the overlap between evidence-based practice (mind and hands) and compassion (heart) to ensure quality maternity care. Evidence-based practice (using the best available evidence in practice) can be considered as the combination of the mind and the hands. My interest in evidence-based practice includes systematic (and other research -) review methodology and implementation science (the process of how primary research is synthesised, transferred/ translated) eventually implemented in practice). I collaborated with researchers from Canada and Europe and presented workshops, and published a few book chapters and articles on these aspects. Companionship during childbirth is both a specific evidence-based practice and a component of compassionate maternity care. A few studies investigated aspects of companionship: how women experience continuous support during childbirth, the challenges of midwives in implementing continuous support and how midwives can facilitate such support even if they cannot offer it themselves. Two PhD students are busy developing a strategy to facilitate the implementation of continuous support during childbirth and a program to promote supportive interpersonal relationships between midwives, women and their companions. My research on compassionate maternity care addresses the affective domain of a midwife’s work (the heart). Two concepts received a lot of emphases globally in the last ten years, namely ‘Disrespect and Abuse during childbirth’ and ‘Respectful maternity care’. My research focuses on building on what works - an appreciative approach and therefore concentrate more on respectful or compassionate maternity care. Individual studies investigated the characteristics of compassionate maternity care from the perspectives of midwives and new mothers. I am also interested in assessing compassionate maternity care offered in maternity units. A current project in my research program is an integrative literature review to identify instruments that can be used as-is or adapted for the South African context. The next step will be to develop a strategy to promote compassionate maternity care and then implement and evaluate it. My research program aims to improve the care of mothers and their infants. My research program investigates related aspects, and studies build on each other to ultimately benefit mothers, their infants and society.