Hands off, eyes on: Student midwives’ education on normal birth
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Primary care department, AUSL Bologna, Bologna, Italy
IRCCS University Hospital of Bologna S.Orsola, Bologna, Italy
School of Medicine, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
Publication date: 2023-10-24
Corresponding author
Lucia Branchini   

Primary care department, AUSL Bologna, Bologna, Italy
Eur J Midwifery 2023;7(Supplement 1):A190
To facilitate ‘normal birth’ is a midwifery competence, that should be achieved during midwifery training. This is made difficult by the raising level of birth medicalisation. Considering these premises, it is important to question what are midwives and students’ perspectives about normal birth. This study aims at knowing the perception of normal birth for midwives and student midwives, how much of it is possible to experience in reality and how this can influence midwifery education.

Material and Methods:
A qualitative study was conducted following the methodology of the Grounded Theory. Data were collected by focus groups and online survey. Participants (midwives and student midwives) were recruited from the hospitals linked to the same Italian university, for a total of 6 focus groups (with 8 students and 18 midwives). 28 online survey were completed.

Five themes were identified: “Ideal midwifery vs real midwifery”, “Empowering normal birth”, “Learning the art of midwifery”, “Growing as midwives”, “Full immersion in pathology”, “Resources to improve”. Students witness very poorly normal birth in placements. However, there is an effort from mentors to facilitate the acquisition of these skills. Although its definition was not always clear, participants described that ‘normal birth’ skills involve the ability to not interfere, while thoroughly observing (“hands off, eyes on”). The role of continuity between student and mentor a tool that can help the acquisition of these skills, despite the presence of medicalisation.

This elements can be helpful when projecting midwifery training, as the philosophy adopted by the course university, in planning placement and educational activities as a strong influence on students experiences.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare. All co-authors have seen and agree with the contents of the manuscript and there is no financial interest to report. We certify that the submission is original work and is not under review at any other publication.
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