Partnership Between Midwives and Their Clients

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This essay explores the partnership relationship between a midwife and the woman she is caring for within the context of law and ethics and relating to decision-making. The midwife-woman partnership can create an environment in which the woman can become empowered and her confidence as a woman and mother can be strengthened. Empowering women in healthcare provision enhances the woman’s ability to make informed decisions for herself and her family. Issues of law and ethics, such as the right to autonomy and informed decision-making and the right to consent to or refuse the provision of midwifery care will be highlighted along with how midwifery practice is influenced by regulatory boards and common law. The importance of evidence-based practice and practicing within one’s scope will also be discussed.

The strategy used to locate resources while researching the topics in this essay included searching Google Scholar and all databases available via CQUniversity library’s DISCOVER IT! search facility, utilising the provided weekly readings, pdfs, websites and textbook and sourcing articles and reports mentioned and referenced by authors of informative articles already sourced. Searches were restricted to scholarly journals published between 2009 and 2014. Search terms included a combination of the following words and terms: partnership, midwi* (truncated to search from midwife, midwifery, midwives), decision-making, educating women, informed decision-making, ethics, law, childbirth education, promoting autonomy, promoting informed decision making.

One of the fundamental principles of midwifery is the relationship that is developed and nurtured between a midwife and the woman she is caring for (Guilliland & Pairman, 2010; Kirkman,...

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...rovides all midwives employed within Australia with a point of reference when making decisions within a professional context (Anderson & Pelvin, 2010). For example, Value statement 5 states that midwives value a woman’s legal and ethical right to informed decision-making and autonomy during pregnancy, labour, birth and early parenthood (NMBA, 2008a). In light of this value statement, all pregnant women have the right to make autonomous decisions regarding their maternity care (Kruske et al., 2013) and should not be coerced into making decisions (Anderson & Pelvin, 2010). The concept of autonomy shifts the locus of decision-making in maternity care from the health care provider to the woman herself (Anderson & Pelvin, 2010) and in demonstrating autonomy, the woman also takes responsibility for the consequences of her choice (Bones, 2006 cited in Thompson, 2013).

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