A Birth Partner Checklist

Steve Hogarth, Senior Lecturer Midwifery, University of Huddersfield

Having a baby in the UK is the safest it has ever been. However, women and babies are still being exposed to substantial and sometimes multiple avoidable harms, during labour and birth. Human factors, working culture, communication and teamwork are key themes associated with avoidable harm in maternity care. The success of the WHO surgical checklist in reducing harm and improving team work and communication in operating theatres is a model which is transferable to labour and birth.

Our response was to create a safety checklist to be used in collaboration with women and their birth partners. The project aimed to improve communication between the midwives/other clinical staff and the birth partners, meaning that in effect the development of the checklist will be personal and potentially empowering for mothers and partners during labour and birth to ensure that basic care is delivered reliably and safely.

In March 2013, we generated ideas for the birth partner checklist, which included focus groups. The purpose of these groups was to generate ideas from healthcare professionals for the content and potential themes that could be incorporated into the checklist. We used the NICE Intra partum Birth Guidelines (2007) as a reference to help inform some of the suggestions.

Midwife extract: ‘After today’s session I will go away and have a look at my parent craft input and probably tweak the parent craft presentation to look at it a lot more from a birthing partner’s point of view and hopefully get them to be a little bit thought provoking and involve them more in the process of labour.” Another Midwife, said: “I did not what to expect but it has all been extremely positive and it is nice to hear that there could be some extremely improved changes to how we care.’

In May and June 2013 we undertook interviews with new parents Parent (1) highlighted that ‘having a checklist in labour would be very helpful, knowing what will happen and what to do if there is a problem would really help’. Parent (3), said ‘I always like to know what is going on and if I have a checklist this would help me to have an understanding of when thing need.

The evaluation of the project were mixed response from both health professionals and birth partners, with the qualitative part of the evaluation took the form of a thematic analysis of the responses. Salford_SHINE_AW

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