Scotland's new mums are receiving better care - positive approach to maternity services achieved

Scotland's new mums are receiving better care - positive approach to maternity services achieved

Scotland’s new mums are receiving better care -

positive approach to maternity services achieved

‘NATIONAL PREGNANCY WEEK’

The University of Aberdeen is playing a key role in researching maternity services – not only in Aberdeen, throughout Scotland and the UK, but further afield in other developing countries.

Top quality maternity services continually monitor the care they give to expectant mothers. The aim is for expectant mothers to enjoy pregnancy, to give birth as free from complications as is possible, and for babies to get a good start to their growth and development.

Dr. Gillian Penney, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, is the Co-ordinator of the Scottish Programme for Clinical Effectiveness in Reproductive Health (SPCERH). Dr. Penney and colleagues from the University of Aberdeen’s Dugald Baird Centre for Research on Women’s Health reported last year on a Scotland-wide survey of maternity services.

The report, ‘Maternity Care Matters’, included the results of the ‘Scottish Birth Survey’ conducted by the Dugald Baird Centre. This national audit into the care received by Scottish women during pregnancy and childbirth found that the level of care given to Scotland’s new mums had improved during recent years. It showed that:

- women’s views of their maternity care were very positive;

- a great deal had been done to give women the information they wanted about pregnancy

However, the team concluded that more remained to be done in relation to many other areas of care, including the co-ordination of care. For example, one quarter of all women reported that they had been confused or worried by conflicting advice that they had received from different health professionals.

At the same time, Scottish hospitals were praised for providing more homely settings for births. However, women were still lacking choice in terms of place of preferred place of antenatal care and delivery or the person providing that care.

This year the focus for the Aberdeen research team, and their colleagues in Edinburgh, is on a national audit of prevention of emergencies in labour. Work is underway in all 23 Scottish maternity units to examine whether their care is best designed to prevent emergencies during labour. Scottish labour wards will be looking at whether their practice meets the standards set out in the recent joint report ‘Towards Safer Childbirth’ from the Royal Colleges of Obstetricians and Midwives.

In addition, the Dugald Baird Centre has received a grant from the European Commission for a 30-month project in developing countries called ‘SAFE – Skilled Attendants for Everyone’. Dr. Wendy Graham, Director, Dugald Baird Centre, said: “Although there is a health professional (a midwife, nurse or doctor) at virtually all deliveries in the western world, in poorer countries the majority of women have no such help. This project is aimed towards women in developing countries having a skilled attendant with her during labour to try and reduce maternal deaths during delivery.”

A study has also been conducted of women who were pregnant as teenagers in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. The researcher, Sarah Smith, said: “The women who came forward to take part in the study were very keen to tell their story!”

Very few women from Smith’s study fitted stereotypes of pregnant teenagers. Compared with other Western European countries, the rate of teenage pregnancies within the UK and Scotland is still high. It appears that we still need to work on improving the sex education and services for our young people and help teenagers develop skills for good interpersonal relationships and self-respect.

Further information from:

Angela Begg, Public Relations Officer, University of Aberdeen (01224) 272960

The Dugald Baird Centre for Research on Women’s Health:

The Dugald Baird Centre for Research on Women’s Health was launched in May 1995. As a centre of excellence within the University of Aberdeen’s wider Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, it undertakes people-based research, focusing on the health of women as individuals and as populations.

The aim of the Dugald Baird Centre (DBC) for their research “to help improve the reproductive health and health care of women in Scotland and internationally, through a multi-disciplinary approach, excellence in quantitative and qualitative research methods, and adoption of a global perspective”. This statement highlights the four main elements that give the Dugald Baird Centre its unique identity:

- A local, national and international remit, enabling research evidence and expertise to be shared between developed and developing countries;

- An holistic approach, which acknowledges women’s reproductive health within the broader context of their lives;

- A capacity to draw upon appropriate research methods from both the medical and the social sciences;

- A facility located in a clinical setting, enabling daily interaction between providers of health care and researchers.

University Press Office on telephone +44 (0)1224-273778 or email a.ramsay@admin.abdn.ac.uk.

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