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Rainbow colours painted, photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash ;

Early research into LGBTQ midwifery care

Teresa Arias

Midwife and Senior Teaching Fellow

04 May 2020

I am proud of being a midwife and I know this because I will let it slip into the conversation wherever I am, and this leads to some interesting conversations!

More recently in a Balinese taxi when this revelation prompted the driver to tell me where his wife’s placenta and his baby’s first lock of hair were buried (the parents will return to the same spot where the placenta was buried to bury the lock of hair).

The role of the midwife may change wherever you are in the world, but there still remains an understanding of the principles of what we do and the ripples of what we do are so impactful and important to the health of women , people and their families. – Teresa Arias

The vast and ever-growing evidence is robustly captured in the Lancet series on Maternal Health. International Day of the Midwife is a day to celebrate midwives and the wide reaching, long lasting ripples of their work.

Dr Shawn Walker and I became interested in LGBTQ midwifery care through a series of personal and professional experiences. Our role as educators prompted us to think about how we supported students to offer safe, personalised and sensitive perinatal care to the LGBTQ community.

We realised that we probably did not know what this would ‘look like’ as there is a sparsity in the literature on pre-registration and, indeed, any health professional education on optimal LGBTQ midwifery care. We set about putting a research team together which included one NIHR midwife researcher, Hannah Rayment-Jones and three midwifery students from each year of the BSc programme, Jess Mc Ardle, Bethan Greaves and Eloise Ciceron.

The aim of the research was to ask students, staff and midwives what education they felt they needed to equip them with the knowledge, skills and behaviours to serve the LGBTQ community optimally. The title of the research is Cultivating Awareness of gender and sexual diversity in a midwifery curriculum.

Watch: Teresa Arias and Shawn Walker on improving care for LGBTQ+ communities

The survey and focus groups data generated some interesting data resulting in a table of suggested content and learning strategies to facilitate this education as well as more general questions to consider such as how can we help students to develop and enhance self-awareness? How can we prepare students to remain open to change and difference?

The impact of this work is hard to gauge at this point as a paper is being written up as we speak(!), however some learning from this research has been captured in a sessions  delivered to first and third year midwives to start a conversation about gender and sexual diversity and the midwife’s role. These sessions have been well received and heart-warming. Oral and poster presentations of the research have taken place at two conferences and the educational strategies suggested by the research participants have influenced conversations around the new midwifery curriculum. We hope to build on this research in the future.

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