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Background: Midwives are globally recognised as health professionals who specialise in caring for childbearing women with a vital role in maternal and neonatal health care. Despite the midwifery profession being an autonomous profession, there are many struggles to attain recognition within its formal scope of practice in some countries.
Objective: This study was undertaken to explore the views of pregnant women in Thailand regarding the role of midwifes and their selection of intrapartum care providers in order to understand their perceptions about giving birth with a midwife for normal pregnancies.
Design and setting: An online descriptive survey collected the views of 149 Thai pregnant women.
Findings: Not all participants were clear about the role of midwifes during labour and birth. Around one third of the women surveyed could identify all tasks of midwifery during labour and birth including conducting normal birth, placenta delivery, and perineal suturing; hence, the majority was unclear about what a midwife does. This study found that, although Thai women believe midwives play an important role in birth support, they did not necessarily consider them to be the main provider and/or be solely responsible for conducting the birth of the infant in healthy, low risk pregnant women. Instead the expertise of the physician was recognised as pre-eminent in conducting normal births. Pregnant women indicated they were more confident with a physician in comparison with the midwife during labour and birth.
Conclusion and Implications for Practice: It is very concerning for midwifery as a profession that there is a current lack of visibility of the midwives to practice within their scope of practice in Thailand. More research is needed on the demonstrating the value of midwives as primary carer in the context of midwifery practice in Thailand. Thai midwives need be in a much stronger position to make improvements to maternity care in Thailand and potentiating improved choice and empowerment for women whilst aiming for better pregnancy outcomes. There is a need to mobilize resources and strategies to introduce midwife-led continuity of care and improvements to midwifery care in Thailand.