An essay on the Role of the Maternity Support Worker and the support for midwives at the labor care period


A midwife is not the only maternity care provider but a maternity support worker role is increasing. But midwives must remember that they are only delegating a part of their activities over to them (Mkay-Moffat, 2007) such that the responsibility isn’t directly given to the maternity support worker. A maternity support worker (MSW) is a complex role which focuses on the ability to support and care for patients in the maternity care setting. These complex roles, such as the support of the patient’s decisions and to give suitable advice, reach a multitude of activities where each activity is designed to improve the care of patients. The tasks of a maternity support worker facilitate the tasks of the midwives. This can ease pressure from the common tasks which a midwife may encounter in the job of a midwife. Thus, therefore the relationship between these professions forms a mutualism which facilitates each profession tasks. A few examples of some of the tasks to expect are: - Welcoming the initial visit of patients into the maternity ward. - Clear up the delivery suite after birth of a baby so that the next woman can give birth. - Administrative roles such as maintaining and updating records. - The education to women and families about certain aspects of pregnancy and the types of infant feeding available. - Taking blood samples of the mother including the delivery of tissue and fluid samples. - Assist and support with the basic patientcare, procedures, investigations or interventions. This is not a conclusive list and there are many more tasks to which are expected of a maternity support worker as they provide client support and have the abilities to assist the professionals with their roles so the work load is reduced for the professionals. From the required tasks, it is clear that the knowledge base and skills of a maternity support worker is highly valuable and it is the specified aspects which creates this profession available to women before, during and after the birth.

In medicine, it is not uncommon to find multiple professions working together, for example, the maternity care team, to achieve a common goal. In the case of a maternity care team, the goal is to provide adequate care to women and new born babies, before, during and after labour (antenatal and post partum periods). These professions for a type of mutualism, meaning they work together so everyone is at a benefit, and require vast knowledge of their own role including the ability to cooperate, support and liaise with each other to ensure that a woman-centred care environment is achieved. This means that a maternity support worker must be aware that they have a few responsibilities so they can give the best help that a woman can get. Since the maternity support worker needs to work in a team, they must be competent and able to liaise within a team environment so that they must not only understand their own roles, however, must understand the roles of the professions they may work with. One could state that the role of a maternity support worker is not specific, however, there are two aims, firstly; to provide the adequate care and support to patients and secondly; the active party to provide the support to facilitate the activities of the professionals in their roles (Lindsay, 2014; Royal College of Midwives [RCM], 2011).

This essay will primarily focus on the role of a Maternity Support Worker (MSW) and use reference to the All Wales Maternity Support Worker Curriculum (NLIAH, 2009), which sets out the required skills, knowledge and give guidance for a maternity support worker in society. The essay will also be gathering information off the internet to compare and contrast with findings from research papers and other articles. The aim of the essay is to review relevant literature and reflect on a developing role. This means that I must identify a key aspect of a role and explore the current debates about the aspect. After this, I am required to identify three relevant articles that will be discussed along with the summary and exploration of their findings. Finally, I will reflect and analyse my own perception and experiences of the topics. The aspect of the role of a maternity support worker which I will be choosing is the support of midwives during labour care. As the woman delivers the baby, the midwife is allegedly to support and help the woman with the delivery. However, a maternity support worker is a qualified person which is able to assist and facilitate the midwife throughout the pregnancy such as clinical and administrative support (Holmes, D. Baker, P.N., 2006) and this includes the assistance of helping the midwife who is helping the mother deliver the baby. By having a delegation of tasks from the midwife, it allows the midwife to concentrate on the more demanding parts of labour creating a unification and a better health care experience.

Support of Midwives during Labour and the Role of the Maternity Support Worker

The All Wales Curriculum for Maternity Support Workers (NLIAH, 2009) gives information on what a maternity support worker needs to demonstrate and the skills required to support midwives with the assistance of labour along with a multitude of other skill required such as the support of women with infant feeding which includes infant breastfeeding. The information attained form The All Wales Curriculum for Maternity Support Workers (NLIAH, 2009) illustrates that a maternity support worker should be adequately trained to “Know the anatomy and physiology of the female reproductive system”. This includes knowing the functions and the of various organs in the reproductive system including the Ovaries, Fallopian Tubes, Uterus, Vagina and a couple of more elements. Also, the knowledge of the actions of different types of hormones is a dire matter as different hormones are present in different stages of pregnancy which influence lactation and labour. This clearly shows that maternity support workers need to be knowledgeable with and up to date with recent knowledge of the best techniques and practice to provide the best assistance to the midwife. The Royal College of Midwives (RCM, 2011) states that a maternity support worker may not assist in the delivery; provide assisted delivery; and the monitoring of the birth process. However, the maternity support worker is able to prepare and clean the clinical area for births to take place; clean and make beds; and many more essential tasks. This brings about a system where a maternity support worker can observe what is going on, and give support and guidance to women who need help giving information. If there is a problem in the wellbeing of the mother or child then it is a responsibility to report this to the midwife so additional attention can be drawn. The National Health Service has listed the job in the perspective of a daily life of a typical maternity support worker (NHS, 2014). It explains how a maternity support worker helps with the maintenance of ensuring the patient receives sufficient care. This is achieved with actions during labour such as helping the woman to the bathroom, rubbing her back, trying to help with the pain management. After labour the duties can include getting a change of clothes and providing some refreshment and ensuring that any soiled equipment is disposed of properly. This is providing the patient with the required care without the need of the patient to worry about becoming embarrassed or anxious about their current condition through labour. The process of labor can be an exciting but painful period where the woman is going through a vast amount of pain but can also lead to many problems such as depression and anxiety. This is a potential area to where a maternity support worker could occupy. Due to the nature of a patient visiting a maternity support worker more often than a midwife, potentially, the maternity support worker will be able to pick up on any mental illnesses or any other problem and report the condition of the patient to the midwife or another profession which may be able to help.

Review of Three Articles

The three articles chosen were: Hussain and Marshall (2011) The effect of the developing role of the maternity support worker on the professional accountability of the midwife; Manthorpe and Martineau (2008) Support workers: their role and tasks. A scoping review; Bick, Rose, Weaver, and Wray (2011) Improving inpatient postnatal services: midwives views and perspectives of engagement in a quality improvement initiative. The articles chosen were based upon the information included within the articles and also the experience that all the authors have, for example, some of the authors are lecturers at a university while others are midwives themselves. The experience mounts up to give insight on current problems and the solutions to a maternity support worker role. The information illustrates the roles of the maternity support worker and how the responsibilities interact with other professionals such as midwives and doctors. Hussain and Marshall (2011) uses both qualitative information and quantitative data from different organisations within the United Kingdom to build a picture for the employment of maternity support workers and stating the general roles within the community or ward. Both the authors are qualified midwives and teach midwifery at Nottingham University. Manthorpe and Martineau (2008) uses information which illustrates the role of the support worker which not only includes a maternity support worker, but also the roles outside of the maternity ward. I find this particular article interesting as the authors state that all the support workers have a common goal, which is to provide the adequate care needed and to perform tasks the keep healthcare professionals notified related to the patient (Manthorpe and Martineau, 2008). Hussain and Marshall (2011) states that the employment for the role as a maternity support worker in on the increase throughout the United Kingdom, with just over 90% of Heads of Midwifery reported that they employed people for the role of a maternity support worker in 2009, while in 2007, there was only just over 77%. Even though these values are available, there is no official data on how much the percentages translate into for the positions available Hussain and Marshall (2011). Majority of the maternity support worker roles involved the tasks for administrative work, obtaining urine samples and calculating body mass index data which are delegated tasks from the midwife, easing the midwives schedule (Manthorpe and Martineau, 2008). Hussain and Marshall (2011) also states that there are courses on the national curriculum within the United Kingdom which offer NVQ (National Vocational Qualifications) which teaches the specifics of a maternity support worker so that new maternity support workers can aide midwives to a high standard and this also opens the doors to other routes such as a doula to support women during labour. The article by Bick, Rose, Weaver, and Wray (2011) is an article which uses qualitative information to look at how maternity support works work in the work place and how they can assist the care of the mother and baby throughout the pregnancy such as in the labour and post-natal period. The reason that the role of a maternity support worker presented itself is due to midwifes receiving a higher workload by taking some of the workload from doctors (Bick, Rose, Weaver, and Wray 2011). This felt the need for revision in the medical team so that a specific role would need to be created to help with the workload of a midwife at the crucial stages of pregnancy to improve natal care, thus, creating the maternity support worker role and hiring more midwives (Bick, Rose, Weaver, and Wray 2011). A range of sources of information for parents were available where the maternity support worker influenced the information such as infant breastfeeding and daily infant bathing demonstrations (Bick, Rose, Weaver, and Wray 2011). The use of a maternity support worker was to assist during labour of the baby. The maternity support worker is to assist the midwife to ensure that the mother is calm and relaxed, ensuring suitable care is taken and the process is all ethical to her wishes (Bick, Rose, Weaver, and Wray 2011).


The structure of this reflection will follow the ‘what, so what, now what’ model.


This assignment has been undertaken to my understanding to the guidelines. I was able to search the internet looking for relevant information which facilitated my research into the matter. I was able to note down some ideas from various places and some information from discussions with my peers about possible topics to get an insight on what others were doing as I did not really want to do the same as someone else in my class. The idea of using the role of a maternity support worker during the process of labour to assist the midwife was based solely on my interest with how two roles work together to provide the best support for a woman and how one day, I hope that I could be assisting a midwife or even become a midwife. During the period of deciding upon an idea, I did various research on a multitude of ideas which intrigued me. These searches were quite simple and were done on the internet. Firstly, I researched the general role of a maternity support worker so I could get some background information on the general day to day activities, the expectations and the training that is required. After gaining an insight to the role, I decided that for my topic, I researched with the help of the internet information about the activities of the maternity support worker during the stages of labour. Some information that I found was interesting and gave me some insight to some debates on if we needed maternity support workers and if their role is suitable, including the scenario to as if some of the midwife’s responsibilities, such as invasive procedures, would be passed to the maternity support worker. After this, I carried out various searches thought the Universities iFind Research pages, where I searched for articles relating to the following key words; “midwives”, “maternity support workers”, “labour”. The results allowed me to read a short synopsis and if I had found it appealing, then I would download the article to read through them and study the material.

So What?

This section will focus on the resulting lesson that I have learned from this assignment. I believe that I have learned allot from this assignment and would state that I had never previously wrote an assignment like this. The research widened my view on the maternity care sector and allowed me to gain an insight on the bigger picture in a maternity care team, specifically a maternity support worker in depth. I can admit that it was not easy to take a vast amount of information and turn it into an essay such that it is critical and researched. I find it amazing on how birth, which is a common procedure, is complex and required the assistance of medical professionals to deliver a baby. Before I started the Maternity Care course, I did not know the roles of a maternity care team and I am shocked on how much work a midwife actually has to undertake. And this is the reason why I believe there should be a role such as the maternity support worker and this provides a safer environment and allows more care to be given to the mother.

Now What?

This section is where I will focus on my future work and how the information researched will impact and other work I may partake and how I will use my newly found understanding which is gained from participating in this assignment. My aim is to eventually find work as a maternity support worker as I like the prospectus of meeting new people, supporting women and working in a community. It cannot be stressed enough that the role of a maternity support worker is indeed needed in the maternity care team as they aide with the activities of a midwife thus freeing up more time for the midwife to concentrate on the more demanding tasks. Lindsay (2014) illustrates that the safety of a patient is increased when a maternity support worker is able to contribute, providing that the maternity support worker is adequately educated and prepared. I believe that I would be able to fit that criteria and enable the patient to feel safe and provide the proper care needed. Care needs to be given and so does advice about other areas of maternity care. For example, more breast feeding techniques and education on the benefits of breast feeding need to be informed to patients. From the literature, the employability of maternity support workers is always increasing which if also facilitated by an aging midwife population. I could see myself working in a hospital ward, as more labours tend to be in a hospital setting where it is safer if something were to go horribly wrong. To this end of my assignment and my HE Certificate in Maternity Care, I can see that the modules are all interlinked and each steam from one to another. Essentially it forms a web structure, more like an un-directional graph where everything is connected and gets information from each other. Writing assignments such as this one has helped me understand the perspective and changed my ideas on how the health system works in the maternity setting, specifically the role as a maternity support worker in a maternity care setting. Through out the course, we have learned a vast amount of importance and information on various subjects such as breastfeeding, physiology, the maternity care team, human anatomy, role of the midwife and maternity support worker and much more. And this has been an intriguing course for me both philosophically and mentally. I hope that after doing this course, I will be able to attend further study to increase my competence in this area and further improve my understanding on more topics.


The assignment has given me the ability to explore the issues relating to the provision of supporting the midwife during labour. This identifies the advantages and disadvantages between the professions working together and the importance of maintaining a balanced workplace between the two professions. The essay should have given enough knowledge and exploration of some literature about supporting a midwife during labor including the debates. It is seen that labor is a difficult time with the pain, but a maternity support worker is able to relax the situation, take some of the work load from the midwife so the midwife is able to concentrate on the critical parts of labor. The role of a maternity support worker is to help or assist with the care of the mother at the prenatal and postnatal periods reducing the workload of the midwife. During these times, the patient (the mother) is at a period where she is in the process of giving birth which is exhausting. As I have discussed, the maternity support worker is a good role to have in the maternity care team as they will tend to have more contact with the patient meaning that the the maternity support worker can visually see if anything is going wrong with the mother or baby, before the midwife may see a change, and to this the maternity support worker would be able to alert the midwife of any problems. From the chosen literature, the role of a maternity support worker is evidently helpful within the community. Enabling the facilitation of patient care between midwives and patients.


NLIAH (2009). Getting Collaboration to work In Wales: Lessons from the NHS and partners. Llanharan: NLIAH. Homes, D. Baker. P.N. (2006) Midwifery by ten teachers. Florida: Taylor and Francis Group ltd. Mkay-Moffat, S. (2007) Disability in pregnancy and childbirth. Philadelphia: Elservier Limited. RMC (2011) The Role and Responsibilities of Maternity Support Workers. Retrieved from: Date: 15/08/2017 NHS (2014) Maternity Support Worker. Retrieved from: Date: 15/08/2017 Hussain and Marshall (2011) The effect of the developing role of the maternity support worker on the professional accountability of the midwife. Leicester: University of Leicester Manthorpe and Martineau (2008) Support workers: their role and tasks. A scoping review. London: King’s College London Bick, Rose, Weaver, and Wray (2011) Improving inpatient postnatal services: midwives views and perspectives of engagement in a quality improvement initiative. Manchester: University Of Manchester.


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