Midwives and protection of pregnant workers in Western Switzerland: Practices, difficulties and contributions

Midwifery. 2021 Nov;102:103125. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2021.103125. Epub 2021 Aug 14.

Abstract

Background: Switzerland's maternity protection legislation aims to protect the health of pregnant employees and their unborn children by regulating their potential occupational exposure to hazards and strenuous activities. This legislation provides a role for obstetricians, but not for midwives.

Aims: Identify the practices of Switzerland's French-speaking midwives that favour the implementation of maternity protection legislation and reflect on the profession's role in supporting pregnant employees.

Methods: 356 midwives answered an online questionnaire. The analysis focuses on the 205 midwives who perform pregnancy consultations in their practice. Data were analysed in two stages using STATA software: 1) simple descriptive and correlational statistics and 2) hierarchical cluster analysis to identify typologies of practices by grouping similar responses.

Findings: Despite having no officially defined role in Switzerland's maternity protection legislation, its midwives actively participate in protecting pregnant employees , especially those with more knowledge of the legislation, those with more years of experience and those practicing independently. The barriers that midwives face when trying to provide greater support for pregnant employees are linked significantly to their lack of knowledge about the legislation, a lack of recognition for their role in the current legislation and a lack of continuing education about the occupational health risks associated with pregnancy at work.

Conclusions and implications for practice: Their profession and specific practices give midwives privileged access to pregnant employees. Midwives' knowledge of the legislation, their awareness of the occupational risks and hazards facing pregnant employees and the conviction that their profession has the potential to make a difference could all be improved. The role of midwives should be-and deserves to be-formally and legally recognised and integrated into Switzerland's maternity protection legislation.

Keywords: Legislation and jurisprudence; Midwifery; Occupational exposure; Pregnancy; Preventive measures; Women, Working.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Midwifery*
  • Nurse Midwives*
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Physicians*
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Switzerland