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Networking of independent midwives in Switzerland: access to early childhood promotion programs for families with newborn babies

At a glance


Midwives in Switzerland accompany women and families during pregnancy and childbirth up to eight weeks after birth. During this time they not only attend the mother during labour and birth, they also promote the health of the mother and her child and support parents in caring for their newborn child. During the postpartum period, midwives can provide up to 16 visits in the family's home environment.

If parents are limited in their ability to respond appropriately to early childhood needs due to a particular psychosocial or financial situation, midwifery care has the potential to support families in accessing further early childhood support programmes. At the moment, it is largely unknown whether and in what form independent midwives network and what attitudes and expectations they have towards (successful) networking activities.

This project aims to analyse the structure and characteristics of the existing networking activities of independent midwives as well as their development potential. In order to achieve this goal, a two-stage, qualitative and quantitative study design was chosen. The study included independent midwives working with families during the post partum period from German-, Italian- and French-speaking Switzerland.

In the first step, 11 midwives with expertise in caring for socially disadvantaged families during the postpartum period were interviewed. The recorded interviews were transcribed and evaluated by content analysis. Based on the knowledge gained from this analysis, a questionnaire was developed for the online survey of 1,379 independent midwives. The data of 401 midwives (return 29.1 %) were evaluated.

We concluded that midwives contribute considerably to the care for psychosocially disadvantaged families, especially if they are part of an interdisciplinary network. To utilize the advantages of interdisciplinary networks the most effective networks need to be identified. Also, midwives should be actively encouraged to join them.

The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Canton of Zurich.

The project was funded by the National Program against Poverty and Family Start Zürich.