Assessing Women in Pregnancy and Labour: Is it Better to Palpate? A Perspective From Midwives Abstract

Celi MY MAK, Hong Soo WONG

Traditionally, midwives have used non-invasive 'hands-on' assessment skills such as abdominal palpation to assess maternal and fetal condition in pregnancy and labour. It is a quick and accurate assessment tool. Moreover, care and concern could be demonstrated to the women by the 'human touch' that accompanies abdominal palpation. However, the increasing utilization of medical technological means e.g. ultrasound (USG) and cardiotocography (CTG) for fetal and maternal assessment has largely replaced the 'human touch'. Consequently, the practice of abdominal palpation is employed less frequently and the art may be devalued or lost. Identification of midwives' attitudes, knowledge, practice and confidence in abdominal palpation may help to shed some light to the value of this art at present. In this study, a self-reporting questionnaire was used to examine 51 midwives' attitudes, knowledge, practice, and confidence in performing abdominal palpation in Hong Kong. It was found that the midwives had positive attitudes, moderate employment of the practice, but inadequate knowledge and confidence in performing abdominal palpation. The implications for enhancing the knowledge, skill and confidence in this art are discussed.

Hong Kong J Gynaecol Obstet Midwifery 2000; 1:86-95

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