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Physicians’ Role in Maternal Health Essay (Article)



Certain events tend to stand out in the career of a physician. The story of Maria, a local volunteer who worked in a local hospital, is one such event. Maria chose to deliver her baby at home in order to enjoy the full support of her social network. Listening to Maria’s story led to the realization that there is need to take a closer look at the role physicians play in the maternal health. This paper presents a report based on the process of researching issues that inform the role of a physician in maternal health. Physicians tend to deal with mothers separately from their children. It is easy to assume that a pregnant woman is not different from one who is not pregnant, and to ignore the baby while providing maternal healthcare. The research carried out tried to find out whether there are issues that physicians do not take into account when dealing with maternal health, and how to bridge those gaps.

Rationale for Selecting the Topic

Maria’s story brought to the fore the fact that it is possible for a woman to deliver at home based on the understanding that pregnancy is not a medical condition. Pregnancy is a biological process and does not necessarily call for hospitalization. If all the indicators of a healthy pregnancy predict a normal delivery, then it is plausible to allow a woman to give birth at home. This is the lesson in Maria’s story. She decided to have her baby at home to enjoy the warmth and support of her close friends and family.

After reflecting on this story, it became clear that there are many assumptions medical practitioners make when dealing with health issues based on their training. Physicians in particular seem vulnerable to generalizing the conditions they deal with in utter disregard to the maternal condition of pregnant or lactating mothers. This is because of the general nature of a physician’s work. Apart from certain cautionary actions taken by physicians to deal with drug interaction, they do not consider the influence of motherhood to healthcare delivery.

Maria’s case demonstrated that medical safety takes centre stage as compared to the experiential aspects of maternal care. On the other hand, gynecologists and pediatricians tend to focus a lot more on the reproductive health aspects of a mother hence also miss on the experiential elements. The choice of the topic comes from the desire to find out whether there are things physicians can do to improve service delivery to pregnant and lactating mothers.

Research Process

The process of acquiring resources for this project had two major components. The first component was the technical competence needed to get online access to the resources, while the second element was application of research skills to extract the required resources.

The technical part of the research involved getting access to the online library and using the search tools to carry out the queries required for the research. Access to the online library requires admission to the Hamdan Bin Mohammed University (HBMU) website. After logging in to the website, a user logs in to the e-Library. The homepage of the e-Library offers search options based on the resource base, and the nature of information available. The resource base includes access to library books, and online journals. In addition, the database allows for searching of resources based on the title of the resource, its author, and/or date of publication.

The second element of the research process called for the development of a research plan based on the research topic. After determining the topic, it was necessary to identify the subthemes relating to maternal care. In maternal health, the role of physicians is limited to interventions based on clinical practice. Physicians do not deal with specialized or advanced gynecological issues that accompany pregnancy and childbirth. Therefore, the three sub themes that informed the research process sought to fill the gaps.

The sub themes were, common medical ailments affecting mothers, gaps in maternal health care, and physician involvement in maternal health. The next step was the identification of keywords to guide the choice of materials since the online library uses a keyword system to handle queries. Under common medical ailments affecting mothers, the keywords used were sick mothers, prenatal ailments, and postnatal ailments. The second set of keywords relating to physician involvement in maternal health was the role of physicians, and physicians in maternal health. The third set of keywords relating to gaps in maternal healthcare included gaps in prenatal care, and gaps in postnatal care.

Rationale for Selection of Sources

The rationale for the selection of the five sources used in the research depended on the relevance of the source to the research topic. The sources used were mainly books from the E-library. Out of the four possible sources available for use in the research, Books proved to be the most useful. The reasons are as follows

First, books seemed to have more information relating to the general issues under investigation. Books carry specialized information relating to the topics covered. The result is that books have a greater amount of detail on the issues covered. They proved to have better treatment of contextual issues that arise from the research topic. The contextual issues are very crucial in developing a full understanding of the issues related to the research. Considering that the research topic was wide with three areas to cover, books provided adequate information on each of the three aspects of the research project. They had the background information and a better set of conclusions when compared to any other source.

Secondly, articles were highly focused because they tend to deal with a specific issue. Using articles became a limiting factor for this reason. Scientific articles are useful for specific research topics because of their high degree of focus. This makes using articles very difficult when the volume of research that exists on the issue under research is low. In cases where articles exist, then their high degree of focus and scientific information makes them credible sources.

However, it is a common experience for researchers to find articles dealing with specialized areas. This makes articles limiting because each paper deals with a specific matter based on different objectives. Objectives inform the choice of research tools, and all the tools have certain differences. Therefore, an article may have the same topic as what the researcher wants to pursue but if the research method used does not compare well to the one the researcher wants to use, then the researcher will have difficulties using the article.

Thirdly, books had full topics dedicated to some of the areas under discussion. This was very useful because there was a need to explore the issues under investigation from various perspectives. Since the books dedicated some sections to deal with these issues, they provided highly focused information on the specific aspects of research. This was in addition to the better treatment of contextual issues. The result was the development of a greater understanding of the issues raised. Compared to other sources, books had better arrangement making it easy to find information and to understand it.

The fourth reason that informed the use of books was that they had a wider audience in mind. Articles seemed to have a more specialized audience in mind. This made the books easier to understand. The fact that the books appealed to certain specific disciplines did not make them as difficult to understand as comparable scientific articles. The writers of the books used language that almost any scientist could understand. Articles on the other hand had technical information presented in complex jargon. While it is easy to follow a scientific article in a researcher’s primary field, it is very difficult to understand the articles that contain jargon from other specialized disciplines.

These reasons explain the preference for books. Articles were more difficult to deal with because the research topic dealt with issues from a secondary discipline. This made it difficult to understand the issues raised by experts in the area of maternal health in scientific articles. Their books had more detail, making it easy to understand the issues.

Description of Resources Selected

In order to find the relevant material to address the research questions, the following books proved useful. The title of the first book was “Pleasing Birth: Midwives and Maternity Care” (De Vries, 2004). This book deals with the struggles that midwives face as they offer support to mothers requiring maternal care. Midwives are finding it difficult to provide their services especially in developed countries because the roles they play now fall under the jurisdiction of trained medical professionals. Midwives generally commit their time and attention to a mother regardless of rigorous schedules. They tend to offer better levels of emotional support and care for the mother compared to other medical professionals. This resource shows physicians are not the only professionals who struggle with how to approach maternal health.

The second resource used is the book titled, “Pregnant Pause: An International Legal Analysis of Maternity discrimination” (Cotter, 2009). This resource concentrated on the legal issues facing maternal health. It was interesting to note that there is a wide disparity between the legal environments in different countries affecting maternal health. This book discussed the legal challenges that a medical professional can face in the process of providing maternal health. It also showed mothers the legal recourses they can enjoy in different jurisdictions whenever a medical professional fails to attend to them according to the set standards. The book was very informative on the legal challenges and obligations a physician needs to have in mind while providing care to pregnant and lactating mothers.

The book, “Maternal and Infants Death: Chasing Millennium Goals 4 and 5” was the third resource (Kehoe, 2009). This book explored the causes and consequences of maternal deaths and infant mortality. This book showed that very many mother die from preventable causes, while infants also lose their lives in controllable circumstances. The main issues it raised were the number of simple interventions that can reduce the extent of maternal and infant mortality. The book demonstrated that simple hygiene could reduce these deaths by almost fifty percent (Kehoe, 2009). The book discusses these issues in the context of the millennium development goals, and the progress different regions have made in attaining the goals relating to infant and maternal mortality.

The fourth resource used was the book titled, “Essential Midwifery Practice Postnatal Care” (Byrom, 2004). This book concentrated on the role of the midwife after childbirth. Midwives tend to develop long-term relationships with mothers hence they can follow the progress of the baby and the mother long after their discharge from hospital. Professional midwives work along the same patterns as other medical staff. Traditional midwives on the other hand have a greater say on how they use their time. These midwives, usually found in rural areas, have a strong understanding of the cultural beliefs and practices of the people hence they provide services within a broader cultural context. Their place is diminishing because of the spread of institutional medical services. However, their role in supporting pregnant mothers and new mothers is crucial because of their capacity to offer social and emotional support.

The fifth source used in the research project was the book titled, “Medical Delivery Business, Health Reform, Childbirth, and the Economic Order” (Perkins, 2006). In this book, the issue of the business case of maternal health came to the fore. Historically, the issue of medical care as a business has been a source of debate. On one hand, there a people who feel that medical care should not profit anyone. This comes from the critical nature of medical care in determining the quality of life people enjoy. The thought that someone may lose their life if they cannot pay for services is disturbing. On the other hand, without a profit motive, it is not possible for medical services to improve. Providers need capital injection to buy equipment and drugs to care for patients. On the other hand, a well-equipped medical facility is the result of investment in equipment and facilities. There must be a way to recoup the investment. This resource addresses these issues in the context of maternal health.

Timeline for Resource Use

These resources are useful for the development of a clear view of the role a physician can play in maternal health. It is important to read each of the resources in order find out the information it carries. The best time to look at them is now. The reason for this is that the interest in issues of maternal care is at a high level now. It is important for every physician to make informed choices when dealing with issues of maternal care simply because of the need to take care of the baby’s interests while caring for the mother.

In specific terms, it is important to dedicate a certain amount of time to explore each of the resources. The estimated time to consider these sources is about one hour each. Therefore, it is feasible to plan to peruse all these sources within a week. The sections of interest to the research topic do not form much of the books. Therefore, one hour should be sufficient to explore the relevant sections. This estimation takes into account that some books will have more information than other books. Therefore, one hour is an estimation based on the average time it will take to review each book.

In order to verify the benefits gleaned from the books, a simple process will help to account for the lessons learnt. First, there will be a need to develop a summary of the passages read from each book. The purpose of these summaries is to encourage comprehension and to develop a means of reviewing the information quickly. The second step will be to document the specific lessons learnt from the studies that relate to the research questions. In particular, the lessons should answer the question, how does this information make it easier for a physician to deal with issues of maternal heath? The summaries and the lessons will suffice as a means of measuring the level of success achieved by taking advantage of these resources.


In conclusion, this project provides an opportunity to find out how to use the resources of the e-Library. In the process, it also helps with the unearthing of important information relating to maternal health in the context of a physicians work. Maternal health is a critical component of healthcare, which requires the input of all medical practitioners. Using the e-Library is an interesting way of getting access to resources for use in research. It simplifies the process of information gathering. In a simple search process, it is possible to evaluate hundreds of relevant publications based on keyword search. This makes it easy to access resources, and to find specific information relating to any research topic.


Byrom, S. E. (2004). Essential Midwifery Practice Postnatal Care. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.

Cotter, A.-M. M. (2009). Pregnant Pause: An International Legal Analysis of Maternity discrimination. London: Ashgate publishing Company.

De Vries, R. G. (2004). Pleasing Birth: Midwives and Maternity Care. Magreb: Temple University Press.

Kehoe, S. N. (2009). Maternal and Infants Death: Chasing Millennium Goals 4 and 5. London: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Perkins, B. B. (2006). Medical Delivery Business, Health Reform, Childbirth, and the Economic Order. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

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