Creating Guardians of Physiologic Birth: The Development of an Educational Initiative for Student Midwives in the Netherlands

Suzanne M. Thompson*, Marianne J. Nieuwenhuijze, Lisa Kane Low, Raymond De Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Women want positive birth experiences with high quality maternity care that is neither too much, too soon, nor too little, too late. Research confirms the effectiveness of midwifery care, and the midwifery approach to birth as physiologic may counter the upward trend of the unnecessary medicalization of birth. The role of guardian of physiologic birth is seen as central to midwifery practice; however, medical hegemony has led to the subordination of midwives, which inhibits them in fulfilling the role as guardian of physiologic birth. Learning to become powerful advocates of physiologic birth creates midwives able to speak up for effective, evidence-based maternity care and challenge the unnecessary use of obstetric intervention. Midwifery education has a role to fulfil in molding midwives who are able to assume this role. This brief report describes the development of an educational prototype aimed at increasing student midwife agency as an advocate of physiologic birth. This was done using rapid prototyping (RP) methodology, in which important stakeholders gave input and feedback during the educational design and development process. Input from stakeholders led to the inclusion of persuasive communication strategies and discussion and debate as teaching methodologies in order to increase student midwife agency to argue for physiologic birth. Reflective evidence-based practice, using the Optimality Index-Netherlands, allowed students to reflect on their practice while providing a framework for discussion. Working with the RP methodology allowed for the development of a prototype that reflected the needs of midwifery stakeholders and was mindful of material and human resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-648
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Midwifery & Women's Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


  • student midwives
  • physiologic birth
  • rapid prototyping
  • midwifery education
  • stakeholders
  • communication skills
  • reflective practice
  • optimality
  • CARE


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