Ruth is a community midwife who works in central Manchester who has recently carried out a Masters in Public Health at the University of Salford. As a midwife, a large part of her role involves giving health advice to pregnant women to optimise maternal and infant wellbeing. As part of her Masters, she was keen to take up the opportunity to research the prevention of FASD, as she felt that was a key activity for a midwife to be involved in. As part of her master’s dissertation, Ruth worked with the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership to evaluate their ‘Reducing Alcohol Exposed Pregnancy (AEP) Programme’ on midwifery practice. The preventing AEP programme was a suite of activities that had been trialled in two NHS Foundation Trust geographic areas. Ruth’s research explored the effect of the programme on midwifery practice in the intervention areas.
Previously, international and UK research has shown the provision of alcohol advice and knowledge of official guidance to be generally low among midwives, and that there was a lack of screening for alcohol use in pregnancy. In Greater Manchester, the Reducing AEP programme aimed to implement universal screening of alcohol use in pregnancy, together with advice and support for mothers who had used alcohol. We are pleased to report that Ruth found that midwives involved in the Greater Manchester programme were carrying out screening for alcohol use during pregnancy on multiple occasions, were confident to discuss alcohol, and were well versed in the national and local policies and guidelines. Discussing alcohol was viewed as important and part of the midwife’s role and beliefs.
Ruth’s work has been incorporated into a local evaluation report on the Reducing AEP Programme, and has been used by the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership team many times in presentations to promote the Reducing AEP Programme’s initiatives.