This is a critical analysis of a student’s use and understanding of communication techniques during a ten minute simulated interaction with a woman in labour.
The purpose of this written critique, is to enable the student to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses in the use of their communication skills, observed during the recorded interaction. These skills are broken down into areas of interpersonal skills, which are; physical behaviour, active listening, questions and verbal responses; voice, manner and self-awareness. This model of communication that is being used was developed by Hargie and Dickson (2004c).
A definition of communication according to Badham (2003, p. 1) is:
“A process that involves a meaningful exchange between at least two people to convey facts, needs, opinions, thoughts, feelings or other information through both verbal and non-verbal means, including face to face exchanges and the written word.”
McCabe and Timmins (2006) States that this type of interaction would take place within the context of a relationship, where mutual trust and understanding has formed, for a midwife to develop this type of relationship, compassion and empathy are key skills. As stated by Siddiqui. (1999, p. 113) “By utilizing an empathetic approach, the midwife is able to display an understanding of the woman’s perspective, to: ‘walk in the other’s shoes’. It is an attempt to ‘touch’ the other person on a spiritual dimension”.
It was noted that the student approached the woman directly, but there was a marked hesitation before she introduced herself and explained why she was there. The introduction itself was professional and friendly, with open body language, as the woman was bending over the chair in the middle of a contraction, the student positioned herself to the side of the chair, so there was no barrier between the woman and herself, the student also bent down slightly at the waist, to engage eye contact with the woman, this could also be seen as an attempt to come down to the woman’s level, so as not to appear to be standing over the woman which could give the wrong signal of superiority, (O’Driscoll, 1997).
The relationship was established when the student introduced herself and offered to help, with this the woman held out her hand for support. The student coached the woman with her breathing technique, this would have provided the woman with the ability to take control of her contractions. Controlled slow breathing is recommended during a contraction, this is because it increases oxygenation and relaxation which enables the woman’s focus to become more internal, allowing the woman to become more in tuned with her body (Lothian 2011).
It was also noted that the comfort of the woman was addressed throughout the assessment, the student asked the woman was it more comfortable standing, the woman replied that it was, and then inquired was it okay to stand, from this it can be seen that the woman wanted to be reassured that she was...