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Jacobsen KE, Katon JG, Kantrowitz-Gordon I. Midwifery in the Time of COVID-19: An Exploratory Study from the Perspectives of Community Midwives. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2022 Jun 30.
INTRODUCTION: An increasing number of people in the United States are choosing to give birth in a community setting. There is anecdotal evidence that interest in community birth further increased during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The purpose of this study was to explore the needs, barriers, and successes of community midwifery during COVID-19 and how these experiences can inform future efforts to support and sustain community-based midwifery. METHODS: This qualitative study used semi-structured interviews conducted online with 11 community midwives from the greater Seattle area who were practicing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interviews were transcribed verbatim from audio recordings. Transcripts were analyzed using deductive and inductive coding. RESULTS: Participants all reported challenges navigating COVID-19-related changes, such as implementing personal protective equipment, using telehealth, and limiting support people at births. Although participants saw an increased interest in their services, the increase in uncompensated labor contributed to burnout. Many participants described regularly encountering stigma and misperceptions about community midwifery when their patients transferred to hospitals, which occurred more often among clients who chose midwifery primarily because of COVID-19 concerns. Community midwives expressed a desire to increase interprofessional collaboration with hospitals to sustain the future of community midwifery. CONCLUSIONS: The experiences of community midwives practicing during the COVID-19 pandemic indicate strategies to reduce burnout and support community midwifery during the pandemic, natural disasters, and beyond. These strategies include improved interprofessional collaboration and higher reimbursement rates.