Identifying the factors that influence midwives' perineal practice at the time of birth in the United Kingdom.
OBJECTIVE The Obstetric Anal Sphincter Injuries (OASI) Care Bundle is designed to reduce the incidence of obstetric anal sphincter injuries. However, introducing behavioural change requires an understanding of current practice. This study aims to establish midwives practise at the time of birth, and the factors that influence this. DESIGN Quantitative research - a national online survey. SETTING Nationwide - United Kingdom (UK). Participants 563 midwives from across the UK. METHODS An online survey of midwives' practice. Midwives were invited to participate through the Supervisor of Midwives network. Consent was sought on the landing page. Data analysis using descriptive and inferential statistics, with sub group analyses were used to explore variations in practice. Measurements Number of midwives using "hands on" the perineum and the influences on midwives' perineal practice at the time of birth. FINDINGS Most midwives preferred to use "hands on" the perineum at the time of birth (61.4%). "Hands on" practise was significantly associated with where midwives worked (p<0.001), risk factors for OASI (p<0.001), and the approach that they were taught in their midwifery training (p<0.01). Midwives expressed lack of confidence in some areas with a third unsure that they could identify the third degree tear category b (38.2%) or c (34.3%). KEY CONCLUSIONS There has been a growth in the number of midwives using "hands on" at the time of birth but midwives feel that they require additional training in regards to identifying an OASI. The study should be repeated following the roll out of the OASI care bundle, to identify its impact on midwives' perineal practice. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE The study identified that there needs to be an improvement in the recognition of OASI by midwives, and in future repeating the study would identify whether the OASI care bundle has influenced midwives' practice.