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Spirituality and childbirth: An international virtual co-operative inquiry

Crowther, S., Hall, J., Balabanoff, D. , Baranowska, B., Kay, L. ORCID: 0000-0002-7259-5416, Ménage, D. & Fry, J. (2020). Spirituality and childbirth: An international virtual co-operative inquiry. Women and Birth, 34(2), e135-e145. doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2020.02.004


PROBLEM: Medicalised maternity systems do not address spirituality as an aspect of childbirth and its practices of care. Neglecting the spiritual nature of childbirth may negatively affect psychological, emotional and physical wellbeing.

BACKGROUND: While there is growing interest in the spiritual side of childbirth there is a paucity of literature on the topic, and hence a lack of understanding generally about how to attend to women's needs for emotional and spiritual support in childbirth.

AIM: To collaboratively and through consensus explore ways that spirituality could be honoured in 2st Century maternity care.

METHODS: An online co-operative inquiry. Starting with a scoping exercise (N=17) nine co-inquirers continued to Phase One using online discussion boards and seven co-inquirers continued to Phase Two and Three. Co-inquirers were involved in international group work and individual reflective and transformational processes throughout.

FINDINGS: Four reflective themes emerged: 'meaning and sense-making'; 'birth culture'; 'embodied relationships and intuition'; and 'space/place/time'. 'Spiritual midwifing' was an overarching theme. There were eight areas of individual transformation and actions concerning spirituality and birth:
1) disseminating inquiry findings; 2) motivating conversations and new ways of thinking; 3) remembering interconnectedness across time and spaces; 4) transforming relationships; 5) transforming practice; 6) generating reflexivity; 7) inspiring self and others to change, and 8) inspiring creativity.

CONCLUSION: Spiritual awareness around birth experience emerges through relationships and is affected by the spatial environment. Spiritual midwifing is a relational approach to birth care that recognises and honours the existential significance and meaningfulness of childbirth.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: 11 Medical and Health Sciences
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Accepted manuscript Women and Birth Feb 2020.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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