Friendliness, functionality and freedom: Design characteristics that support midwifery practice in the hospital setting

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Midwifery, 2017, 50 pp. 133 - 138
Issue Date:
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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd Objective to identify and describe the design characteristics of hospital birth rooms that support midwives and their practice. Design this study used a qualitative exploratory descriptive methodology underpinned by the theoretical approach of critical realism. Data was collected through 21 in-depth, face-to-face photo-elicitation interviews and a thematic analysis guided by study objectives and the aims of exploratory research was undertaken. Setting the study was set at a recently renovated tertiary hospital in a large Australian city. Participants participants were 16 registered midwives working in a tertiary hospital; seven in delivery suite and nine in birth centre settings. Experience as a midwife ranged from three to 39 years and the sample included midwives in diverse roles such as educator, student support and unit manager. Findings three design characteristics were identified that supported midwifery practice. They were friendliness, functionality and freedom. Friendly rooms reduced stress and increased midwives' feelings of safety. Functional rooms enabled choice and provided options to better meet the needs of labouring women. And freedom allowed for flexible, spontaneous and responsive midwifery practice. Conclusion hospital birth rooms that possess the characteristics of friendliness, functionality and freedom offer enhanced support for midwives and may therefore increase effective care provision. Implications for practice new and existing birth rooms can be designed or adapted to better support the wellbeing and effectiveness of midwives and may thereby enhance the quality of midwifery care delivered in the hospital. Quality midwifery care is associated with positive outcomes and experiences for labouring women. Further research is required to investigate the benefit that may be transmitted to women by implementing design intended to support and enhance midwifery practice.
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