Space, place and the midwife: Exploring the relationship between the birth environment, neurobiology and midwifery practice

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Women and Birth, 2013, 26 (4), pp. 277 - 281
Issue Date:
2013-12-01
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Background: Research indicates that midwives and their practice are influenced by space and place and that midwives practice differently in different places. It is possible that one mechanism through which space and place influence midwifery practice is via neurobiological responses such as the production and release of oxytocin, which can be triggered by experiences and perceptions of the physical environment. Aim: To articulate the significance of space and place to midwifery and explore the relationship between the birth environment, neurobiology and midwifery practice. Discussion: Quality midwifery care requires the facilitation of trusting social relationships and the provision of emotionally sensitive care to childbearing women. The neuropeptide oxytocin plays a critical role in human social and emotional behaviour by increasing trust, reducing stress and heightening empathy, reciprocity and generosity. Principle conclusion: Through its role as a trigger for oxytocin release, the birth environment may play a direct role in the provision of quality midwifery care. © 2013 Australian College of Midwives.
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