Birthplace as the midwife's work place: How does place of birth impact on midwives?

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Women and Birth, 2016, 29 (5), pp. 407 - 415
Issue Date:
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© 2016 Australian College of Midwives Background In, many high and middle-income countries, childbearing women have a variety of birthplaces available to them including home, birth centres and traditional labour wards. There is good evidence indicating that birthplace impacts on outcomes for women but less is known about the impact on midwives. Aim To explore the way that birthplace impacts on midwives in Australia and the United Kingdom. Method A qualitative descriptive study was undertaken. Data were gathered through focus groups conducted with midwives in Australia and in the United Kingdom who worked in publicly-funded maternity services and who provided labour and birth care in at least two different settings. Findings Five themes surfaced relating to midwifery and place including: 1. practising with the same principles; 2. creating ambience: controlling the environment; 3. workplace culture: being watched 4. Workplace culture: “busy work” versus “being with” and 5. midwives’ response to place. Discussion While midwives demonstrate a capacity to be versatile in relation to the physicality of birthplaces, workplace culture presents a challenge to their capacity to “be with” women. Conclusion Given the excellent outcomes of midwifery led care, we should focus on how we can facilitate the work of midwives in all settings. This study suggests that the culture of the birthplace rather than the physicality is the highest priority.
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