Genuine Caring in Caring for the Genuine : Childbearing and high risk as experienced by women and midwives

Abstract: The experience of pregnancy and childbirth is a central life event with special implications for women at high risk. This thesis describes the meaning of pregnancy, childbirth and midwifery care in four qualitative interview studies based on the lifeworld theory. Women were interviewed during pregnancy and within one week after childbirth. Midwives were interviewed concerning midwifery care for women at high risk. In an intervention study, childbirth experience as reported through a post partum questionnaire was compared between women receiving standard care and women who had formulated a birth plan preceded by a questionnaire on their expectations and feelings about childbirth.The findings emphasise that childbearing women at high risk live in an extremely vulnerable situation. The vulnerability is obvious in the use of an individual birth plan, where negative feelings become more frequent in women at high risk than in those with normal pregnancy and childbirth. During pregnancy the women feel a moral commitment towards the child, including feelings of objectification and of exaggerated responsibility. During an obstetrically complicated childbirth the essential meaning is the women’s desire to be recognised and affirmed as individual persons. Like women with normal pregnancy and childbirth, they need an emotionally present midwife who sees, give trust and supports.Good midwifery care of childbearing women at high risk is synthesised as "genuine caring in caring for the genuine". The ethos of caring constitutes the basis of caring. Women’s transition during pregnancy and childbirth is described as a genuinely natural process. Midwives have a special responsibility to encourage and preserve this process within women at high risk. The caring relationship is the core and the most essential tool in the care. Distinctive features in the midwifery care are embodied knowledge, physical as well as emotional presence, sensitivity, a mutual dialogue including shared control between midwife and woman, and confirmation and support of the genuine in each woman. The midwifery care is a struggle and a balance between natural and medical perspectives.

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