Honouring the Sacred in Childbirth: a Midwife's Stories of Women's Developing Sense of Self
Thirty years of midwifery practice has shown me the beauty of birthing. After spending time working with a homebirth midwife I had an awakening which affected me deeply, both personally and professionally. I looked on birth in a different light and started recognising new possibilities. I learned new skills and understandings working in a variety of settings during a time of major change for New Zealand midwifery.
This experience has led me to this study the aim of which was to explore the relationship between the woman and myself the midwife as I experienced it and understood it in practice. I use an auto/biographical method: reflecting on my own story and on both factual and fictionalised exemplars from my practice.
My research led me to the following conclusions. As women prepare for and reflect on their births they often tell stories about themselves based on a mix of recent events interspersed with their ideas and hopes. Telling stories helps women learn about aspects of themselves that reconstruct their identity, leading to a greater integration of their sense of self. Woman-centred midwifery care takes on new meaning when midwives practice midwifery by engaging with women’s narratives.
Each woman and her birthing reinforce the sacredness of childbirth. By combining an awareness of sacred possibilities with scientific understandings, midwives offer a bridge so that through childbirth experiences, women can enhance and reconstruct their inner lives. This study indicates that further research on the familiar but undeveloped aspects of ‘everydayness’ in midwifery practice is necessary. In particular, the emotional and spiritual aspects of midwifery deserve greater attention.