Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Lead maternity care midwives' perspectives on the effect of severe perineal trauma on their relationship with women

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posted on 2021-12-09, 02:19 authored by Samuel, Audrene

Although childbirth is a time of happiness and joy for couples, happiness can be flawed by pain and discomfort associated with perineal trauma sustained during childbirth. It is estimated that 85% of vaginal births are accompanied by trauma to the perineum. A higher risk of trauma is sustained at the first birth compared with subsequent vaginal births. In New Zealand, midwives work in partnership with the woman. The Lead Maternity Care (LMC) midwife has an ongoing relationship with the woman in her care that starts when the pregnant woman books with the midwife and ends at six weeks postpartum. The relationship between the woman and the LMC midwife involves trust, shared control, responsibility and a shared meaning through mutual understanding. Midwives fear they will be held responsible by women who sustain severe perineal trauma during their birth for the outcome. There is a lack of research into how New Zealand midwives’ relationships are affected when women in their care sustain severe perineal trauma. This research sought to explore the experiences of LMC midwives who have cared for women who sustained severe perineal trauma during childbirth. The objective of this study was to understand the effects of severe perineal trauma on the midwife/ woman relationship. The aim was to explore LMC midwives` perception of how they were affected when women in their care sustained severe genital tract trauma during birth. Qualitative descriptive methodology was used. Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with LMC midwives from three geographical regions in lower North Island of New Zealand. The participants were eight midwives who had personal experience of caring for a woman who sustained severe genital tract trauma during childbirth. The findings revealed three themes: building a relationship with women, participants’ perceptions of the effects of severe perineal trauma on women, and the impact of severe perineal trauma on the midwife. The findings demonstrate that LMC midwives build relationships with women during the antenatal period. This relationship ensures an excellent partnership, established on the foundation of trust and respect, developed with the women. Midwives are affected on a personal and professional level when woman sustains trauma during childbirth, and the midwife adopts ways of coping. In the aftermath of severe perineal trauma, the woman may suffer health problems. This can impact her relationship with her LMC midwife during the postnatal period.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Health Care

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Health Practice


Maude, Robyn