Valuing Moments of Connection: The experiences of hospital midwives in maternity units in Aotearoa/New Zealand
This research explored the experiences of employed midwives in maternity facilities in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In Aotearoa/New Zealand, midwives mainly work in the community as a case loading midwife or are employed within an institution.
Aotearoa/New Zealand midwifery research has mainly focused on the unique community case loading model, with a lack of research focussing on employed midwifery, especially the strengths of employed midwifery. Due to the shortage and declining workforce of midwives nationally and internationally, there is abundant research exploring the reasons midwives give for leaving practice. Research as to why midwives stay in practice in Aotearoa/New Zealand is not as evident.
This study used a qualitative descriptive methodology with an appreciative inquiry lens. Appreciative inquiry (AI) uses a positive framework to interview participants, giving an affirmative lens to the results. This allows the researcher to discover what works well in a system rather than the traditional method of identifying problems. Midwives from different locations in Aotearoa/New Zealand were interviewed face to face or by zoom. The principles of AI were used to develop semi-structured interview questions, which were transcribed and analysed by thematic analysis.
Four main findings were identified: Midwife heart and soul, advancing practice roles, work-life balance, and tension in the institution.
Employed midwives value the relationships they form with wāhine/women and their whānau/families and being able to provide the care they consider is a high standard. They are also sustained by achieving work-life balance and being able to advance their practice role. However, tension in the institution leads to frustration and limits midwives’ autonomy and growth.
There are implications from this research for midwives, maternity facilities, and the wider profession.