Authors: Tina South
This paper discusses the applicability of hermeneutic phenomenology towards an understanding of the childbearing midwife experience. The impetus for the thesis was a clinical practice encounter when caring for a pregnant midwife. A pregnant midwife is in the unique position of being both receiver and giver of care. This led to the research question of what is the childbearing midwives’ experience. As research in this field has thus far been limited, phenomenology appeared to be the best fit methodology; recognised as useful when there is little known on a particular subject. Phenomenology recommends ‘going back to the things themselves’, thus the expert in a situation is not the researcher but someone who is undergoing the experience themselves. As both giver and receiver of care, the childbearing midwife is best placed to describe the complexity of their own lived experience. Once ethical approval was obtained, twelve informants, in the United Kingdom (UK) who were currently pregnant were recruited via advertisement, online fora and word of mouth to share their stories. Data collection involved digitally-recorded unstructured interviews on two separate occasions, pre and post birth. Analysis and interpretation was conducted using the work of van Manen (1997); a method identified as congruent to the aims of unveiling the lived experience in the health care sciences. Using this approach, subjectivity is central to the processed involved in data collection, analysis and theory. For van Manen judgement on whether a phenomenological piece of work is good, should centre on whether or not the end product text produces an ‘Aha’ moment for the readers, a connection with what is written. This is known as the ‘phenomenological nod’. These issues will be the foundation of this paper.
Keywords: component; hermeneutic; phenomenology; midwifery; childbearing; pregnancy; qualitative.