The characteristics of kind and compassionate care during childbirth according to midwives
Background: Although compassion is considered to be of prime importance in nursing and midwifery care, there is no clear understanding of what compassionate care in childbirth entails, and how midwives’ perceive compassionate care is largely unknown. This study accordingly seeks to explore and describe the characteristics, as perceived by midwives, of kind and compassionate care during childbirth. Methods: A qualitative descriptive inquiry was undertaken by means of a voluntary online survey, where participants were recruited via snowball sampling on the social networking site Facebook. The participants were midwives, and the unit of analysis was the received response. Participants gave written responses reporting on instances of kind and compassionate care during childbirth. The data was thematically analysed using Tesch’s eight steps to identify common themes. Results: Ninety-eight responses from participants were analysed and three themes and 11 subthemes emerged as dominant characteristics. Themes and sub-themes were as follows: making meaningful connections with patients (displaying good interpersonal skills, conduct based on dignity and respect, establishing trust); initiating individualised understanding of each patient (showing empathy, being patient, permitting maternal choice, promotion of advocacy, non-judgemental attitude) and action through care and support (providing emotional support, assistance through instrumental support, continuous informational support). Conclusion: In seeking to determine what characterises compassionate care, a pivotal consideration is relationship based on trust involving a distinctive understanding of the individual patient and her individual needs. Unique to this study was the finding that participants regarded advocacy as a characteristic of compassionate midwifery care. There was also an emphasis on not judging the labouring woman, as it hindered the connected relationship created. By acting on the information gathered through connections and shared understandings the midwife provides compassionate emotional, instrumental and informational care and support. Better understanding of how midwives perceive compassionate care could potentially improve the quality of care midwives offer during childbirth.
- Health Sciences