Birthing outside the guidelines: a qualitative study of student midwives' experiences

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Choice in childbirth is not a new concept, yet it has been suggested that few service-users have a genuine choice about birth. Existing research has explored midwives' experiences of caring for service users birthing outside guidelines, but nothing is known about student midwives' experiences. This study's aim was to explore student midwives' experiences of caring for women giving birth outside the guidelines.

A generic qualitative approach was used, and purposive sampling recruited five student midwives from a university in east England. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and analysed thematically.

The three themes were ‘contradictions’, focusing on the incongruity identified in the narratives, ‘the actions of clinicians’ illustrated by clinician behaviour witnessed by the participants and ‘punishment and judgement’, which outlines the treatment of service users who gave birth outside the guidelines.

Students can be exposed to inapt clinicians' behaviours, with the failure to protect and advocate for service users leaving them feeling anxious and potentially burnt out. Midwives should act as role models, so future midwives are aware this behaviour is not conducive to person-led care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-14
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Midwifery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2023


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