Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Mary Ann Hautman, PhD, RN, Chair; Patricia A. Roth, EdD, RN; Ann M. Mayo, DNSc, RN


childbirth, Hermeneutical Phenomenology, Midwives, nursing, poetry, women


This study explored the meaning of the phenomenon of the midwife's experience of being present with a woman during childbirth. The value and importance of being with a woman during childbirth, specific and unique to midwifery care, is reflected in midwifery philosophies and models of care. This study looked through the lens of midwives who have written poetry about births they have attended to learn more about the experience of being with a woman. Hermeneutical phenomenology was selected for the philosophical methodology and method because it looked at both the phenomenon and the use of language to describe the phenomenon. The researcher reflected upon and interpreted 18 selected poems as data and developed themes, which described the midwives, lived experiences of being with a woman. The data revealed that being with a woman was a key phenomenon that permeated all the themes developed from the interpretation of the poetry, spiritual connections, experienced guidance and partners in birth. Themes consisted of midwife actions or beliefs, or both about the phenomenon. The researcher also discovered three authoritative ways of knowing that guided the amount of presence the midwife provided to women during childbirth. They were self-knowledge from the belief system of the individual midwife, grounded knowledge through personal lived experience with childbirth, and informed knowledge from objective and scholarly sources. Themes from the poetry that were supported by midwifery models of care and informed knowledge such as safety and protection were also valued by the dominant medical paradigm as legitimate knowledge. Themes from the poetry that were supported through effective knowing such as handwork and succoring connections were important to recipients of midwifery care and considered legitimate knowledge in personal narratives and stories written by midwives. This study found that being with a woman during childbirth is an important aspect of midwifery care. Certain aspects of being with woman such as the midwife's connection to and use of spirituality and the use of touch require further inquiry. Midwives need to support midwifery knowledge as a legitimate form of knowing and being with woman as a legitimate form of caring in the provision of care to women.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons