Susan Crowther and Jennifer Hall of AUT University and Bournemouth University respectively feel that “spirituality is quintessential to childbirth” (Susan Crowther, 2015). Spirituality is an inherent trait to childbirth, but with the increase in technology in healthcare there has been a decrease in spiritual integration. In fact, the authors express concern that spirituality in midwifery is becoming “mechanical,” or guided by policy. At the same time, childbirth is a spiritual experience in itself, and it is difficult to mandate the treatment of the experience. Crowther and Hall grapple with the two differing ideas of the incorporation of spirituality into midwifery: the robotic essence of it and the innateness of it.
Incorporating spirituality into midwifery is essentially caring for the spirit of an individual. According to Western religious belief, midwifery and spirituality go hand-in-hand. The humanization of care is inherently spiritual and focuses on the relationships built through midwifery. At the same time, the authors find that it poses a challenge to build solid relationships due to time constraints. The World Health Organization mandates that “optimal health and well-being are inclusive to the physical, social, psychological, emotional and spiritual dimensions of life,” so spirituality deserves to be recognized for along with the physical and psychological components of patient care.
Throughout the article, Crowther and Hall iterate that spiritual care has become robotic. Healthcare is moving away from holism and into a “tick-box culture.” In order to counter that, midwives can acknowledge women’s religious beliefs and be aware of their own personal spirituality in order to better facilitate spiritual care. Healthcare providers should be able to support a patient’s spirituality even if it is not the same realm of spirituality as they practice. Knowing how to make a woman feel comfortable to exercise her spiritual beliefs during childbirth leads to a better birth experience.
While the authors express that midwifery is linked to an identity for many midwives, they feel that with the attempt to control childbirth, there is the risk of losing the humanness and connection that comes with childbirth. Childbirth is a magical experience, and the implementation of spiritual care during it should not be a standardized approach. The integration of teaching midwives how to effectively care for the spirituality of their patients should be stressed more often in educational institutions.
Overall, the authors notice a growing distance in spiritual care during childbirth that is becoming rather mechanical in nature. At the same time, they acknowledge the humanistic aspect of midwifery that caters to the individual. They hope that childbirth will become less robotic and more woman centered, as it should be.
Susan Crowther, J. H. (2015). Spirituality and spiritual care in and around childbirth. Women and Birth, 28, 173-178.