Trauma and the Effects on the Midwife

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

When practicing as a lead maternity carer, the first author (IC) found that following a traumatic practice experience, there appeared to be very little emotional support for the midwife unless provided by colleagues or family. Midwives were expected to continue as if nothing had happened and they had not been affected in any way by the event.

AIM:

To explore the effects of a traumatic practice experience on the midwifery practitioner.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND METHOD:

A qualitative study using a narrative research method was implemented. Data were collected using an adapted biographical narrative interview method. An eclectic approach was used to analyze the data for content and form based on identity and ontology.

FINDINGS:

The study demonstrated that partnership and autonomous midwifery practice are key drivers that make New Zealand midwives more likely to be blamed for unfortunate outcomes, and their competence in practice challenged. The study identified that a breach of relational trust exacerbates or prolongs the initial physiological and/or psychological symptoms experienced by the participating midwives following a traumatic practice event. The perpetrators of this betrayal of trust were organizational and clinical managers, medical and midwifery colleagues, women, and their families.

CONCLUSION:

The participants' stories have drawn attention to the effects of counterproductive behaviors that occur in dysfunctional health organizations and the need for professional emotional support.

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