Midwife as Counsellor: Midwives' Experiences Counselling Women Through Pregnancy, Birth and the Early Postpartum
Rachelle Fulford, BMW, MA, BSc and Jude Kornelsen, PhD
Introduction: Pregnancy and childbirth are transformative life experiences that can create or exacerbate significant emotional, physical, social, and relational challenges. Midwives help women to feel confident and knowledgeable, to cope with anxiety and fear, and to prepare for considerable shifts of identity, responsibility, and family life. Research shows that counselling has the potential to positively impact women’s birth experiences and outcomes; however, less is known about how midwives understand and experience their role in counselling women.
Methods: In the current study, nine practicing midwives in British Columbia, Canada, participated in a semi-structured interview. Interview transcripts were coded for themes.
Results: Five themes emerged from the qualitative analysis of the interview responses, including: counselling as “part of the job”, the importance of “meeting people where they are at”, feeling that “sometimes we’re out of our depths”, “learning by doing”, and the importance of “taking care of the midwife.”
Discussion: Findings from this study suggest that counselling is a prevalent part of midwifery care in British Columbia. Future studies should focus on exploring the impact of midwives’ accessibility to their clients when specialized counselling services are not available, collaborative ways for midwives to participate with mental health professionals in the broader community, and tailoring professional development for midwives in both health and mental health counselling.
Counselling, Midwife, Pregnancy, Postpartum, Prenatal care