Spirituality and Childbirth

Existential Meanings and Contemporary Practice Realities


  • Susan Crowther Robert Gordon University




Childbirth, spirituality, existential, experience, care, ecology


Spirituality at the end of life is often explored in the literature and in research yet despite the shared experience of childbirth within society there has been little spirituality focus on the start of life. However, interest in this area is slowly gathering momentum. This article shows how childbirth is overflowing with spiritual and existential meaningfulness for all. The impact of this major event in human life and our shared natality warrants closer examination. Using the framework “ecology of birth” the significance of “how” we do things is shown to matter as much as what we do, or not do, in and round childbirth. Drawing on research and practice this article asks us to collectively think about childbirth in ways that honour childbirth’s spiritual and existential meaningfulness and significance. Further multidisciplinary research to inform an art of practice in and around childbirth is suggested. By moving from the prevalent calculative mode of thinking in contemporary maternity care systems to a more contemplative mode of thinking we can be enabled to think afresh about the ways we “do things” and how we “are there” around childbirth without adopting polemic positions.

Author Biography

Susan Crowther, Robert Gordon University

Susan Crowther is Professor of Midwifery at AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand and visiting professor at RGU university, Aberdeen, UK.


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How to Cite

Crowther, S. (2020). Spirituality and Childbirth: Existential Meanings and Contemporary Practice Realities. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, 7(2), 115–130. https://doi.org/10.1558/hscc.37288