Exploring Midwives’ Understanding of Spiritual Care and the Role of the Healthcare Chaplain within a Maternity Unit
Keywords:Chaplaincy, midwife, nursing, relationship, self, spiritual care, therapeutic presence
This study explores midwives’ understanding of spiritual care and the role of the healthcare chaplain within a maternity unit. The findings demonstrate that spiritual care is an integral part of midwifery care, rooted in personal experiences and clinical practice. Whilst recognizing that historically spiritual care and religious care were one and the same, there was a clear understanding that within the healthcare setting spiritual care is very separate from religiosity and the religious. The relationship between a midwife and the woman they care for is described as a key manifestation of spiritual care. There was a clear understanding of the chaplain’s role; staff valued their presence and support, and there was recognition that the chaplain had an important and unique role in relation to the provision of religious rituals and symbolic rites. The findings indicate a need to identify spiritual care training resources for staff; a need for the healthcare chaplain to have a “presence” in maternity units and a need for further research into the spiritual needs of women during childbirth.
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