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Unsettling moods in rural midwifery practice.

Crowther, Susan; Smythe, Liz; Spence, Deb


Susan Crowther

Liz Smythe

Deb Spence


Background: Rural midwifery and maternity care is vulnerable due to geographical isolation, staffing recruitment and retention. Highlighting the concerns within rural midwifery is important for safe sustainable service delivery. Method: Hermeneutic phenomenological study undertaken in New Zealand (NZ). 13 participants were recruited in rural regions through snowball technique and interviewed. Transcribed interview data was interpretively analysed. Findings are discussed through the use of philosophical notions and related published literature. Findings: Unsettling mood of anxiety was revealed in two themes (a) 'Moments of rural practice' as panicky moments; an emergency moment; the unexpected moment and (b) 'Feelings of being judged' as fearing criticism; fear of the unexpected happening to 'me' fear of losing my reputation; fear of feeling blamed; fear of being identified. Conclusions: Although the reality of rural maternity can be more challenging due to geographic location than urban areas this need not be a reason to further isolate these communities through negative judgement and decontextualized policy. Fear of what was happening now and something possibly happening in the future were part of the midwives' reality. The joy and delight of working rurally can become overshadowed by a tide of unsettling and disempowering fears. Implications: Positive images of rural midwifery need dissemination. It is essential that rural midwives and their communities are heard at all levels if their vulnerability is to be lessened and sustainable safe rural communities strengthened.


CROWTHER, S., SMYTHE, L. and SPENCE, D. 2018. Unsettling moods in rural midwifery practice. Women and birth [online], 31(1), pages e59-e66. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 20, 2017
Online Publication Date Jul 18, 2017
Publication Date Feb 28, 2018
Deposit Date Jul 21, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jul 21, 2017
Journal Women and Birth
Print ISSN 1871-5192
Electronic ISSN 1878-1799
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Issue 1
Pages e59-e66
Keywords Midwifery; Rural; Mood; Sustainability; Phenomenology
Public URL


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