The emotional impact on mothers and midwives of conflict between workplace and personal/professional ethics

Thompson, Faye E. (2005) The emotional impact on mothers and midwives of conflict between workplace and personal/professional ethics. Australian Midwifery Journal, 18 (3). pp. 17-21.

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Research problem: The way we see or interpret our social world determines how we are and how we act (our ‘being with’) in that world. Midwifery is currently promoting a partnership model of practice (Guilliland & Pairman 1995). Workplace Codes and policies usually promote universal ethical principles and objective ethical decision-making both of which exclude so called subjective aspects such as emotions, context and relationship (Thompson 2004).

A qualitative study conducted in Australia, explored the implicit and explicit ethics surrounding childbirth, including the ethical nature of the mother-midwife relationship. One aspect of that research analysed the impact of any conflict between workplace and personal/professional ethics, as expressed by participating mothers and midwives. This paper discusses one of the emergent themes, ‘Emotions and Feelings’.

Participants: Eight women who had recently birthed a baby, and eight currently practicing midwives recruited from a variety of birthing and midwifery practice areas in Queensland, including public and private health care categories. Method Narrative inquiry was guided by feminist constructivism and feminist ethics. Through in-depth interviews, participants told of their personal experiences, and described how they felt when an encounter with either a midwife or doctor was ethically unsatisfactory for them. Participants were co-researchers in that during both the interview and analysis process, feedback was sought from them to validate the researcher's interpretation and jointly construct consensual meanings.

Findings: Conflict between workplace/service provider ethics and personal/professional ethics has an emotional impact according to the mothers and midwives interviewed for the present research.

Implication: A significant implication of the research is that ethical midwifery practice and decision-making ought to include not exclude, the emotions and feelings of consumers and practitioners. Emotions are our response to a social situation, and reflect our cognitive belief of concepts such as justice and integrity: when we know something is ‘wrong’ we are sad, or angry, or feel ‘bad’. Rarely do we search for which ethical principle has been breached. Ethical practice is based on human engagement in relationship, not merely abstract principles.

Item ID: 14096
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1871-5192
Keywords: childbirth; midwifery ethics; mothers; partnership; workplace conflict
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2010 03:21
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1110 Nursing > 111006 Midwifery @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920210 Nursing @ 100%
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