Spirituality and Childbirth

  • Colm OBoyle
  • Vivienne BradyEmail author


Birth is widely recognised as a spiritual experience. In this chapter, we explore spirituality in pregnancy, birth and early parenthood and the extent that spirituality is supported or enriched by midwifery care. While a precise definition of spirituality remains elusive, there is growing acceptance that spirituality concerns the need for personal connectedness, desire for meaning in life, transformation and transcendence. The ability to ascribe meaning is a human attribute, and in health care, the significance of meaning making in and around the end of life is now widely recognized. The significance of meaning making at the start of life, is not so extensively explored.One reason may be that childbirth, in the Western world at least, is largely hospitalised, where medical intervention, maternity structures, and technology can deter from a personal, and spiritual birth experience. Mothers can struggle to find ways to give meaning to birth events, to connect with others and to recognise the transformative and perhaps even transcendent nature of pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood. Spirituality is not necessarily mediated through religious belief, although for many it is. Many midwives identify the privilege of being with woman and witnessing human creation as particularly meaningful and worthy of metaphors, such as sacred or divine. Birth brings new life and is, or should be, a joyful and empowering experience. In the following pages, we consider some of the ways that science and medicine, faith and religion, and feminist discourse contribute to discussion about spirituality and spiritual care in childbirth.


Spirituality Midwifery Maternity care 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Trinity CollegeDublinIreland

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