Although compassion is considered to be of prime importance in nursing and midwifery, there is no clear understanding of what compassionate care in childbirth entails, and how midwives perceive compassionate care is largely unknown. This study accordingly seeks to describe the characteristics, of compassionate care during childbirth as perceived by midwives.
A qualitative descriptive inquiry was undertaken with a voluntary online survey, where participants were recruited via snowball sampling on the social networking site, Facebook. The participants were midwives, and the unit of analysis was the received responses. Participants reported on instances of compassionate care during childbirth. The data was thematically analysed using Tesch’s eight steps to identify common themes.
Ninety-eight responses were analysed and three themes with eight sub-themes emerged as dominant characteristics. Themes and sub-themes were as follows: making meaningful connections with women (displaying good interpersonal skills, conduct based on dignity and respect, establishing trust); initiating individualised understanding of each woman (showing empathy, permitting maternal choice) and action through care and support (providing emotional support, assistance through instrumental care, continuous informational support).
In seeking to determine what characterises compassionate care in childbirth, the findings reveal a process of making meaningful connections with women through recognising their needs, initiating individualised understanding of each woman’s needs and desiring to ease it, which is subsequently manifested in action through emotional, instrumental and informational care and support. A better understanding of how midwives perceive compassionate care could potentially improve the quality of care midwives offer during childbirth.