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Midwives providing woman-centred care during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia: A national qualitative study

Stulz, Virginia M.; Bradfield, Zoe; Cummins, Allison; Catling, Christine; Sweet, Linda; McInnes, Rhona; McLaughlin, Karen; Taylor, Jan; Hartz, Donna; Sheehan, Athena


Virginia M. Stulz

Zoe Bradfield

Allison Cummins

Christine Catling

Linda Sweet

Rhona McInnes

Karen McLaughlin

Jan Taylor

Donna Hartz

Athena Sheehan


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused isolation, fear, and impacted on maternal healthcare provision.

To explore midwives’ experiences about how COVID-19 impacted their ability to provide woman-centred care, and what lessons they have learnt as a result of the mandated government and hospital restrictions (such as social distancing) during the care of the woman and her family.

A qualitative interpretive descriptive study was conducted. Twenty-six midwives working in all models of care in all states and territories of Australia were recruited through social media, and selected using a maximum variation sampling approach. Data were collected through in-depth interviews between May to August, 2020. The interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and thematically analysed.

Two overarching themes were identified: ‘COVID-19 causing chaos’ and ‘keeping the woman at the centre of care’. The ‘COVID-19 causing chaos’ theme included three sub-themes: ‘quickly evolving situation’, ‘challenging to provide care’, and ‘affecting women and families’. The ‘Keeping the woman at the centre of care’ theme included three sub-themes: ‘trying to keep it normal’, ‘bending the rules and pushing the boundaries’, and ‘quality time for the woman, baby, and family unit’.

Findings of this study offer important evidence regarding the impact of the pandemic on the provision of woman-centred care which is key to midwifery philosophy. Recommendations are made for ways to preserve and further enhance woman-centred care during periods of uncertainty such as during a pandemic or other health crises.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 11, 2021
Online Publication Date Oct 14, 2021
Publication Date 2022-09
Deposit Date Jan 31, 2022
Journal Women and Birth
Print ISSN 1871-5192
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 5
Pages 475-483
Keywords Woman-centred care, COVID-19, Communication, Fear, Midwifery, Qualitative research
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