An analysis of the meaning of confidence in midwives undertaking intrapartum care

Student thesis: Unknown


Midwives are often the lead providers of maternity care for women. To provide the variety of care required by women, they need to be confident in their role and practice. To date, only limited evidence exists in relation to confidence as experienced by midwives. This thesis aims to explore the phenomena of confidence through the lived experience of midwives. In particular, this will encompass confidence in the context of the intrapartum care setting. The theoretical basis for the study was hermeneutic phenomenology, guided by the work of Heidegger and Gadamer. Midwives were recruited from three clinical settings to obtain a diversity of views and experiences. Rich data from diaries and in-depth interviews, from twelve participants, provided insight into the phenomena of confidence and the factors midwives encountered that affected their confidence. The phenomena of confidence consisted of a dynamic balance, between the cognitive and affective elements of knowledge, experience and emotion. This balance was fragile and easily lost, leading to a loss of confidence. Confidence was viewed as vital to midwifery practice by the participants of the study; however, maintaining their confidence was often likened to a battle. A number of cultural and contextual factors were identified as affecting confidence within the working environment, including trust, collegial relationships and organisational influences. Midwives also described various coping strategies they utilised to maintain their confidence in the workplace environment.This study provides unique insight into the phenomena of confidence for midwives working in intrapartum care, resulting in a number of recommendations. These highlight the importance of leadership, education and support for midwives in the clinical environment in enabling them to develop and maintain confidence in practice.
Date of Award1 Aug 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorTina Lavender (Supervisor) & Linda Mcgowan (Supervisor)


  • Labour
  • Intrapartum
  • Midwives
  • Confidence
  • Self-efficacy

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