Phenomenology as a political position within maternity care

Thomson, Gillian orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-3392-8182 and Crowther, Susan (2019) Phenomenology as a political position within maternity care. Nursing Philosophy, 20 (4). e12275. ISSN 1466-7681

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In this article the authors use the context of childbirth to consider the power that is endemic in certain forms of evidence within maternity care research. First, there is consideration of how the current evidence hierarchy and experimental-based studies are the gold standard to determine and direct women’s maternity experiences, although this can be at the detriment of care and irrespective of women’s needs. This is followed by a critique of how the predominant means to assess women’s experiences via satisfaction surveys is of limited utility, offering impartial and restricted insights to assess the quality of care provision. A counter position of hermeneutic phenomenology as research method is then described. This approach offers an alternative perspective by penetrating the taken-for-granted ordinariness of an event (such as childbirth) to elicit rich emic meanings. While all approaches to understanding maternity care have a place, depending on the question(s) being asked, the contribution of phenomenology is how it can uncover a depth of contextual understanding into what matters to women and to inform and transform care delivery.

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