Fighting a losing battle: Midwives experiences of workplace stress
Women and Birth
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Aim: The aim of this study was to examine the nature of midwives’ work-related stress and the implications, if any, for midwives overall emotional well-being and career decisions.
Methods: A classic Glaserian grounded theory methodology was used, which included 21 in-depth individual face-to-face interviews with registered midwives.
Findings: The core category that emerged from the data labelled ‘Fighting a Losing Battle’ consisted of the causal, contextual and conditional factors that together form the core problem faced by the midwives. Participants depicted contemporary midwifery practice environments as ‘war like’ and described levels of work-related stress that, for many, were unbearable and led them to conclude that the job was not worth it.
Conclusion: This study reveals that as the number and extent of stressors increase, the negative implications and effects for midwives rise as the opportunities to ‘do’ midwifery in the way they value decrease, and that commitment to and engagement with the work diminishes. Although the midwives said that midwifery itself could be stressful, their responses clearly identify that it is not the actual job but other related, contextual and other environmental factors that make it so.