An Icelandic midwifery saga : coming to light : "with woman" and connective ways of knowing
The aim of this thesis was to explore storytelling of Icelandic midwives' working lives, in the period from the mid twentieth century to the present time. This ethnographic narrative study was designed with a broad perspective looking at birth stories of midwives as mine full of their knowledge to identify and uncover. Interviews were conducted with twenty midwives to collect birth-stories that represent the social and cultural world of childbirth and midwifery in Iceland, and theory was to arise inductively from the midwives' own telling. Furthermore, one focus group interview with six midwives was conducted and field notes were used to gather more stories. The narrative analysis was designed by means of identifying the plot of the midwives' birth stories, which was identified as being "with woman", leading the focus towards midwives' relationship with women and their inner ways of knowing. The findings suggest that Icelandic midwives have a common philosophy of care that is associated with a midwifery partnership model, incorporated in the ideological statements of the Icelandic midwifery education in Iceland. Yet, in a diverse culture of changing childbirth, the birth stories illustrated the complexity of maintaining balance being pressed to base their work on conflicting models of care, including the social narrative of medical dominance. The research adds information and a deeper understanding of inner knowing of midwives, intuition and spiritual awareness in practice. The "act of being with" or yfirseta "sitting over" at birth was identified as being crucial for preserving and developing this kind of midwifery knowledge integrated with other kinds of knowledge systems. The midwives' storyline demonstrated three different types; one developed by learning from practice experience and the second was of more spiritual nature, even transcendence. The third type referred to the connective knowing where the two types overlap based on a reciprocal relationship with the woman - their connective way of knowing, which needs to be explored further. It is imperative to develop further narrative methodologies in different cultural context, to identify the central concepts of the midwife-with-woman relationship. Furthermore, research is needed on how the relationship affects development of midwifery knowledge, including the intuitive and spiritual, which provides safety of chidbirth.