1st Edition

Phenomenology of the Newborn Life from Womb to World

By Michael van Manen Copyright 2019
    142 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    142 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Many children spend their first days, weeks, and sometimes months in a neonatal intensive care unit as a consequence of prematurity, congenital anomalies, or birth complications. Their medical needs are thoughtfully appraised and attended to, yet some questions are rarely asked: What experiences do these newborns have? What experiences are we giving them? How can we and do we understand what their lives are like? What are the interventions and actions of medical care actually like for them?

    Michael van Manen explores the experiential life of newborn infants with particular consideration for those newborns who require medical care. Drawing on contemporary research findings from physiology, psychology, biology, and other disciplines, he offers phenomenological insights and raises thought-provoking questions as to how we ought to understand and care for such young children.

    In our contemporary world, it is often the experiences of inception, of first contact, with those who seem most distant, foreign, or even alien that we need to try to apprehend and understand. The inceptual lives of newborn infants challenges us to explore those experiences phenomenologically – to investigate the originary meanings of early life experiences. Phenomenology of the Newborn is an essential text for researchers seeking to employ phenomenology for the study of neonatal life and related concerns that may seem inaccessible to other more traditional qualitative and quantitative methods.



    1. Inceptual Questions

    2. Within the Womb World

    3. The First Cry of the Child

    4. The Meaning of Extremely Premature Infant Behavior

    5. The Look of Eye Contact

    6. Coming to Terms with Distress

    7. Suckling and the Being of the Newborn

    8. Bringing Phenomenology to Practice



    Michael van Manen, MD, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Canada. He has a clinical practice as a physician in neonatal-perinatal medicine with the Stollery Children’s Hospital.