1st Edition

Spirituality and Childbirth Meaning and Care at the Start of Life

Edited By Susan Crowther, Jenny Hall Copyright 2018
    222 Pages
    by Routledge

    222 Pages
    by Routledge

    Highlighting aspects of birth often taken for granted, ignored or left silenced, this book questions the art and meaning of childbirth. Addressing spirituality in and around the start of life from a variety of thought-provoking perspectives, it examines the apparent paradox of impersonal biomedical-technocratic systems operating alongside the meaningful experiences encountered by those involved. Themes covered include:

    • Notions of holism and spirituality, culture, religion and spirituality
    • Childbirth significance at societal level
    • Spiritual care in maternity care provision
    • Birth environment, mood, space and place
    • Spiritual experience of all those involved, including health professionals
    • Spiritual experience when birth is complex and challenging
    • When birth and death are juxtaposed.

    Although there is considerable literature on spirituality at the end of life, this is the only book that draws together a global and multidisciplinary selection of academic researchers and practitioners to reflect on spirituality at the start of life. Each chapter explores the relevant theoretical background and makes links to practice, using case studies from research and practice. The chapters conclude by discussing: how spiritual care is, and should be, provided in this context; what practice approaches are beneficial; cross-cultural perspectives; and future directions for research. It is an important read for all those interested in childbirth, maternity care, social science perspectives on health and illness, and spirituality.

    List of figures and tables

    Notes on contributors



    Part I: Setting the context 

    Chapter 1: Introduction Susan Crowther and Jenny Hall

    Chapter 2: Childbirth as a sacred celebration Susan Crowther

    Chapter 3: Ritual and art in a philosophy of birth Anna Hennessey

    Part II: Spirituality and the childbirth year

    Chapter 4: Pregnancy and the unborn child Jenny Hall

    Chapter 5: Spiritual questions during childbearing Ingela Lundgren

    Chapter 6: Pregnancy loss and complexity Joan Gabrielle Lalor

    Chapter 7: Holding sacred space in labour and birth Céline Lemay and Carolyn Hastie

    Chapter 8: Couples’ spiritual experiences at birth Jenny Parratt

    Chapter 9: Spiritual obstetrics Alison Barratt

    Chapter 10: Growth and renewal through traumatic birth Gill Thomson

    Chapter 11: Spirituality when a newborn is unwell Sílvia Caldeira

    Chapter 12: Parenthood and spirituality José Miguel de Angulo and Luz Stella Losada

    Part III: Pulling the threads together

    Chapter 13: Conclusion: ‘there is something going on at birth!’ Jenny Hall and Susan Crowther



    Susan Crowther is Professor of Midwifery at Robert Gordon University, UK.

    Jenny Hall is Senior Lecturer in Midwifery at Bournemouth University, UK.

    "One highlight for me is Alison Barrett’s essay which takes apart the language of obstetrics to analyse the paradox of ‘spiritual obstetrics’. Another highlight is the practical and nuanced discussion by Lemay and Hastie on how midwives can hold the sacred space of childbirth. The book concludes that spirituality is a normal and special part of the childbirth experience and asks how can we ensure that this is respected and protected?"

    -Rea Daellenbach, Lecturer in Midwifery, Ara Institute of Canterbury