Indexed on: 08 Aug '13Published on: 08 Aug '13Published in: Midwifery
To present the interpreted experiences of midwives who choose to work with pregnant women who also use illicit drugs.Twelve (n=12) Australian midwives were interviewed. Each interview was audio-taped, de-identified and transcribed. The interviews were analysed using a systematic, thematic analysis approach informed by Heideggarian hermeneutic phenomenology.Three themes identified from the data that encapsulate the experience were establishing partnerships, making a difference, and letting go and redefining practice. The interpretations of establishing partnerships which includes engagement, genuine regard and compassion, with a subtheme courting the system are presented in this paper. The midwives' experiences were both positive and negative, as they were rewarded and challenged by the needs of women who use illicit drugs and the systems in which they worked.The midwives in this study found that establishing partnerships was essential to their work. They appraised their experience of working with pregnant women who used illicit drugs and found strategies that attempted to meet the needs of the women, the system and themselves. The participants revealed that to support women and families who use illicit drugs in their community, partnerships must be based on deep respect and trust. Significant components engagement, genuine regard and compassion that are central to midwifery partnerships require revisiting to address the needs of this vulnerable population of women.