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Veiled midwifery in the baby factory - A grounded theory study

Journal article
Authors Malin Hansson
Ingela Lundgren
Gunnel Hensing
I. M. Carlsson
Published in Women and Birth
Volume 32
Issue 1
Pages 80-86
ISSN 1871-5192
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Pages 80-86
Language en
Keywords Midwifery, Assembly line, Labour care, Interprofessional collaboration, Work situation, childbirth, work, collaboration, midwives, swedish, care, Nursing, Obstetrics & Gynecology
Subject categories Reproductive and perinatal care


Background: Midwives' professional role has been changing drastically over time, from handling births in home settings to being part of a team in labour wards in hospitals. This demands a greater effort of interprofessional collaboration in childbirth care. Aim: Explore midwives' work in a hospital-based labour ward from the perspectives of other professions, working in the same ward. Method: Classical grounded theory, using a constant comparative analysis, was applied to focus group interviews with obstetricians, assistant nurses and managers to explore their views of midwifery work during childbirth. Findings: The substantive theory of 'veiled midwifery' emerged as an explanation of the social process between the professions in the 'baby factory' context. The other professionals perceive midwifery through a veil that filters the reality and only permits fragmentary images of the midwives' work. The main concern for the other professions was that the midwives were 'marching to own drum'. The midwives were perceived as both in dissonance with the baby factory, and therefore hard to control, or, alternatively more compliant with the prevailing rhythm. This caused an unpredictability and led to feelings of frustration and exclusion. Which in turn resulted in attempts to cooperate and gain access to the midwifery world, by using three unveiling strategies: Streamlining, Scrutinising and Collaborating admittance. Conclusions: Findings provide a theoretical conceptualisation of a 'veiled midwifery ' that causes problems for the surrounding team. This generates a desire to streamline and control midwifery in order to increase interprofessional collaboration. (c) 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of Australian College of Midwives. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

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