Beliefs surrounding pain during childbirth has biblical foundations that contribute to labour pain being viewed as a natural phenomenon. Contemporary health care promotes evidence-based labour pain management but the faith of the midwife may influence her midwifery practice regarding labour pain management. Therefore this study sought to gain in-depth insight into the experiences and perceptions of midwives regarding labour pain and the religious beliefs and practices influencing their care of women in labour in Ghana.
The design of the study was an interpretive phenomenology using individual in-depth interviews. The study participants were 27 Ghanaian female midwives of various religious backgrounds. Interviews were conducted in English, audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Colaizzi’s qualitative analysis procedures were employed concurrently with data collection.
Three major themes were generated: religious beliefs about labour pain, religious practices in labour and religious artefacts used in labour. The midwives’ faith and their experiences during their midwifery practice were inter-connected. The midwives believed labour pain was natural and religious practices are important to prevent complications. Religious artefacts used in labour included anointing oil and water, necklaces, rubber bands, bracelets, stickers and beads.
It is important that midwives provide an enabling environment for women in labour to practice their faith and they should employ context-appropriate strategies to effectively manage labour pain that takes into account the religious beliefs and practices of women.