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Woman-Centered Maternity Nursing Education and Practice

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The purpose of this Heideggerian phenomenological study was to uncover the meanings of the clinical experiences of registered nurses working in maternity settings after they studied maternity nursing from a woman-centered, feminist perspective in a generic baccalaureate nursing program. Purposeful sampling was conducted to locate and recruit nurses who had graduated from this nursing program between the December 1996 and December 1998 semesters and were currently working in a maternal-newborn clinical setting. Each participant had taken the required woman-centered, maternity-nursing course during her/his undergraduate education. Data collection included an individual, open-ended interview that focused on the nurses' descriptions of their everyday practices as maternity nurses. Nineteen maternal-newborn nurses between the ages of 23 and 43 years who had been in practice from six months to three years were interviewed. The constitutive patterns identified from the interviews were: “Otherness,” “Being and Becoming Woman-Centered,” and “Tensions in Practicing Woman-Centered Care.” Findings revealed that the nurses had a raised awareness of oppressive maternity care practices and applied ideology of woman-centeredness as a framework for providing more humanistic care. Creating woman-centered maternity care meant negotiating tensions and barriers in medically focused maternity settings and looking for opportunities for advocacy and woman-empowerment. The barriers the nurses faced in implementing woman-centered care exposed limitations to childbearing choices and nursing practices that remain problematic in maternity care.
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Keywords: feminism; obstetrics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: GLORIA GIARRATANO is an associate professor in the Family Nursing Department of the School of Nursing at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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