Jane Fry: Are there other ways of knowing? Independent Midwives’ experiences of utilising intuition during maternity care

Researcher: Jane Fry

We all may be familiar with the term ‘mother’s intuition’, but what about the existence of ‘midwives intuition?’ Jane Fry’s PhD research is exploring the ways in which midwives’ own intuitive knowledge informs their roles in the caring professions and how health scientists and heathcare providers can measure and learn from acknowledging these techniques as important tools in modern midwifery.

Out of the diversity of ways of knowing in maternity and health care has emerged a hegemonic emphasis on knowledge that is based on scientific principles. There is conversely scant research on the knowledge that derives from the art of midwifery such as intuition . Leading midwives, educationalists and researchers in related fields have however hailed its role in advancing midwifery practice and education.

Intuition does not lend itself to rationalisation and there appears a lack of understanding of intuition. A review of the literature demonstrates there is a dearth of research exploring the nature and use of intuition in midwifery practice. It is the intention of this study to identify a cohort of independent midwives’ experiences of intuition and explore how they incorporate this form of knowing as an authoritative form of knowledge during their midwifery practice.

My progress to date undertaking this doctoral study has accomplished completion of ethics approval, data          collection (7 independent midwives were interviewed) and personal transcription of the interviews. Analysis has now commenced and my transfer viva was successfully passed in June.

I remain committed to my doctoral journey, the most challenging aspect to date has been understanding            phenomenology as a philosophy and a research method and then remaining faithful to this methodology and my phenomenon during the description and data collection.

I remain eternally grateful to my research team in the School of Health and Social Care: Professor Les Todres, Dr. Janet Scammell and Dr. Sue Barker who have made this process so enjoyable and informative. Many lessons have been learned not at least undertaking interviews and the skill of returning the interviewees to the phenomenon without interrupting their narrative. The other major challenge has been gaining study leave.

I remain, however, passionate and determined to fulfil my planned timescale and enable the midwives’ experiences to be shared with health and social care professionals and users to ensure the experience of using intuition can be better comprehended and embraced as an authoritative form of knowledge.