Unsettling moods in rural midwifery practice
Background: Rural midwifery and maternity care is vulnerable due to geographical isolation, staffing recruitment and retention. Highlighting the concerns within rural midwifery is important for safe sustainable service delivery. Method: Hermeneutic phenomenological study undertaken in New Zealand (NZ). 13 participants were recruited in rural regions through snowball technique and interviewed. Transcribed interview data was interpretively analysed. Findings are discussed through the use of philosophical notions and related published literature. Findings: Unsettling mood of anxiety was revealed in two themes (a) '. Moments of rural practice' as panicky moments; an emergency moment; the unexpected moment and (b) '. Feelings of being judged' as fearing criticism; fear of the unexpected happening to 'me' fear of losing my reputation; fear of feeling blamed; fear of being identified. Conclusions: Although the reality of rural maternity can be more challenging due to geographic location than urban areas this need not be a reason to further isolate these communities through negative judgement and decontextualized policy. Fear of what was happening now and something possibly happening in the future were part of the midwives' reality. The joy and delight of working rurally can become overshadowed by a tide of unsettling and disempowering fears. Implications: Positive images of rural midwifery need dissemination. It is essential that rural midwives and their communities are heard at all levels if their vulnerability is to be lessened and sustainable safe rural communities strengthened.