Keeping childbearing safe: Midwives' influence on women's use of complementary and alternative medicine


Correspondence: Helen G. Hall, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Monash University, Peninsula Campus, McMahons Road, Frankston, Vic. 3199, Australia. Email:


The use of complementary and alternative medicine during pregnancy is common. However, many modalities have not been well researched and safety concerns have been raised. This article describes a grounded theory study which explored how midwives interact with women regarding use of these therapies. Participants were recruited from metropolitan hospitals in Victoria, Australia. Twenty-five midwives were interviewed and a subgroup was also observed. The findings revealed that when working with women interested in complementary and alternative medicine, midwives usually aimed to facilitate informed decisions whilst prioritising safety. However, participants assessed the risk associated with various therapies differently. Although many endorsed the use of various therapies, only a few were integrated into practice. In conclusion, midwives play an important role in mediating women's behaviour towards complementary and alternative medicine. Yet, currently many do not have the appropriate education to appreciate the associated risks, as well as the potential benefits.