Aim. The aim of this paper was to explore the issues surrounding the spirit of the unborn child.
Background. Pregnancy and birth have been recognised to have a spiritual nature by women and health professionals caring for them. Midwives and nurses are expected to have a holistic approach to care. I suggest that for care to be truly holistic exploration is required of the spiritual nature of the unborn fetus.
Methods. Historical, philosophical and religious views of the spirit of the fetus, are explored as well as those of women. Investigation was made of views of the timing of ‘ensoulment’.
Results. The review demonstrates the value women place on the sacredness of pregnancy and birth, and that the spiritual nature of the unborn should be recognised.
Conclusion. This paper shows that the views and values women have of pregnancy and birth and the powerful, spiritual relationship they have with the unborn, indicates that further discussion and research needs to be carried out in this area.
Relevance to clinical practice. It is recommended that all who work with women who are pregnant should recognise the spiritual nature of the unborn when carrying out care.