The relationship between the midwife and the woman is essential for a positive experience for woman during childbearing period, i.e. pregnancy, childbirth and the first postpartum phase. Thereby, the aim of this study was to delineate central concepts in the midwife–woman relationship, in normal as well as high-risk situations. A secondary analysis was performed on original texts from eight Swedish qualitative studies, all with a phenomenological or phenomenological–hermeneutic approach. Six pairs of concepts were elucidated; each one describing one aspect from the woman's perspective and one responsive aspect from the midwife. The pairs of concepts are: surrender–availability, trust–mediation of trust, participation–mutuality, loneliness–confirmation, differenceness–support uniqueness and creation of meaning–support meaningfulness. Disciplinary concepts about the midwife–woman relationship have evolved that are essential for care in both normal and high-risk contexts, and we suggest that they should be implemented as a guide for midwifery care.