The Experience of Being a Traditional Midwife: Living and Working in Relationship With Women


  • Elaine Dietsch PhD, RM, RN,

  • Luc Mulimbalimba-Masururu MD, ND

Address correspondence to Elaine Dietsch, PhD, RM, RN, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health, Charles Sturt University, Locked Bag 588, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia, 2678. E-mail:


Introduction: The purpose of this project was to learn from traditional midwives about their experience of practicing in an area of rural Kenya.

Methods: This qualitative, service-based research project used a simple exploratory and descriptive design. Data were collected through in-depth interviews and fieldwork notes taken during and immediately after the interviews with 84 traditional midwives. Data were thematically analyzed and themes identified through paired-author consensus. Exemplars using the participants’ translated words were used for analysis and presentation purposes.

Results: In being humble, patient, and kind, the traditional midwives used their relationships with women to create an enabling, calm, and physiologically sound intrapartum environment.

Discussion: Traditional midwives provide a valuable service to women in this area of Kenya at a time when their role is being increasingly devalued by global health agencies. We recommend a redirection of global policy from one that esteems only professional caregivers to one that recognizes the potential value of traditional midwives and supports them through sustainable, evidence-based education and resourcing.