Objective: The purpose of this exploratory study was to develop new understandings of what it means to women in labor for a nurse to be present during childbirth.
Design: Hermeneutic inquiry was used to explore the phenomenon of nursing presence during childbirth. The purpose of questioning in hermeneutic phenomenology is to stimulate thoughtful reflection and deeper exploration of the subject's experiences.
Participants/Setting: Six women from an urban center in Canada volunteered to share their experiences of childbirth through conversations with the research team.
Data Analysis: Audio-taped, transcribed interviews were analyzed along with the reflections of the research team.
Results: Women attribute multiple meanings to the care provided by intrapartum nurses. However, what stood out in these women's accounts was that a nurse's presence was the way in which a nurse was “there” for them and was a very important part of their childbirth experience.
Conclusions: Women's experiences of a nurse's presence cannot be understood apart from the institutional structures and work processes that shape their experiences. Further research is needed to explicate how hospital procedures, administrative structures, and medical practices enable or constrain the presence of the intrapartum nurse.