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Margaret Kyle MPH 2015


Lead Maternity Care (LMC) midwives currently provide the majority of primary maternity services in New Zealand and it has been argued that midwives are perfectly positioned to play a crucial role in improving outcomes for women accessing rural maternity services. However, there is an increasing awareness of the fragility in terms of retention and recruitment of midwives that some rural areas in New Zealand face.

There is very little research exploring the experiences of rural midwives in New Zealand and no research has explored the experiences of LMC rural midwives in Canterbury. This dissertation aimed to provide an understanding of the experience of rural LMC midwifery practice in Canterbury and valuable insight into recruitment and retention issues facing rural LMC midwives, as well as, it also aimed to identify areas for future research.

This research used qualitative methodology as it sought to explore the experiences of rural LMC midwives practising in the Canterbury region. In-depth interviews were conducted with six rural LMC midwives in four different rural localities. The interviews were audio taped, transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. Social and psychological concepts were used to analyse the data in more depth.

Two main themes emerged from an analysis of the data. The first theme was recognition of aspects of the midwives' experience that contributed to their work engagement. For the participants in this study experiencing normal birth, practising midwifery within a model based on continuity of care, having a supportive midwifery practice and working in a rural community all contributed to work engagement. The second theme noted the tensions the participants experienced in rural LMC practice including tensions at the primary/ secondary interface and issues arising from geographical distance and a focus on the current viability of the role of the rural LMC midwife.

Primary Supervisor: Dr Lee Thompson

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