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Exploring the value of ‘birth stories’ among midwifery students

Researchers

Ros Weston, Senior Midwifery Lecturer, Midwifery and Child Health

Background

This exploratory study sought to better understand the value and significance of the 'birth stories' heard and circulated among midwifery students during the course of their studies.

Aim of research

This project aimed to:

  • Better understand the purpose and benefits of these stories
  • Account for the specific aspects and social functions of this storytelling process, considering themes such as reflection, validity, and judgement
  • Make recommendations for further research in this area.
Method of research

This study used a narrative inquiry methodology. Focus groups were used to gather data through purposeful sampling of final year midwifery students. This data was then analysed using an integrative approach to narrative analysis. Six significant stories were identified and analysed.

Outcomes

The findings identified seven themes: validating experiences, stories as reflection, listening to other students' stories, retold stories, lecturers' humorous stories, not wanting to be judged when telling stories, and opportunities for story sharing.

The findings suggested that storytelling benefits students’ learning, and therefore has implications for midwifery educators and researchers. Despite limitations, this pilot study has the potential to contribute to midwifery theory, deepening understanding about the value that students place on birth storytelling and in particular the informal mechanisms that arise from telling and hearing birth stories.

Several papers appeared in the British Journal of Midwifery:

  • Weston, R (2011) 'Midwifery Students significant birth stories: telling the drama part 1' British Journal of Midwifery Vol 19, no. 12, pp 729-736.
  • Weston, R (2012) 'Telling stories, hearing stories; the value to midwifery students Part 2' British Journal of Midwifery Vol 20, no. 1 pp 41-49.