Highlighting aspects of birth often taken for granted, ignored or left silenced, this book questions the art and meaning of childbirth. Addressing spirituality in and around the start of life from a variety of thought-provoking perspectives, it examines the apparent paradox of impersonal biomedical-technocratic systems operating alongside the meaningful experiences encountered by those involved. Themes covered include:

  • Notions of holism and spirituality, culture, religion and spirituality
  • Childbirth significance at societal level
  • Spiritual care in maternity care provision
  • Birth environment, mood, space and place
  • Spiritual experience of all those involved, including health professionals
  • Spiritual experience when birth is complex and challenging
  • When birth and death are juxtaposed.

Although there is considerable literature on spirituality at the end of life, this is the only book that draws together a global and multidisciplinary selection of academic researchers and practitioners to reflect on spirituality at the start of life. Each chapter explores the relevant theoretical background and makes links to practice, using case studies from research and practice. The chapters conclude by discussing: how spiritual care is, and should be, provided in this context; what practice approaches are beneficial; cross-cultural perspectives; and future directions for research. It is an important read for all those interested in childbirth, maternity care, social science perspectives on health and illness, and spirituality.

part I|51 pages

Setting the context

chapter 1|10 pages


part ii|133 pages

Spirituality and the childbirth year

part III|10 pages

Pulling the threads together

chapter 13|8 pages


‘There is something going on at birth!’