Reducing midwife burnout at organisational level — Midwives need time, space and a positive work-place culture

Published:February 15, 2022DOI:



      Maternity care organisations have a responsibility to ensure the health and welfare of their staff. Rates of burnout are high in midwifery compared to other professionals. Therefore, exploring how it can be reduced is imperative.


      To explore with midwives the contributors to burnout and how best to reduce burnout in a maternity hospital in Ireland.


      A Participatory Action Research study involving Co-operative Inquiry meetings (n = 5) with practising midwives (n = 21) between October 2018 and March 2019, in a large, urban teaching maternity hospital in Ireland. The transcribed data were analysed using Thematic Network Analysis.


      Several recommendations were made for maternity organisations, to reduce or prevent burnout. These include improving workplace culture, increasing support and acknowledgement, offering time and space for debriefing and reflection and regular rotation of staff. Consistent staff shortages are, however, a barrier to adhering to these recommendations.


      This study is the first of its kind to offer an in-depth exploration with midwives into the main contributors of burnout and what can be done at an organisational level to reduce burnout among midwives. The findings of this study highlighted the importance of working relationships. Additionally, owing to the nature of midwifery practice, time and space need to be created for midwives to debrief and reflect. However, there is an urgent need for healthcare systems to combat staffing shortages in order for these strategies to be successful.


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