Cooperation and conflict in childbirth care: representations and practices of nurses and obstetricians

In Brazil, where birthing generally occurs in hospitals and under the care of obstetricians, the incorporation of nurses is a strategy that has been used recently in an attempt to improve obstetric care. This study, conducted in two maternity hospitals in Rio de Janeiro, focuses on representations of obstetricians and nurses regarding teamwork and analyzes how the dimensions of power, cooperation/conflict, and technical autonomy are permeated by dualistic conceptions which influence the quality of health care for women during childbirth. On the one hand, the results show a consensus regarding the advantages of professional cooperation in the improvement of health care, assuming the existence of a clear definition of professional roles. At the same time, conflicts regarding therapeutic conduct during the birth process reflect the professionals' perceptions of autonomy and the influence of professional hierarchies, in which obstetric care is seen to depend on the "objective observation" of the women giving birth. The degree of conflict is differentiated according to the institutional context and related to dualistic conceptions such as objective/subjective, rational/emotional, and male/female.

Parturition; Midwifery; Obstetrics; Obstetrical Nursing


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