Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

An existential and spiritual discussion about childbirth: Contrasting spirituality at the beginning and end of life

Birth and death are both fundamental human experiences. The end of life has been a major topic in philosophical, psychological, and sociological debates. Meanwhile, the beginning of life seems to be ignored in discussions around existential meanings and spirituality. Recently a growing number of empirical studies are emerging that focus more on birth as lived experience, revealing existential and spiritual issues around childbirth. In this article, we bring together insights from different discipline perspectives, such as philosophy, spirituality studies, and midwifery, to open the dialogue for studying meaning making and spirituality at the start of life. In order to bring these insights into relief, end-of-life literature is used as a comparative perspective. This existential and spiritual analysis on start of life reveals the need to focus more on an embodied and relational spirituality in and around birth. In this age of fast paced technological and medical innovation, research from multiple perspectives needs to be done to explore existential and spiritual understandings at the start of life.