Balancing Life and Death

Balancing Life and Death

Globally, midwives on maternity wards experience non-breathing newborns every day. A reduction in infant mortality can be achieved through immediate newborn assessment and resuscitation. 

Ljungblad and colleagues conducted a qualitative study to explore midwives’ experiences in newborn resuscitation. They interviewed 16 clinical midwives from various locations across Norway. Two interviews were conducted with each midwife to a) explore midwives’ experiences of performing newborn resuscitation and b) explore midwives’ experiences about what constitutes relevant content and structure in a newborn resuscitation program. 

Most participants described newborn resuscitation to be one of the most frightening situations a midwife can experience. 

Four themes emerged from the analysis: 

  • Feeling stress and battling the seconds 
  • Being vulnerable and in need of support and confirmation 
  • Being responsible for life and death – a balancing act 
  • Being prepared for newborn resuscitation 


The vulnerability and responsibility that midwives feel for mothers and newborns simultaneously affected midwives in several ways. They saw that midwives need support and confirmation to be prepared for newborn resuscitation. 

Furthermore, the authors found that a ‘lack of knowledge, skills and experience were barriers to midwives feeling prepared. Simulation training, including tailored programs and debriefing, is suggested to improve midwives’ skills and help them feel prepared for real-life resuscitations.’ 



Simulation training in a safe environment to practice and improve manual ventilation skills can improve confidence and competence in practice.

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