KeywordsReproduktionsmedicin och gynekologi
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AbstractBackground. Ethical issues arise in many obstetric situations and demand constant consideration by obstetricians. The aim of this study was to highlight the meaning of being in an ethically difficult situation as narrated by obstetricians. Methods. A descriptive design with a qualitative approach using a hermeneutic phenomenological method for analysis. Interviews were performed with 14 obstetricians working in a Swedish hospital setting. Results. The overriding theme was Sympathetic responsibility in the decisions of critical importance for the mother and her infant. Five related themes were to: (i) proceed with a moral reasoning that leads to the choice of a possible solution; (ii) balance one's own medical knowledge and moral insight with the needs and requests of the parents; (iii) be aware of one's medical and moral responsibility in relation to the decision made; (iv) experience the ability to take action and to make and carry out difficult and important decisions relating to the health of the mother and infant; and (v) reflect on a given situation in a manner leading to a rational acceptance of one's own conduct. Conclusions. Sympathetic responsibility is the structure of the meaning of the obstetricians' lived experience, which means that the obstetricians with the help of their medical knowledge and their desire to support the mother's autonomy do what is best for the mother and her infant. Implications include that an exchange of ethical thoughts and moral reasoning should lead to a higher degree of mutual understanding between colleagues and between the different professionals. Co-operation is important to achieve the best outcome for the mother and her infant.