Illuminating Bodily Presence in Midwifery Practice

Stine Maria Louring Nielsen, Mikkel Bille, Anne Berlin Barfoed

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The article highlights the introduction of new coloured illumination technology in healthcare environments. Through sensory ethnographic fieldwork, the article showcases the cohesion and clashes between human bodies, hospital spaces and new sensory technologies, exemplified by a case of delivery rooms in Denmark. By addressing how midwives experience and practice lighting during the process of labour, we show how lighting technologies act as atmospheric elements and affect notions of intimacy and ‘being present’ in midwifery practice. The analysis points out a nuanced midwifery sensory awareness of how light not only shapes atmospheres in the delivery room, but also how these atmospheres attune the practices and gestures of human bodies. Through Hermann Schmitz’s notion of ‘bodily gripping powers’, we thereby argue for a general attentiveness in healthcare design to how technologies and design affect bodily practices and employees’ understanding of their profession. While health science has long showed the effects of lighting on the human body, now increasingly employed in healthcare design practices, the article argues for a broader attention to the interstices of technology and practices of professionals and patients in organizing how spaces are felt and bodies attuned.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100720
JournalEmotion, Space and Society
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Healthcare Design
  • Lighting Technology
  • Colour
  • Atmosphere
  • Bodily Presence
  • Midwifery


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