Étudiante-chercheure étoile March 2013

Marie-Noëlle Bélanger-Lévesque

PhD student in Contemporary religious studies
Université de Sherbooke

Award-winning publication: Le « vide spirituel paradoxal » en salle de naissance : hypothèse de travail et enjeux méthodologiques

Published in: Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses, 41(3), 439-454


"While there is extensive research on spirituality at the end of life, this article explores the notion of the paradoxical spiritual void in Québec delivery rooms. The spiritual aspect, which, for generations, was part of the arrival of a new life through rituals and prayers during and often immediately after birth, has become nearly taboo in highly specialized, sanitized and safe delivery room. Considerably improved perinatal care and the decrease in material and fetal mortality as well as the profound revolution in attitudes towards the religious and spiritual have transformed the birthing process. Our research determined that parents can still experience spirituality as new life begins."


Marie-Noëlle Bélanger-Lévesque's work is in an area that is seldom explored and involves complementary research fields that rarely collaborate in an original setting : the delivery room. The meeting of experts that led to the categorization of the types of spiritual experiences that could occur during the birthing process brought together parents, physicians, theologians, nurses, midwives and medical residents. The project will make it possible to better define parents' expectations at birth and begin to build awareness of the spiritual dimension in the delivery room.