The purpose of this grounded theory study was to identify, describe and provide a conceptual explanation of the process of care offered by midwives and the effects of that care on women's experiences of childbirth in hospital. Ten couple participants and their attendant midwives provided the major source of data. The primary data collection methods used in this study were participant observation during each couple's experience of labour and birthing, antenatal, hospital and postnatal interviews with couples along with formal and informal interviews with midwives. Constant comparative analysis of data eventuated in the identification of a core category termed 'authenticating'. Authenticating, in the context of this study denotes a process that is engaged in by both midwives and birthing women in order to establish practice, and the experience of giving birth, as being individually genuine and valid. Authenticating is multifaceted and is seen to include the intertwined and simultaneously occurring phases of 'making sense', 'reframing', 'balancing' and 'mutually engaging'. The process of authenticating is proposed as a possible conceptual framework for midwifery practice. It identifies the unique contribution the midwife can make to a couple's experience of childbirth and serves in a conceptual way to unite the technical and interpersonal expertness of the midwife. The conceptual framework of authenticating legitimises 'being with' women in childbirth and facilitates a woman-centred approach to care with consequent implications for practice, education and research.