Supporting Physiological Birth Choices in Midwifery Practice
The Role of Workplace Culture, Politics, and Ethics
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Highlighting the experiences of midwives who provide care to women opting outside of guidelines in the pursuit of physiological birth, Claire Feeley looks at the impact on midwives themselves, and explores how teams and organisations can support or discourage the promotion of women’s birth choices.
This book investigates the processes, experiences, and sociocultural-political influences upon midwives who support women’s alternative birthing choice and argues for a shift in perspective from notions of an individual’s professional responsibility to deliver woman-centred care, to a broader, collective responsibility. The book begins by exploring the normal birth debates to demonstrate how hegemonic birth discourse and maternity practices have detrimentally affected physiological birth rates, as well as the wellbeing of women who opt outside of maternity guidelines. It also provides real life examples of how midwives can facilitate a range of birthing decisions within mainstream midwifery services. The second part develops a new model to explore how a midwife’s socio-political context can significantly mediate or exacerbate the vulnerability, conflict and stigmatisation that they may experience as a result of promoting alternative birth choices. Part three further explores the implications of the model, looking at how team and organisational culture can be developed to better support women and midwives, making recommendations for a systems approach to improving maternity services.
Discussing the invisible nature of midwifery work, what it means to deliver woman-centred care, and the challenges and benefits of doing so, this is a thought-provoking read for all midwives and future midwives. It is also an important contribution to interprofessional concerns around workforce development, sustainability, moral distress and compassion in health and social care.
Table of Contents
1.Introduction. 2.Rhetoric vs. Reality: The power of hegemonic birth practices. 3.Counter discourses; Resistance in action. 4.Moral Compromise and distress: Midwives’ invisible wounds. 5.Psychologically safe work environments: Creating the conditions for fulfilment. 6.Stigmatised to normal practice: A new lens. 7.Shifting the lens: Towards a collective responsibility. 8.Appendices
Claire Feeley is a clinical midwife and researcher with over 13 years’ experience in maternal, perinatal and infant health. Formerly the Editor-in-Chief of The Practising Midwife, Dr Feeley is now a lecturer and researcher at King’s College London.