Challenging the biomedical model of childbirth
Challenging the biomedical model of childbirth

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Challenging the biomedical model of childbirth

2 Exploring the range of challenges

In this section, you will start by reading about challenges to the biomedical model of childbirth. You will then find out more about one organisation that is promoting a broader, more social, view of childbirth.

Activity 2

Allow about 30 minutes

Read the extract Challenges to the biomedical model of childbirth [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , and consider the following question:

  • Do you think biomedicine has a place alongside a broader social view of childbirth?


As you have read, some of the criticism has been around the dominance of biomedicine rather than rejecting it outright. Many would argue that this dominance has been at the expense of the consideration of wider determinants of health and, in this case, the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. The picture is complex - for example, a review of research undertaken in the 1970s and 1980s shows that:

Improved rates of material and perinatal mortality were associated with improvements in housing, nutrition, overall maternal health, reduction in numbers of pregnancies and an increase in the time between births rather than solely with the move from home to hospital births.

(Shaw and Kitzinger, 2005, p.2375)

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