Friday, April 24, 2009

Language of Birth

I have a long term interest in how the language we use to talk about birth impacts our actual experiences of giving birth, as well as in the differences in the language used by the medical model and the midwifery model. For quite some time, I've wanted to share a section from the Our Bodies Ourselves: Pregnancy & Birth book on this subject:

The language used to describe pregnancy and childbirth reflects assumptions about women that set the stage for different styles of maternity care. Woman-centered terminology portrays women as active, healthy, and powerful, and labor as 'natural' and 'normal,' In this view, associated traditionally with the midwifery model, providers 'attend' women, 'assist' at births, and 'catch' babies. In contrast, some medical language depicts women as passive subjects, putting doctors in the role of 'managing labor' and 'delivering babies.' Medical terms such as 'failure to progress,' 'inadequate pelvis,' and 'incompetent cervix' imply that something is wrong with a woman's body. This influences how we see ourselves, how providers see us, and how the media portray birth.

On a related note, I've had the book Bearing Meaning: The Language of Birthon my Amazon wishlist for quite some time. I have a birthday coming up, so perhaps I'll finally get to read it! :)

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