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Trusting women and birth despite the ‘risks’

02 January 2021
Volume 29 · Issue 1


Clare Davison discusses the differences between the medical model of childbirth and the midwifery or social model, and the importance of involving women in their care during pregnancy and labour.

There are different ideologies and models in maternity care, each with underlying assumptions and philosophies relating to women and the care provided to them during the childbirth continuum. The underlying philosophy within the medical model is the assumption that pregnancy and birth are pathological conditions that need to be closely monitored and medically managed to avoid catastrophe (Katz Rothman, 1991). In contrast, the ‘midwifery model’ or ‘social model’ of care and its associated philosophy share the common ideology that birth is a normal physiological process that most women can achieve without intervention (Katz Rothman, 1991). Recognising the differences between the different ideologies and their associated philosophies is essential to understanding the way in which maternity care is provided to women. It is also essential to understand that it is not as simple as midwives following the midwifery model and doctors following the medical model, as the health practitioner's philosophy and practice is closely connected to their own personal ideologies and world view. Therefore, many doctors may practice according to the midwifery model and many midwives may practice in accordance with the medical model.

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