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Using a novel approach to explore women's caesarean birth experience

02 May 2024
Volume 32 · Issue 5


How a woman experiences birth is influenced by how she is treated, and who has power and control in the birthing environment. Focus on ‘delivery’ of an infant disregards the transformative event for the woman, with poorer physical and psychological outcomes. New evidence is needed to understand how to prevent trauma and improve maternal wellbeing. This paper presents a feminist methodology to view the lived experience of caesarean birth. Feminist birthing theories integrated with a phenomenological perspective provide insight for those working in maternity care and create a novel framework for researchers considering the position of women in a medicalised healthcare system. Feminist phenomenology with a theoretical feminist overlay refreshes the methodological framework for a new understanding of how this perinatal event impacts women.

Caring for women through childbearing has traditionally been carried out by other women trained through both lay and professional apprenticeships (Davison, 2020; Reed, 2021). The medical paradigm of hospital-based, male-controlled, obstetric care has increasingly dominated from the 19th century, moving away from female, midwifery-led, home-based care (Reed, 2021). The health and survival rates of women and babies have improved with medical advances and training; however, it has increasingly removed the woman as the person of greatest value in the birthing space. This is now associated with increasing levels of physical and psychological birthing trauma. In high-income countries, maternal morbidity and mortality is increasing, despite the plethora of scientific advances (Hoyert, 2023). Gender equality, political empowerment of women and maternal birthing outcomes are closely linked with midwifery-led, woman-centred care, rather than the obstetric-led model, and are known to improve results for women and their babies (Bhalotra et al, 2023).

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