What is the Role of Feminism to Provide Choice within the Medicalisation of Childbirth?
Presented in National Student Paediatric Conference 2017, 29th April 2017, Brighton, UK
Olivia Shaw.
This project uses the lens of feminist theory to examine the medicalisation of childbirth. A review of the literature found that the historical patriarchy within obstetrics arguably led to the disempowerment and the restriction of women’s choices to androcentric interventions and technology. It contends this can be overcome by collectively considering differing feminist’s perspectives to broaden choices, by enabling women to be aware of alternative childbirth practice. This project also studied the criticism of feminist theory that argues women are viewed as one homogenous group and is centric to those of a higher socioeconomic class. To address this criticism the wider social determinants of health in relation to social class were reviewed. Studying class looked at the issue that class also influences choice and disempowerment, similarly to patriarchy. This is because there is an association of women from a lower socioeconomic class background having an external locus of control due to less knowledge surrounding childbirth, leading to confinement to medicalised practices. To overcome this, it was suggested contemporary feminism could be used to break down the elitism associated with previous feminist theory.

Cite this article as:
Shaw O. What is the Role of Feminism to Provide Choice within the Medicalisation of Childbirth?. Pediatr Oncall J. 2017;14. doi: 10.7199/ped.oncall.2017.S5
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