Birth control: Power/knowledge in the politics of birth

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Choice and control for birthing women have recently come under the global spotlight as a human rights issue, and are likely to remain so while midwives are being targetted for providing home birth care. While focussing on these issues appears to further widen the dichotomy between medicine and midwifery, understanding how this divide is maintained is necessary if we are to move beyond it. This article, utilising Foucault's theory of genealogy, recapitulates how midwifery knowledge came to be subjugated by a dominant medical discourse, particularly through the process of hospitalising birth. The submission of the Australian Medical Association to a government enquiry into maternity services is then examined to illustrate how discourse is perpetuated, and how medicine still configures itself as the dominant birth discourse in Australia. The importance of focussing on midwifery specific knowledge, using the notion of embodiment, is put forward.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-268
Number of pages15
JournalHealth Sociology Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Autonomy
  • Birth
  • Discourse
  • Foucault
  • Maternity policy
  • Sociology


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