The hospital industrial complex oversees ninety-nine percent of all births in America. Despite its dom¬inance, the medical model of childbirth is deeply flawed and responsible for the United States’ poor maternal and infant mortality and morbidity statistics compared to the rest of the developed world. This presentation, based on my senior thesis in women’s studies, argues against the medical model of childbirth and advocates for the expansion of homebirth midwifery. Homebirth midwifery challenges the ideologies upon which the medical model of birth is based and offers holistic maternity care that is far more empowering, nurturing, and individualized. In order to understand the context of midwifery in contemporary American birth culture, the medical model will be detailed, followed by a brief history of how it came to be the dominant ideology of childbirth. After offering critiques of the medical model, the midwifery model of care and its benefits will be presented in contrast to the practices of the medical model of childbirth. Lastly, is a discussion of the construction of knowledge about birth and how each model conceptualizes authoritative knowledge. In comparing and contrasting the medical and mid¬wifery models of maternity care, the overwhelming benefits of homebirth midwifery are elucidated.
Brenna Glaeser, ’15
Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies
Sponsor: Tori Barnes-Brus