Birth in the media

We live in ‘an electronic age’, where unprecedented media representations of birth converge in a global digital environment, which influences both women’s expectations and experiences of birth, and the cultural landscape in which midwives practice.

Western contemporary mass media tends to reinforce and normalise certain dominant ideological discourses around birth such as: the medical model of childbirth, the expectation of fear and pain, women’s diminished autonomy and agency, and furthermore shows few positive examples of the midwifery or social model of birth.

However, much new media, which allows users to create, interact and share content, for purposes of collaboration, activism and support, often critically analyses mainstream media representations of birth. In addition, media theory suggests women can take a ‘dominant, negotiated or oppositional stance’ to media texts.

If midwives gain the skills and experience to guide women in media use, by unpacking dominant messages and facilitating their navigation through to find evidence-based information and positive networks, they can better support women’s autonomy and agency in birth.

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