• Communicating choice: an exploration of mothers' experiences of birth

      Hallam, J.L.; Howard, C.D.; Locke, Abigail; Thomas, M. (2016-01)
      Objective: This article gives an in-depth insight into the ways in which communication between midwives and the birthing woman shape the birth experience. Background: Birth is a significant life event for many women that can have profound, long-lasting effects on how they see themselves as women and mothers. Within the literature the importance of control over the birth experience and the support that the birthing woman receives from midwives is stressed. Methods: Six women who had recently given birth participated in one-to-one semi-structured interviews designed to explore the kinds of support they received before, during and after their birth. An inductive thematic analysis was employed in order to identify and explore key issues which ran throughout the interviews. Results: Within the interviews the importance of being an active mother, someone who made decisions in relation to her labour, was stressed. The analysis explores the ways in which communication style and compassionate care either enabled or prevented women from adopting the position of ‘active’ mother. Conclusion: It is argued that a personal connection with midwives and clear and open communication which places the birthing woman in a position of control are key to positive birth experiences.
    • Empowering women through the positive birth movement

      Hallam, J.; Howard, C.; Locke, Abigail; Thomas, M. (2019)
      Childbirth has been positioned as a life changing event that has profound long term psychological effects upon women. This paper adopts a community psychology approach to explore the role that the Positive Birth Movement (PBM may have in tackling negative birth experiences by supporting women before and after birth. Six women who all regularly attend UK based Positive Birth Movement meetings and had given birth to at least one child participated in one to one semi-structured interviews designed to explore the support they received before, during and after their birth, as well as their experiences with the positive birth movement. A Foucauldian inspired discourse analysis explores themes relating to the lack of support and information provided by the NHS and the function of the positive birth movement as a transformative community space which offers social support and information. Within these themes a focus on neoliberalism, choice and the woman’s position as an active consumer of health care is critically discussed. It is argued that the PBM has the potential to prepare women for positive birth experiences but more attention needs to be paid to the wider contexts that limit women’s ability to make ‘free’ choice.