Midwifery work and the making of narrative

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This paper draws on a study of birth support conducted across three Melbourne maternity units. Midwife informants were asked to participate in semistructured interviews with two researchers and describe the activity and role of lay birth support people. In the course of the study, the activity of the midwives themselves became a research focus. The study found that one of the key tasks midwives described was assisting birthing women to develop and negotiate satisfactory birth narratives that could encompass the intense and sometimes difficult experience of birth. Midwife informants offered strategies for the development of such narratives as part of their professional and personal labour in the birth room.

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