Event Title

Strengthening Networks of Expertise: Midwives, Obstetricians, and Complementarity in Danish Obstetrics

Location

King Building 241

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2018 12:00 PM

End Date

4-27-2018 1:20 PM

Abstract

My research focuses on the relationship between midwives and obstetricians in Denmark, a country with very strong fetal and maternal health outcomes. In Denmark, unlike in the United States, midwives provide all care during normal pregnancy, labor and delivery. Obstetricians are only involved in the case of complication or heightened risk. In order to understand the dynamics that exist within this professional relationship, I performed semi-structured in-depth interviews with 11 midwives, 10 obstetricians, and 4 recent mothers, and conducted 80 hours of observation on Danish labor and delivery wards. I found that the relationship between Danish midwives and obstetricians is characterized by complementarity and collaboration rather than competition: instead of understanding one another as opposing forces, Danish midwives and obstetricians see each other as mutually necessary components to the achievement of a shared goal. Using Eyal’s concept of networks of expertise, I argue that this complementary relationship makes it possible to draw upon a wide array of resources for dealing with the challenge that is birth – both those of midwives and those of obstetricians – and that ultimately, this relationship is central to the high quality of care that the Danish obstetric system provides. While this relationship is firmly grounded in the particularities of the Danish social, political, and historical context, it still offers insight into how it may be possible to improve obstetric systems in other contexts by focusing upon the relationship between midwives and obstetricians.

Keywords:

birth, midwifery, obstetrics, healthcare, Denmark

Notes

Session II, Panel 4 - Health | Economies
Moderator: Jan Cooper, John C. Reid Associate Professor of Rhetoric & Composition and English

Major

Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

Advisor(s)

Ellen Wurtzel, Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

Project Mentor(s)

Ellen Wurtzel, Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

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Apr 27th, 12:00 PM Apr 27th, 1:20 PM

Strengthening Networks of Expertise: Midwives, Obstetricians, and Complementarity in Danish Obstetrics

King Building 241

My research focuses on the relationship between midwives and obstetricians in Denmark, a country with very strong fetal and maternal health outcomes. In Denmark, unlike in the United States, midwives provide all care during normal pregnancy, labor and delivery. Obstetricians are only involved in the case of complication or heightened risk. In order to understand the dynamics that exist within this professional relationship, I performed semi-structured in-depth interviews with 11 midwives, 10 obstetricians, and 4 recent mothers, and conducted 80 hours of observation on Danish labor and delivery wards. I found that the relationship between Danish midwives and obstetricians is characterized by complementarity and collaboration rather than competition: instead of understanding one another as opposing forces, Danish midwives and obstetricians see each other as mutually necessary components to the achievement of a shared goal. Using Eyal’s concept of networks of expertise, I argue that this complementary relationship makes it possible to draw upon a wide array of resources for dealing with the challenge that is birth – both those of midwives and those of obstetricians – and that ultimately, this relationship is central to the high quality of care that the Danish obstetric system provides. While this relationship is firmly grounded in the particularities of the Danish social, political, and historical context, it still offers insight into how it may be possible to improve obstetric systems in other contexts by focusing upon the relationship between midwives and obstetricians.