ABSTRACT

Pregnancy and childbirth are unique events in the lives of women. Midwives and health professionals need to have knowledge and understanding of the social and cultural contexts that influence women and their lives, and in which they give birth. Midwives and health professionals also need to understand the culture of maternity services in which they work and how it supports or impedes so-called woman-centred midwifery. Women’s subjective and collective life experiences will depend on such factors as age, ethnicity and social and economic background, and how these factors interrelate, contradict and intersect with each other. The study of women’s lives is complex but necessary for midwives and health professionals in order to be able to practise in a woman-centred manner. This chapter discusses the key feminist theories that have contributed to explanations of the experiences of being women.