ABSTRACT

Pregnancy and childbirth are unique life events. They cannot be reduced to primarily biological events since the social and cultural contexts are central to the subjective and collective experiences of women. Personal factors, such as the woman’s age, ethnicity, social class, religion and culture, may influence the experiences of pregnancy and childbirth. This chapter explores the concepts of ‘race’, ethnicity and culture in respect to pregnancy and childbirth. The issues of access to maternity services, stereotyping and racism are explored within the context of midwifery service provision and practice. The challenge of caring for someone whose cultural beliefs and practices are not similar to one’s own raises questions about the cultural competence of healthcare professionals, particularly the midwife.