Exploring the power of the written word: on hospital birth and the production of birth narratives

Elizabeth Pilar Challinor
2018 Etnográfica: Revista do Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia  
The events surrounding the expectations and experiences of a hospitalised childbirth in Northern Portugal are presented as an auto-ethnography, written in 2004, in the format of a diary and commented upon with hindsight by the author. The original motivation for writing the diary was to re-gain a degree of power over the birth process which, even before going into labour, the author felt she had already lost in comparison to her previous experiences of homebirth abroad. The diary elucidates how
more » ... iary elucidates how notions of childbirth and maternity care circulate in the social imaginary, moulding women's expectations. It also illustrates how maternity care in Northern Portugal in the decade 2000 was governed by the authoritative knowledge of biomedicine. Reflections in the diary on the potentially liberating role of auto-ethnography are re-examined in the article through a discussion of the research potential for promoting the writing of birth narratives.
doi:10.4000/etnografica.6077 fatcat:frctykcptja2vivghfqhgdoa34