Subversive acts and everyday midwifery: Feminism in content and context



      Midwives are often at the forefront of political campaigns for women's empowerment, overtly advocating for women's rights and reproductive justice. However, midwives can also be found engaging in inadvertent activism on a daily basis within routine care. When casting a feminist lens over both the content and context of midwifery practice in Australia, subversive acts and opportunities for feminist reform can be found.


      To interrogate the significance of feminism in midwifery practice, identifying feminist successes and further opportunities for implementation including: analysis of the Midwifery Standards for Practice; the primary tenets of woman-centred care; the content versus context of midwifery in Australia; and feminist opportunities for enhanced practice. This paper will discuss the importance of feminism in midwifery practice and its significance in informing optimal midwifery care.


      Incorporating women's voice and respecting women's bodies and agency in the delivery of care is a fundamental component of midwifery practice. However, while the content of midwifery practice is innately feminist in its emphasis on woman-centred care, it will be argued that the context of birthing in Australia is not. The resultant effect is the emergence of victim blaming in maternity care and the construction of an archetypal ‘good birthing woman’.

      Implications and recommendations

      Moving away from the myth of the ‘good birthing woman’ and the act of victim blaming, midwifery could instead direct its focus towards challenging the rigid systems and structures within which midwives implement care. By further embracing feminist principles midwives will ensure a truly woman-centred future.


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