Mothers and Midwives book cover

Mothers and Midwives

The Ethical Journey

This U.K. book is written by Faye Thompson, who has thirty years experience as a midwife and educator. She studied philosophy and the humanities as an undergraduate in Australia, and now lectures on health care ethics. As a feminist, she seeks to reunite morality and personal interest so that the woman is not subordinated in women's health and childbirth practices.

From this experience, she offers a framework of ethics specific to midwifery and derived from midwifery practice that takes ethical discourse beyond current literature, proposing strategies for ethical practice based on findings arising out of the profession itself.

Paperback, 196 Pages

Published: November 2003

Imprint: Books For Midwives

ISBN: 978-0-7506-8776-8


  • Foreword
    Glossary of terms and context of analysis
    Glossary of terms
    Context of the analysis

    CHAPTER 1: The need for a midwifery ethic of practice

    The metaphor
    Looking for the pool of ethics: a personal journey
    Ways of seeing: ways of acting

    The social construction of our world
    The nature of 'practice'

    CHAPTER 2: On the sealed highway - mainstream ethics, medicalisation and midwifery

    The nature of midwifery practice
    The influence of moral philosophy, and nursing ethics

    Moral philosophy and mainstream ethical frameworks available to midwives
    Why midwives would be turning to mainstream ethical frameworks

    CHAPTER 3: The false trail - a critique of bioethics and the problem-solving approach for midwifery ethics

    Bioethics - its development and critics (the pool of ethics)

    Casuistry and context
    Quandary or dilemma-based ethics
    A critique of the normative, dilemmic/problem-solving approach of bioethics for midwifery
    When the situation is stripped of context
    When the subject is depersonalised
    The abstract nature of principles
    What is ethically 'good'?
    Prior ethical practice , character, virtues and relationships

    CHAPTER 4: Midwifery's detour through nursing ethics - a critique of professional codes and influences that shape the midwifery ethics discourse

    Traditions of a professional practice, institutionalisation, and application of a code
    a critique of ethical codes

    Perceived strengths of codes
    Perceived weaknesses of codes
    How ethical discourse in midwifery is shaped
    Educational curricula and their ethical orientation
    The workplace setting and institutional influence
    Text books, journals and conference presentations: their ethical orientation

    CHAPTER 5: Off the beaten track - feminist virtue ethics and midwifery

    Values and assumptions of feminist theory - epistemology and ontology
    A feminist approach to ethics in midwifery

    Virtue Ethics - context, character and relationship
    Narratives, identity and traditions
    The public and private
    Normal/Abnormal - The impact of linguistics
    Metaphors in childbirth reveal practice orientation

    CHAPTER 6: A conducted tour or independent travel? examining underlying assumptions and values

    Owners of the original knowledge

    Profiles of those women telling their experiences
    The informant-researcher relationship
    Constructing consensual meanings
    Mothers' and midwives' shared values
    Power in relationships
    Power 'over' - exploitative, manipulative
    Power 'for' - nutritive
    Power 'with' - integrative

    CHAPTER 7: Facing obstacles along the way - mothers' and midwives' narratives of unethical childbirth practices

    Institutional dominance

    Lack of self-determination
    Fear, Safety, Mortality-Morbidity (negativity of attitude)
    Unsupportive of the woman
    Procedure-oriented approach; 'system workers'
    Values conflict
    Workplace/service provider versus personal/professional midwifery ethics
    Not valuing individuals

    CHAPTER 8: Going to a comfortable place - the ethical voice of mothers and midwives

    'Being with' woman

    Supporting the woman
    Knowing the woman
    Woman's comfort: security, 'safe' for the woman
    Ways of seeing
    Metaphors used by mothers and midwives
    Personal transformation

    CHAPTER 9: Checking our course - values and philosophical foundations of the midwifery profession

    The philosophy and theory behind midwifery practice

    Ways of knowing: midwifery's epistemology
    Ethical theories and principles 'incorporated'
    Ways of seeing and construction: orientation
    Practitioner definitions of midwifery practice
    Practitioner identified philosophy of midwifery practice: values and beliefs

    CHAPTER 10: Plotting our practice - values and philosophical foundations of the birthing environment

    The power of language

    Birth language
    A concept analysis of normal labour
    Practice decisions and conflict between work place and personal/professional ethics
    The midwifery relationship


    CHAPTER 11: The discourse of other travellers - literature on women's experiences

    The birth: women's experiences
    The midwife's approach: women's experiences


    CHAPTER 12: Mapping a new ethic for midwives - from 'practice estate' to the pool and back, now a return journey travelled in tandem

    The ethic of engagement - a midwifery ethic

    The nature of engagement in ethical responses and relationships
    The centrality of concepts which emerged from real life experience and literature, in an ethic of midwifery
    Implications for practice and recommendations


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