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The Politics of Knowledge in the Delivery Room

Conducted by:

Ms. Gila Nikomarov Nahum / School of Nursing Science

"The miracle of birth: a midwife considers birth a normal phenomenon, and does not intervene unless there is a problem. The obstetrician sees birth as a problem and if he does not intervene it is a miracle"

This quote from the website "The Israeli midwifery organization", represents the ethos of a midwife's world view, as distinct from that of the obstetrics medicine. The quote implies that the midwife has a different knowledge from the obstetrician, by which she knows what is normal, and what is pathological.

In my research on the professional worldview of midwives in Israel, the issue of knowledge and the epistemological hierarchy in the context of birth and delivery, has emerged as pivotal, in outlining the Array of forces within which the midwives' professional worldviews are constructed and formulated.

The control and ownership of Knowledge, and Its authoritative power, are significant in determining the boundaries between midwives and obstetrics, between midwives and women in birth, and between midwives and non-medical birth attendants.

In this lecture I will discuss the ways, assimilation of the canonic (medical) knowledge to the concept of "professionalism", and the way other knowledge is constructed, serves as an invisible tool of oppression on the midwives, but On the other hand, enable them to navigate between the different forces in the delivery room, and to mediate the gap between the ethos of autonomous midwifery, and the oppressive medical reality of their work

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