Journal of Professional Nursing

Control of Childbirth: A Socialist Feminist Perspective 

Diana Russell, RGON, Staff Nurse, Dunedin Hospital 

Reference:  Russell, D. (1990). Control of Childbirth: A Socialist Feminist Perspective. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 5(3), 12-17.


“Given support and patience 85% of women can give birth normally and naturally”.  So states Joan Donley (1986) introducing the first chapter of her book Save the Midwives.  And yet most New Zealand babies are born in hospitals, many of them with medical intervention in the form of epidural anaesthesia, episiotomies, monitors, caesarean sections and medication.  The phenomenal rise in medically-managed childbirth coincides with the rise of Western capitalism, and socialist feminists argue that the relationship is far from coincidental.  This paper examines the male domination of childbirth from a socialist feminist perspective with special reference to the New Zealand situation.  Strategies for challenging and changing the current situation are proposed.

Subscribe for full access to Nursing Praxis